Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Journal acceptance rates

One thing that I've thought academic theology could benefit from is some more transparency concerning the article acceptance rates in journals. I'm thinking of something like this, published by the APA every year for psychology periodicals. Many journals post these statistics themselves, but I don't think I've ever seen any theology titles with such information.

The benefit of such published rates is that you get to see at least a glimpse of how much rigorous editing is being done. While one journal could always conceivably attract stellar research that never needs to be substantially revised, the presumable trend would be that more rigorous journals reject more articles and send more articles back with a "revise & resubmit" stamp on them. I know that personally, when I send an article to one journal that sails through the editorial process while another article in another journal receives a raking over the coals before it makes it to print, I tend to have a sense that the more demanding journal is probably a better place to publish. This isn't always the case, of course, but it's a decent rule of thumb. Especially for us young scholars (who quite simply have a lot to learn), it's important to be wary when the first you see of your manuscript after initial submission (your manuscript... not editorial comments about your manuscript) is a proof to review.

I imagine that many journals keep these acceptance stats and would be able to provide them upon solicitation. But a more organized approach would be beneficial, especially in a humanities discipline like theology where a numerical ranking can be more subjective and relative to the currently prevailing schools of thought.


  1. Good post. I too am experiencing this as we speak. I have a rather long article (pushing the word count limit) currently under the gun at HTR. It's been about a year since my first submission. I revised and re-submitted about 6 months ago.

    I was just happy I got past the gate on this one…

  2. Congratulations on your article! HTR is a wonderful place to land a publication. Please let me know when it comes out, in case I miss it in my usual journal-scanning. (you haven't said that it's been accepted, I know... but without jinxing you, I'm confident!)

    My first article, in TS, was a revise & re-submit, with a good deal of comments from one of the reviewers (he or she even mailed back a manuscript all marked up). The process was also relatively efficient- it was 13 months between submission and having the article in print, even given an r&r. David Schultenover, the editor, was also very helpful and often in touch by email concerning the article, so the whole process was quite a good experience. I'd recommend the journal to anyone who has a piece that might be a good fit for it, and I'm hoping to send them more work if I ever have the time to sit down and do it.