Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation

 

 

Notes for Contributors and

Tips for Authors

 

(N.B. Please submit manuscripts and queries to VR's new Editor Barbara Pezzini at barbarartpezzini@gmail.com)

 

TIPS FOR AUTHORS

VR invites authors to submit manuscripts to be considered for publication. This process involves sending in your text and images following the guidelines specified in the Taylor & Francis/Routledge "Notes for Contributors" page. But there are also hints and tips that could help you put together a better submission, one that could impress your editor and peer reviewers, and ultimately your readers.

EXAMINE THE JOURNAL

In considering where to publish, start with the obvious. Read the journal’s scope and aims which you’ll find with a lot of other useful information on the journal’s pages at the publisher’s site. See what’s been published and how an article typically looks in print and online. Check out the journal through your library’s subscription in both formats.

After reviewing the “Notes for Contributors” that specify how to submit a manuscript for consideration, be in touch with the editor if you have any questions. Contact authors who have published in the journal for an “insider’s” perspective. Their experience can give you valuable insights and pointers that you won’t find anywhere else.

HOW TO PREPARE MANUSCRIPT FILES

Keep in mind that your article, when published in VR, will appear both in print & online. Images and any other multimedia files must be able to remain accessible to readers “in perpetuity”; we cannot “renew” a rights agreement after 6 or 10 years, which some stock agencies sometimes require in their contracts. Contracts are negotiable, so it's appropriate to negotiate when conditions don't match expectations.

If the journal has a style guide, use it when you are preparing your text, image, and multimedia files; ask if it’s not offered to you. Put all personal information on the cover page only, and not in the header or footer of the text. Because your manuscript will be subjected to a standard peer-review process, remove any specific references to yourself from the text. Try your best to prepare an “anonymous” paper for this stage that will not reveal you as an author of a previously presented (or published) paper if someone does a Google search on the paper’s title or with a snippet from the text.

Our goal is to publish unpublished scholarship but there have been a couple of cases when we have accepted an article (with revision and updates, of course) that appeared elsewhere. In these rare instances, permission to republish was cleared with the rights owner(s) and the article included a citation to its earlier appearance. One of the articles, which has recently been listed in the “most accessed” section of our site, is one that earlier appeared in a small, regional journal in New Zealand. In republishing this article in VR, we have made it available to a much broader and obviously a grateful audience.

PEER REVIEW

Articles received for consideration are required to be reviewed by at least two outside readers; sometimes we are lucky and can get three readers. All unsolicited submissions are managed in a double-blind review process. The invitation to a reviewer includes the paper’s title and its abstract along with a suggested deadline for the review. Based on our experience, the abstract is a telling gauge of the submitter’s written skills, argument, and grasp of the subject. Acceptance or rejection of an article can sometimes be predicted by how easy or difficult it is to find willing reviewers who get a taste of paper through its abstract.

Special issues on focused topics are reviewed by formal proposal to the VR Editorial/Advisory Board. The proposal includes an introduction to the special issue, abstracts of each of the papers that will be included, sample illustrations or supplementary files, the authors’ brief bios, and full CVs for each author. Obviously this is not a double-blind process; the Board knows the name and experience of each participating author. The Board may also request additional information if necessary. The Board members’ review comments are summarized and returned to the proposers along with the editor’s yea or nay decision for publication.

The third possible scenario is an invitation from either the editors or the Board for a paper from an expert on a specialized topic. Prior to publication, this paper will be seen by several readers, typically other members of the Board.

A WORLDWIDE AUDIENCE

Accessibility and interdisciplinarity are keys to the success of today’s scholarship. Readers come from many countries, many different disciplines, and often without English as their first language. For VR, I insist on text that is accessible to all, that does not rely on an insider’s knowledge of the field, and avoids being Western-centric or gender biased. This is a challenge that often requires adding information: life and death dates, context information about a person’s or a place’s historical or regional significance, and most importantly the use of both a first and a last name when someone is first mentioned in the text. We cannot assume that everybody knows a specialized field intimately and we should avoid writing only for our inner circle. Accessibility must also accommodate those who have vision disabilities. Avoid abbreviations and jargon that might not be translated accurately by a read-out-loud text emulator.

