Week 6: Book Reviews

Hello All!

This week, I worked mostly editing the book review section of an upcoming FHQ edition.

Book reviews, as you all surely know, are much different than articles — in length, style, and content.

You would think that the shorter length of a book review would make it easier to edit, and to a certain degree it does, but overall it can be difficult to accept the varying approaches authors from varying fields take when writing their reviews.

In history, we are taught to review books thoroughly and with a focus on analysis. Often times, reviews coming from the history perspective begin with a very brief historiography, placing the reviewed book within the historiographical context. In addition, the history style of reviewing involves a bit of summary and critiquing, and focuses mainly on the argument of the book in review.

However, at FHQ, as is common with most journals, reviews are done by a wide range of reviewers from a wide range of fields. Historians, literary analyzers, journalists, and many others contribute reviews. As such, an editor has to be able to accept reviews that don’t necessarily address historiographical context or argument. It’s tempting to highlight a large section for deletion and replace it with something that fits better within the ‘history’ mold, but in the end its best to let the reviewers be themselves. Too much editing will result in a review written by the editor, but under the reviewers name. This serves to both undermine the reviewer and, ultimately, decrease the amount of reviews submitted to the journal — after all, would you review a book if you felt the journal was going to edit it to the point that it was no longer your take on the book?

Another issue concerning book reviews involves the evolution (or what some might call the de-evolution) of the academic press. According to those in the know — presses used to always ship books to reviewers, free of charge. This is, in fact, one the chief incentives for reviewers — write a review, get a free book. However, some presses either cannot afford, or simply do not to wish to send free books to reviewers. As a result, some in the field feel that book reviews may soon vanish from journals.

Time will tell, but until then, I’ll be helping to review them at FHQ.

Hope all is well with the loyal readers of this blog!

Until next time,

Garrett

Week 5: Wow, Week 5 Already??

My, how time flies when you’re having fun.

Okay, okay, I’ll admit — trying to spot the unnecessary commas in a 36-page article isn’t fun, per se, but the breadth of knowledge and experienced gained certainly makes it seem that way.

I’m getting a bit better at catching things–I think my ‘editor’s eye’ is getting closer to 20/20–and that’s giving me more of an opportunity to actually read the articles I’m editing. In my first few weeks, it was more of a skim, in regards to the actual content, and more focus was given to trying to spot the errors. But now that I know what to look for (one of the big ones in unnecessary hyphens like ‘in the twentieth-century’ or ‘the African-Americans’), I’m able to move a bit quicker, which gives me more time to really enjoy the articles for their contribution to Florida history. This week I read an article about black Union soldiers in Florida during the Civil War, which was truly fascinating (albeit laden with syntax mistakes). I also edited our book review section, and got to learn a bit about a few different histories — the Florida Highwaymen painters, black youth and high school football in a small Florida town, and (this one’s for Holly) Florida folk music!

The biggest FHQ task this week was taking one last look at our final PDF previews of the Spring 2015 issue, set to publish this month. These final PDFs, called blue-lines, are one of our last opportunities to see the finished product. If we catch something glaring, we can let the publisher know, but fixing mistakes at this point is costly, so we only do it if necessary — a great example, we saw some hyphen issues, but that’s too little and too expensive to fix, so it’ll have to stay in.

I felt good about myself when I made a big catch — on the spine of the journal, the season said “SRINGR 2015”. Sringr? How did that happen? Maybe the publisher thought we were working on a hybrid Summer-Spring issue. Either way, it was a good thing I saw it (though I’m sure the others would have, I just had first crack at it), because it would look pretty bad to send thousands of copies to people with “Florida Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, No. 3, SRINGR 2015” on it.

Turning Homework into Conferences

In other news, I found a conference on H-Net whose theme deals with ‘the future of the field of history’, and decided to submit my research project for this internship for that conference. I cannot stand the idea of working hard on a project and only showing it to a professor — if I put in the time, it better have some legs to get to a conference.

This particular conference, at Brown University in October, is titled: “The History of the Future,” and I think my paper has a decent chance of getting accepted. If not, I’ll try it somewhere else.

