By Mike O'Malley | October 16, 2012
*Editors’ Note: American History Now is the newest journal to be launched as part of the Pressforward Project.
Have you got some research, a small conclusion, an idea or possibility; some piece of work which isn’t really suitable for the standard journal format? Maybe a piece which doesn’t fit easily in any single discipline? Would you like feedback on an idea you’re struggling with? Would you like to publish this work in a peer reviewed format without waiting the years it typically takes in a major journal?
American History Now is eager to publish your work.
Have you just taught or read a book for the first time? Or have you just re-examined an old classic in your field? Did you come out of a class full of ideas about the book, ideas that would be valuable to write down and useful to share?
American History Now wants to publish your review right away, not years down the line.
Do you maintain a blog, and would like that blog to reach a wider audience among historians and the “history minded?” Have you thought about starting a blog, but held off because you were unsure who your readers might be? Or simply unsure how to do it?
American History Now wants your blog to find its audience.
At American History Now we are building new forms of “research community,” new forms of academic dialogue. We would like to promote faster, more fluid exchange of ideas, less encumbered by the scarcities print imposes. We’re approaching that goal from several directions.
First, the American History Now site collects reviews related to U.S. history from around the web. But it also lets any user add a review, of any book he or she has read. It lets other users comment on those reviews, to establish a dialogue about both new books and old classics.
We’ve established two categories of reviews, “first takes” and “second takes.” First takes are reviews of a book you’ve just read. Second takes are reviews of books you’ve read before and have reconsidered. If you’ve just read a book and want others to know about it, you can review it quickly. If you’ve long grappled with a classic in your field, you can post your thoughts at AHN.
We are also trying to encourage longer, “deeper” forms of historical work through we are calling “research notebooks.” You might think of a research notebook as a blog, a place where you can post ideas, early drafts, interdisciplinary research, or shorter-form work. Any serious student or practitioner of history can establish a research notebook at American History Now. if you don’t wish to start a blog, you can contribute by simply emailing your work to email@example.com
It’s vital to stress that contributions to AHN will be public, and available for comment in real time, by any reader. We seek to build a community in which interested persons can engage in constructive dialogue; we want to promote openness. But just as the profession of history has standards of conduct and behavior which it teaches and enforces, so comments at AHN will use held to a strict standard of civility. The editors will actively police comments for trolling, personal attacks, and general discourtesy.
The editors will also vett contributions to AHN, and regularly designate particularly good work as “Editor’s Choice.” To be selected as an “editors choice, work must be of high quality and demonstrable general interest and value, as demonstrated by the responses of AHN’s community of readers and/or as recognized by the editorial board.
American History Now aims to address some of the shortcomings and limits of print journals. We’d like to end the multi-year delay before reviews appear. We’d like to promote open, lively dialogue about commonly used books. And most important, we’d like to create a space for re-thinking scholarly communication. We’d like to make peer review a more open process, and to facilitate the kind of vital intellectual discussion that happens in small seminars, in the halls outside conference rooms, and in conversation between friends and colleagues. If you have work that doesn’t fit anywhere else, or ideas you’d like to discuss, AHN has a place for you.