Dear Selection Committee:
I would like to serve as editor of the Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology (JQCJC). Below, I describe my suitability for the position, editorial philosophy, and vision for the journal.
I meet the selection criteria specified in the position announcement. I was awarded a PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri—St. Louis. I am willing to maintain active SWACJ membership and attend requisite business meetings, assuming a reasonable health risk.1 My scholarly products include two books, more than forty articles, and ten-plus chapters. I have not had the privilege to publish in JQCJC, but I have published qualitative research in outlets like Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and the Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency. I have editorial experience, serving as editor of International Criminal Justice Review; assistant editor of the British Journal of Sociology; on the editorial board of a few journals; and, reviewing for more than forty journals, including JQCJC. More details about me are available at https://scottjacques.us; that site has my CV.
My editorial philosophy is that by acting in the best interests of authors and reviewers, the readers will be happy and the journal will be impactful. This is informed by my experience as an author and reviewer. It orients my approach to answering editorial questions, such as:
Should a paper be sent out for review? My sense is that some editors send papers out for review despite a very low probability of ever accepting them. Those editors have good intentions, but, as an author and reviewer, I prefer the dreaded yet merciful “desk reject.” So that is my approach as editor.
Post-review, should a paper be published? If not, should the author(s) be given the chance to revise and resubmit? As an author and reviewer, I find it frustrating when an editor overrides the (clear) majority opinion of referees. Sometimes, that is warranted. Generally, however, publication decisions should strongly reflect reviewers’ assessments. So that, too, is my approach as editor.
The vision for the journal is to increase its impact by making more of its strengths and fixing its weaknesses.
Weaknesses include the technological and aesthetic features of article submission and, more so, dissemination. For example, articles in an issue are published in a PDF (instead of in separate PDFs on their own webpages), presumably without much metadata; articles are not assigned DOIs; those issues harm the discoverability of articles; the review process is better suited to the early 2000s than 2020.
A strength is the journal’s qualitative focus. Yet, also due to the above problems, the journal lacks the ability to seamlessly integrate and beautifully disseminate the unique audio and visual aspects of qualitative research.
Other weaknesses are branding and marketing. The journal title does more to hide the qualitative focus than highlight it; it is a mouthful and difficult to remember; ditto the acronym. There is no Twitter account, the major social media site for academics. There is no logo. All of this is to say that the journal can do more to be identifiable and memorable.
The journal’s other strength is its “diamond” status: free to read — i.e., open access — but without an article processing charge (APC). This should be a huge selling point, but, currently, it is hidden behind a confusing explanation on the last page of the journal website.
How would we build on the journal’s strengths and solve its weaknesses? By giving the entire journal a substantial upgrade, at little to no extra cost — possibly even saving money. We would move everything to PubPub, an MIT product that is very affordable. That would solve all of the aforementioned technological and aesthetic problems. We would give the journal a better title, such as Qualitative Criminology or Qualitative Crime & Justice. We would start a Twitter account, make an elegant logo, and engage in other (free or inexpensive) improvements in branding and marketing. We would take advantage of the journal’s diamond status by highlighting it on the website and in our marketing materials, educating our colleagues about the benefits of open access for impact and social justice.2 We would further emphasize that strength by partnering (at no-cost) with my nonprofit corporation, Criminology Open.
To help show you what I have in mind, I wrote this letter on PubPub, which I published as part of this mock website. Feel free to click around. To see what the journal’s articles would more or less look like, click here. Please note: I made this site strictly for illustrative purposes, with the blessing of Lynne Vieraitis; it is extremely unlikely that anyone will happen upon this site; I will make the site private or delete it once the search for editor is complete.
My department chair, Dean Dabney,3 will follow up with a letter of commitment indicating institutional support. Thank you for your consideration.
Scott Jacques, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice & Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University