Basically, I explore the efforts of regional history journals to adapt to evolutions in media consumption and coinciding shifts in publication practices. I juxtapose recent trends in publication and digitization among larger-scale, national journals with a detailed case study of Florida Historical Quarterly to answer my research questions. I’ll go ahead and paste my full application at the end of this post in case you guys want to see it.

Big Brother

Also, some of you may know about my dad and his wife having a baby….well, on June 17, the little guy finally entered the world. His name is Garrison Lee Hillyer (sounds like a Confederate soldier, doesn’t it?), and he is pretty dang cute. Not on my level, of course, but he’s close:

image (13)

So okay, that’s it for now. I hope all the other interns are doing well! I look forward to continuing to read your blogs!

Here is my submission to the Brown conference — wish me luck! I don’t quite know how well done this submission is–I’m sure you guys can find some weaknesses–but it at least gives you an idea of what most conferences want (title, abstract, bio) in case you haven’t submitted to one yet :

Publish or Perish 2.0

Regional History Journals in the Age of Digitization

By GARRETT L. HILLYER

The phrase “publish or perish” is well known across academia, and for decades scholars have worked to publish their research, both for their own satisfaction and to satisfy the requirements of their employing institutions. For historians, publication often comes in the form of articles printed in smaller-scale, regional history journals. Current shifts in media consumption inherently stimulate evolutions in publication practices, and where larger-scale, national journals can afford—quite literally—to adapt to these shifts quickly, regional journals can struggle. Digitization is widely held to be “the wave of the future,” to borrow an ironically tired phrase, and as publishers and editors work to navigate the changing tides, a few important questions must be asked in regards to the smaller-scale operations on which many hinge their hopes of publishing research: How do changes in media consumption effect smaller-scale journals? How might differences between national and regional journals, specifically in regards to funding, available resources, and readership, limit the capabilities, and in some cases the incentive, for smaller-scale journals to digitize? Perhaps most importantly, can smaller-scale journals survive seismic shifts in publication practices and, if so, how? The following paper aims to answer these questions by juxtaposing an overview of recent trends in historic journal publication and digitization with a detailed case study of the Florida Historical Quarterly and its efforts to adapt for the future. If successful, this paper will prove relevant, informative, and vitally important for seasoned scholars and graduate students alike, regardless of their area of specialty.

Garrett Hillyer is a Master’s candidate studying history at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Garrett’s areas of interest include sport, urban, political, and cultural history. Garrett’s interest in journal publication and digitization grew during his time as a Copy Editor for the Florida Historical Quarterly, and he ultimately hopes to develop his own history journal, merging traditional academic standards with interactive digital media to satisfy demands new and old. Garrett is currently working towards completing his Master’s thesis, which explores the socioeconomic, political, and cultural impact of major league sports franchises operating in “small markets.” Ultimately, Garrett hopes to pursue a PhD in history and explore transnational cultural imperialism through sport, while continuing to involve himself with academic journals and the digital frontier.

Week 4: Words of Wisdom

I’m knee-deep into editing now. The manuscripts and page drafts roll in, and the edits have to be made. When I say manuscripts, I mean those papers submitted and reviewed, but not yet ready for publication. When I say page drafts, those are articles submitted, reviewed, and ready for publication — they actually come to us as a PDF photo ready for the printer. The page draft stage is one of the final stages before we send it off for publication, so edits at this point can be costly — literally. As such, changes are only made if they are major (i.e. the wrong season on the spine — Summer 2015 instead of Spring 2015–, the wrong page number based off of table of contents — TOC says article on page 517, it’s really on 516–, footnotes that are grossly formatted — this time around, one was totally empty!, and major typos — we had a ‘hese’ that was supposed to be ‘These’).

So, I basically serve as an extra set of eyes, trying to catch what I can so that we put out an error-free journal (though that’s nearly impossible to do). It’s amazing the little things that you’ll miss, and the more eyes on the page, the better.

Certainly, Dr. Murphree and Dr. Lester are much better than me at catching things — we compared notes and I caught about 1/10 of the errors they did — but I’m sure I’ll improve with time and practice, and they’ve been great about bringing me along at a steady pace.

The title of this week’s post has to do with, what I believe, is the best part of this job.

