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Where to publish online articles on music: journals review

In the last two decades musicology and music theory are moving from text based research towards methodologies that include wider cultural and social contexts. One of the results of this shift is the need of scholars to include sound recordings and other multimedia features in the presentation of their research. This post will review some of the online music journals where one can publish and enjoy the vast possibilities offered by the web.

Before I will review the journals I would like to state briefly some of the advantages of publishing online:

More people read online articles
Search engines such as Google constantly scan the web and index any new information that appears on websites. When people search the web the search engines aim to offer them the most relevant information. In practice, this means that they are working for you for free. They bring you audience on a daily basis to your online articles.

More people quote your online articles
As a result of this, there is more chance that people will find your article and react to it. This is true also in the scholarly world. Today, any scholar who respects himself will use, not only university catalogs, but also the search engines and other online resources to find articles on music. Publishing on the web has the potential of making people quote your articles more often. In the academy, the more you are quoted, the more you are appreciated.

The medium is the message
Using the web offers you the possibility of linking to other resources, adding sound, video and other multimedia features. Music Theory Online is the most advance journal that is consciously attempting to implement these features.

Social reaction
Unfortunately, there is no online journal that is using the web as a truly interactive tool. In the Web 2.0 age, the internet is an excellent medium for scholars and other people to react (comments on articles, forums, sharing possibilities (such as Stumbleupon)) to the work of one and other in other formats than articles. We are still waiting for MTO or a new journal to take the initiative and implement these features.

A kleine disadvantage

Having said all this, there are some disadvantages in online publishing. One is the fact that it is hard to read an article on the web. The result is a kind of scan through reading that gives less attention to what the author wrote. Very few readers bother to print the article and fully read it. There are probably other disadvantages that I did not think of (feel free to comment below).

It seems to me that the disadvantage is negligible in comparison to the advantages that I just stated. This and the fact that my research often includes sound examples leads me to publish most of my articles in online journals.

I have gathered some links to online journals on music that can be helpful for anyone who wishes to find places to publish an article. In the following I will review some of these journals:

Music Theory Online

If you want a high level peer-reviewed scholarly journal on music you should first turn to Music Theory Online (MTO). This journal is live and kicking (not like most of the online journals that stopped publishing several years ago, or publish very rarely). MTO encourages the use of web features such as scans of sound examples in impressive formats, the use of recordings and probably anything that the web can offer. The articles are published as web pages (and not pdf of doc files). This is better for the search engines indexing. Yet, it is not easy to read through these long articles on the computer screen. Research shows that people do not usually read more than 600 words on one web page. The printing possibilities are still something that needs improvement in MTO. As mentioned above, that would be wise to include things like commenting, forum, web 2.0 sharing and other social features that can be useful in creating interaction between people and help the information spread on the web.

Journal of Music and Meaning

This journal is less popular and prestigious than MTO. Unlike MTO which includes everything. M&M encourages articles that deal with the meaning of music. It “encourages any multidisciplinary research on meaning that is able to challenge conceptions of music, or research that explores the notion of meaning by the study of musical phenomena.” It is a peer-reviewed journal and it has a forum (which is not very active)

Min-Ad and JSMI
These journals are local journals (in the sense that most people who publish there are locals). Min-Ad is from Israel and JSMI is from Ireland. They publish many kinds of things. JSMI attempts more than Min-Ad to be international by approaching authors from other countries. Another reason to speak about these two journals in one breath is the fact that their articles are published in pdf format. This has the advantage of easy printing in a professional format. There is the stated above disadvantage of being less friendly to the search engine robots (these articles therefore attract less web visitors).

Long live Gamut
Gamut is a new online journal on music. It is peer-reviewed online journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic. Journals need money for editing and other activities, and only some rich universities have such possibilities. This is why most journals die after several issues. We hope that Gamut will have a different destiny.

Ethnomusicology Online - EOL and Journal of Film Music

There are journal that deal with very specific areas. EOL focuses on ethnomusicology and JFM on film music. If you have an article that falls in one of these areas, it would be wise to check these places first.

ECHO and British Postgraduate Musicology

If you are a student you should be aware that publishing is something that you would like to start sooner rather than later. This will help you find a job later on. ECHO and British Postgraduate Musicology are two places where students can publish. I must admit that when I started to publish online I approached MTO. Tina Ramnarine advised me: “Always aim high. Start with the most prestigious journal or publishing house and then approach the others”. Having said this, I did publish in local journals such as Min-Ad and Tav+ in order be locally known and support the latter journal in its first steps.

Semi online journals: RMA
There are many journals that have web pages with some information about their non-web articles and activities. Some journals publish online only abstracts and/or selected articles. The feeling is that the “real thing” is the paper journal. The Royal Music Association Journal does not pretend to be an online journal. However, Nicholas Cook arranged that it will have the possibility to add sound examples on the web. So one can read the paper article and then turn to the web to hear the sound recordings.

Other issues to consider
Before submitting your article to an online journal it would be wise to look who is sitting on the editorial board (this is true also for non-online journals). In order to avoid the process of being rejected (see Zoë Lang post on the challenges of getting published as a young scholar) by editors who are not in favor of your kind of scholarship, read or at least go through some of their articles.

Some journals, like JMSI, request the surfer to register before being able to read an article. This process discourages many surfers from going on and accessing the article. For the editors of journals registration might seem a small matter comparing to the advantages of reading the articles. However, for the web surfers this might mean going on to other sites.

How will look future online journals on music
There is a feeling that musicologists are still thinking in paper format when they create a journal of write on the web. Here are some points for those who will create the online music journal of the future:

(1) The will include text formats that will be friendly both for search engines and human readers.
(2) They will include possibilities of commenting and forum discussions.
(3) They will include possibilities of sharing information between users and sites.
(4) They will use all of the advantages of multimedia presentations on music and music related information.

2 Responses to “Where to publish online articles on music: journals review”

  • Nicholas Cook responded:

    I agree with what you say. A few comments: (1) MTO used to have an associated list called MTO-talk, but it no longer exists, so your point about commentaries is well taken. (2) The main disadvantage of publishing in on-line journals, which you don’t mention, is that they aren’t generally rated so highly by research assessment panels, promotion committees etc. That’s not in principle justifiable, and will probably change, but for the time being it is a fact for people trying to build their careers etc. Hybrid journals like JRMA offer a compromise–but as you say, it’s a compromise. (3) some other distinguished online journals are Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, Empirical Musicology Review and Radical Musicology.

  • Avior Byron responded:

    It is a pity that online journals “aren’t generally rated so highly by research assessment panels, promotion committees”. I wonder why this is the case. I would assume that content is what matters and not format.

    Thank you Nicholas Cook for mentioning the journals that you did. I didn’t know Empirical Musicology Review and Radical Musicology. I now added them to my online music journals links.

    I forgot to write in my post that one of the great things about the web is RSS and email notifications for subscribers. Some non-online journals (like music and letters) use it. Paradoxically, online journals do not use it at the moment. RSS helps one receive notifications about new publications or new forum posts as they are published. By the way, it would be nice if the RHUL conference web page would have an RSS. This way people who use an RSS reader (free) will know about every single conference (and conference call for papers) the moment they are published!

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