PRINT VS. ONLINE

What’s written for a print-only journal will not always look the same and satisfy readers’ needs in its online version. For example, abstracts, keywords, images and their captions, and author bios are independent entities in VR’s HTML layout. Newer formats for mobile devices amplify some differences between in print and online. The information in one section does not automatically carry over to the other parts; so some repetition is required. Unfortunately, repetition may seem unnecessary in print; but it’s the same text that is typically streamed into HTML which then appears as separate pieces of text online in the various formats. Online access necessitates strong titles and informative abstracts that will be productive in word-string searches in browsers.

AND NOW, SOME PRACTICAL HINTS AND TIPS

As soon as your article is accepted for publication (and you have a target date for publication) start gathering your images. If images are vital to your paper, be sure to secure reproduction rights that will make them accessible in all formats without time limits. Consult with your editor before you sign contracts with image providers and especially if time limits are stipulated in the contract or if you feel uncomfortable with any of the itemized conditions; they will probably seem even more so to your editor.

Some journals have limits on the number of color images that can be printed in color; as of 2011, VR’s ability to include color in print has been substantially expanded. When you are referencing an image in your text, add a note indicating if color is essential in its reproduction, so that the editor has a better idea of what he or she is working with and to remind you that you need to secure color rights. If color limits in the journal are critical, some of your requests may not be met.

Work closely with your images. If you can, put them in your draft text and look at them while you are writing. If your image is something that appears in more than one version (multiple copies of a painting, several editions of prints or sculpture, multiple views of a building or room), be sure that you are submitting an image file that matches the version you have described and discussed in your text.

Captions should be considered reference points that reinforce statements made in your text. Be sure the two match! Use the same title in both and coordinate all other information, for example a museum name in Italian in your text but in English in the caption. Unify these! If you happen to be the creator of the image used in your text, the credit citation should include your full name not “courtesy of author.” When taken out of context, one quickly forgets who should get credit for the photo unless your full name is stated. Avoid becoming “unknown” or your image an “orphan work.”

When you are quoting texts, be especially careful to check (and recheck) the accuracy of your transcription. These days, it’s easy to find many texts (or text snippets) online. Do a screenshot of that text section and save it for later reference. If you have any questions, you’ll have the snippet handy to check again. Be careful with page numbers as they may vary from one edition of a book to another.

Since digital versions of many historical texts and even some recently published material can be found online (Google Books, the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, Project Gutenburg, and others) use them in your references and citations. By incorporating links to electronic publications in your electronic texts, you will be creating a rich and vibrant experience for your readers. You will be putting resources into the hands of some who do not have access to libraries.

Bibliographic citation requirements can vary widely from one journal to the next. Use the style guide specified for the journal (VR uses CMOS 16), and format citations accordingly. If you have questions, ask your editor before you start formatting.

If at all possible, use the latest version of MS Word for your text file rather than a Word-emulator program. Difficulties with formatting are typically caused by incompatible file formats, even when the software producer assures you that the two are identical; they aren’t!

Christine L. Sundt, Editor
Remarks presented in the session "How to Get Published and How to Get Read: (Arts) Journals in the Digital Age," chaired by Loren Diclaudio, Routledge Journals, at the 100th College Art Association annual conference, Los Angeles, California, Friday, February 24, 2012.

VR Vol 26 No 3 cover VR Vol 27 No 1 cover

 

CONTACTS
Christine L. Sundt, Editor (retired)
Visual Resources
P.O. Box 5316
Eugene, OR 97405 - USA
csundt@mindspring.com
Helen Ronan, Review Editor
Visual Resources
2 Duggan Road
Acton, MA 01720 - USA
hronan@comcast.net
Murtha Baca, News Editor
Visual Resources
Getty Research Institute
Los Angeles, CA 90049 - USA
mbaca@getty.edu

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