While discussing my edits with Dr. Murphree, he and I fell into a discussion about the professionalization of history and academia as a whole, and even got into topics like academic publishing v. popular publishing, digital journals, and institutional bureaucracy. Later that day, Dr. Lester and I were discussing my edits, and the two of us began talking about a conference at Brown where I might submit my research paper for this internship — which analyzes shifting modes of publishing, subvention, and the inevitable rise of digital journals. She gave me a lot of great information on how to position and frame my paper.

Both Murphree and Lester take so much time out of their schedule to discuss things with me in a very upfront and honest way — and the topic doesn’t have to be about the internship itself. I continue to learn so much about the profession, the ‘nature of the business,’ and the need to ready myself for the fluctuating job market.

In addition, professors are always in-and-out of the office, and I have been able to have great discussions with Drs. Gannon, Cassanello, French, and Clark about anything from GIS, Urban historical theory, the ‘attack on the humanities’, and ways to find Orlando government documents (you can take your own guess as to who talked to me about what based on the prof’s you know—I jumbled it up a bit on purpose).

The Words of Wisdom aspect of this internship is by the far the best part. Certainly I am gaining proficiency as an editor, which will improve my own work while readying me for a future as a journal editor. I’m definitely learning more about Florida history as well, which has been great — I’m dying to test my new knowledge if Jeopardy ever does a Florida history category.

But more than anything, I am soaking up tons of information about the profession itself that will be invaluable. I have a feeling that looking back, I’ll view this internship as the best class I’ve taken in regards to preparing me for a career as a college professor.

Well, time to get back to it — papers don’t edit themselves!

Thanks for reading!

-Garrett

Week 3: Edits, edits, and more edits

I’m quickly realizing that strength of academic study does not equate to strength of citation skills. In my third week at FHQ, I’ve gotten much more involved in the expected duties of my job title: Copy Editing Intern.

Essentially, I am sent a copy of an article/manuscript by our editors, and I have to read them, check footnotes for the correct style, check citations, check quotations for accuracy, and check for typographical and spelling errors.

It sounds easy enough, but the two manuscripts I have edited thus far have been quite the challenge.

Footnotes:

I’ve noticed that scholars not only make mistakes in their footnotes — which is to be expected, nobody’s perfect — but they also can’t seem to pick which incorrect footnoting style they want to stick with. A scholar will cite one book 5 times, and format the citation differently each time. Author, title, page…Page, author, title…URL accessed 10/13/12…retrieved on October 13, 2012, URL…..

So, the job here is not only editing, but making sure that your head is on straight enough to keep up with all the errors, and the different ways in which they are made. What I mean is — I’ll be doing so much editing and addressing of errors, that I notice my styles aren’t consistent in my edits. It’s tough to communicate in a blog, I suppose, but basically what I mean is — my head is spinning around trying to keep up with the author’s mistakes, and my corrections.

Citations/Accuracy

One of the difficult parts of the internship here involves checking the quotations for accuracy. When possible, I have to visit the source (be it an article, digitized paper, census record, etc…) and make sure that the author cited correctly. My first thought was, “Come on, that’s a lot of work to check up on somebody who must have been careful enough not to mis-quote.” However, the reality is — these scholars are sloppy. If the notes are unprofessional, it stands to reason that the citing might be too.

Thankfully I haven’t picked up on many errors yet, in regards to misquoting. However, the checking takes a lot of time, and I get worried that my bosses are in their offices going, “Jeez, when is this kid going to finish this edit, already?!

But I’m sure that’s just the nervous intern in me, and really they appreciate taking my time and doing things right. Editing isn’t something that should be done quickly.

Typographical/Spelling Errors

As you can probably imagine, a lot of people –myself included–make mistakes typing. The computer generally catches spelling errors, so I haven’t caught many of those (I know we all love those little red squiggly lines on Word!), but I have noticed a lot of — Blacks instead of blacks, Whites instead of whites, effect instead of affect, Northern instead of northern, etc…

Week 3 Conclusion

All in all, job is still going great! I’m learning a lot and ‘professionalizing’ myself for the future. But for all of you reading this — learn to get your footnotes right! Have mercy on the poor editors!!