Editorial December 2015

23rd December 2015

Sandra Bowdler, Vicky Winton, Kate Morse, Joe Dortch and Jane Balme

It is a great privilege to take over the editorial duties for Australian Archaeology, the premier academic journal for the dissemination of Australian archaeological research. Perhaps our most important task is to acknowledge the previous editorial team, Heather Burke and Lynley Wallis and, before them, Annie Ross and Sean Ulm, who together have raised the journal to the level it now occupies, as a Tier A journal of international reach and consequence, which covers the gamut of archaeological inquiry (Indigenous, historical, maritime, rock art) in Australia and its near neighbours. It is our task to carry on and extend the traditions of academic quality and stringent research standards already established.

To introduce our team, Emeritus Professor Sandra Bowdler, with a background of research mainly in Aboriginal Australia, assumes the role of Editor, and her job is to oversee the team and co-ordinate their efforts in distributing submissions to appropriate referees, compiling referees’ reports and providing appropriate feedback and assessment to submitters, proof-reading all papers and seeing them through to the final publication process. Two Assistant Editors have been appointed, Dr Kate Morse and Dr Vicky Winton. Kate’s expertise lies in Aboriginal Australian archaeology with extensive experience in Western Australia. Vicky formerly specialised in lithics of the British Palaeolithic and now researches Aboriginal archaeology in Western Australia. Dr Jane Balme and Dr Joe Dortch are AA consulting editors, whose breadth and depth of experience in Australian archaeology provide a solid sounding-board for resolving editorial quandaries. We would also like to introduce you to our Editorial Assistant, Wendy Reynen.  Wendy, now a PhD student in Archaeology at UWA after more than five years’ experience as a consulting archaeologist, will have contacted some of you already with respect to submissions and book reviews for AA.

In our bid for the editorship (presented at the AAA Annual Conference in 2014), we expressed the hope that we would continue with the current breadth of approach, without losing the original focus on Australian archaeological research, and to be the place to which people naturally turn for the latest research and ideas about Australian archaeology. We hope also to maintain the desire expressed by both sets of previous editors to recognise diversity by achieving an acceptable gender balance amongst contributors, encouraging contributions from non-university based researchers, and increasing participation at all levels by our Indigenous colleagues. We hope also to play a positive mentoring role for younger members of the profession.

Without taking unwarranted credit, we would like to note, with respect to diversity, that in our first issue there are five articles by 16 named authors. Of the latter, seven are women and one is an Aboriginal Corporation, so that is setting a good standard! For the future, we will be seeking to increase Indigenous involvement in the journal, not just in terms of contributors, but also in terms of referees, book reviewers, members of the Editorial Advisory Board and any other appropriate capacities. We urge non-Indigenous contributors to continue to think of creative ways to involve our Indigenous colleagues, who, while they may not be trained academics, will have other intellectual and productive contributions to make.

In particular, we encourage our younger scholars to submit articles, even knowing they may not yet be quite perfect (and bear in mind, nothing is). At AA, your paper will be read by appropriate senior colleagues and we want you to get the best possible advice. We recognise that the shift from writing as a supervised student to undergoing criticism as an independent researcher can be tough. Do not give up! Take constructive advice on board, and benefit from the experience.

With this in mind, we also reiterate to our reviewers that we want you to be as positive and constructive as you can. High-handed negative assessments, personal allusions or sarcastic commentaries are not appropriate. We suggest that all our referees think hard about the need for hiding their identity. In a relatively small profession, there will sometimes be perceived animus amongst colleagues, and discretion may be best. On the other hand, allowing your name to be associated with your report will ensure that you remain within the bounds of civility and positive comment. It also allows the recipient of your comments to appreciate your experience in a particular area of interest, and lets them know what experience you are sharing with them.

Many of you will know that we are moving towards a new and exciting (or terrifying) mode of journal production and, possibly by the time you read this, AA will be being published under the aegis of international publishers Taylor and Francis. We believe there are great benefits to be had here in terms of finance, and also with respect to a new, smoother handling of subscriptions, and a more streamlined mode of production for the editorial team. You will be receiving three issues a year rather than two, and the new arrangement will also provide a much wider international access for AA, with respect to its dissemination through world-wide institutions.

There are also some possible drawbacks, with respect, for instance, to the availability of recent issues to non-members. We will, however, do our best to maintain a personal editorial connection with our contributors particularly, so that you do not find yourself dealing only with impersonal simulacra of ourselves.

We are adopting some new publication policies in-house. Foremost among these is that we would like to redefine the “Short Report”. Currently, it is functioning more as a somewhat short article, rather than a research report. In future, we would like to see Short Reports of no longer than 1500 words which consist of a crisp announcement of research projects, preferably with a summary of results.

Bowdler, S., Winton, V., Morse, K., Dortch, J. and J. Balme
December 2015
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