The end goal of “academic writing” is not just producing a piece of writing that follows a particular format and style. Rather, the end goal – at least once you as the author are no longer writing simply to fulfill a class requirement – is a piece of writing that can then be published in the form of a book, a chapter in an edited essay collection, or, most likely, an article in an academic journal. But this kind of end goal implies an immediate and obvious question – how do you, as an author of a potential journal article, first go about deciding which journals to submit your paper to?
There are plenty of both general and subject-specific guides to the process – and plenty of consultants who will gladly offer advice to a new author – for an appropriate fee. In many fields, the decision process is not that complicated to begin with because these fields are broad and interdisciplinary, and are served by journals that are not hard to identify – titles like Japan Forum, Japanese Studies, and the Journal of Japanese Studies are all good examples, as are the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of Academic Librarianship. On the other hand, there are also many journals that focus on very specific topics and subject areas – Science Fiction Film and Television comes to mind right away, as does something like International Research in Children’s Literature. Presumably, by the time an author of a potential academic article is at the point where they are ready to submit the article for publication, they will also be familiar with the possible journals to submit their article to – through several years of class readings, and, if nothing else, through the process of writing the article – and so, locating and engaging with material that has already been published in other journals.
At the same time, though, at least right now, there is no such thing as an English-language academic journal that specifically focuses on anime and manga. So, anyone who is looking to publish work in anime/manga studies necessarily has to consider “other” journals – and plenty of them. For example, in the 2017 Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, I identify a total of 86 individual journal articles – published in 53 different journals. Yes, 14 journals published more than one article on anime/manga last year – but 39 others – titles such as Current Issues in Tourism, the International Journal on Media Management, the Journal of Language Teaching and Research, and Transnational Cinemas only had a single one. So, given this, it is particularly important to highlight any resources that potential authors can use to assist them in considering journals to submit their research to. And one such resource is Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences – a collection of profiles of over 70 individual academic journals, originally developed by Princeton University graduate students taking a class on – writing a journal article for publication.
Each profile opens with the answer to a straight-forward question – what kind of author can hope to publish their work in the particular journal – both in terms of the specific topics, subjects or fields of the work, and in terms of the author’s personal characteristics. So, the review of the journal Representations notes right away that it is “For those with articles that engage with cultural studies, reading practices, and debates about interpretation”, while the one for Social Text makes the point that it is “an interdisciplinary journal that publishes professors at all stages of their careers.” The bulk of the profiles is then taken up by an inherently subjective evaluation/commentary on the journal – not necessarily on the content of any individual issue, but on its overall philosophy, if any, goals, approaches, and authors’ experiences with it, concluding with a standardized “Useful for submission” items such as expected word counts, publication frequency, the journal’s citation style, the number of issues published per year, and other similar technical details. However, not all of the profiles follow the same format, and some are much more brief.
Ultimately, at this point, the utility of the Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences to the field of anime/manga studies specifically is somewhat limited. Only several of the journals that it has covered so far have published scholarship on Japanese animation or Japanese comics. On the other hand, just the list of journals it presents can serve as an inspiration for authors and as a way to direct the scopes, approaches, and methodologies of their work. And, hopefully, the resource is a work in progress, and as it develops further, its contributors will review other journals, including some that do focus significantly more on anime/manga – it would be great, for example, to see a review of a title like the Journal of Fandom Studies, Positions: Asia Critique, or Transformative Works and Cultures!