Logging On

Cheryl Ball, Editor

Kairos in the news; in Kairos news

Since January 2012, when Kairos appeared in Inside Higher Ed, in a column about the future of peer review at MLA, the international recognition of the journal seems to be growing. We are certainly pleased about this. Further promoting our editorial review process, I served this year on an advisory board for a Mellon-funded grant to explore open peer review, sponsored by NYU Press and MediaCommons. The advisory committee helped Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Avi Santo brainstorm features of open review systems that might work for university and other presses and publishing venues, so that Fitzpatrick and Santo could write a white paper with recommendations. I'm sure some of you saw a draft of this white paper, which was (not surprisingly ;) available for open review on MediaCommons through CommentPress. I presented the group's white paper, including a section on Kairos's semi-open review process, at Association of American University Presses in June.

Thinking back to one of the advisory meetings last January, I'll never forget some participants' expressions when I explained Kairos's mentoring review system. For those who haven't yet experienced this process, it is described on our editorial board page and, in brief, includes a rigorous, three-tiered mentoring and review process in which we encourage authors with thorough, developmental feedback through multiple rounds of revision and review. We understand that composing webtexts is often a new genre (and even when not new, it is certainly difficult), and so we owe it to our authors to help them through the process, with the hope, but not necessarily the assumption, that with enough revision and support, and author can publish great work. It's a delicate balance of trust, without handholding. (The duh-piphany is that this mentoring process is also incredibly useful in writing classrooms--what I like to call an editorial pedagogy.)

Those not yet involved in multimedia publishing are astonished at the amount of editorial (and authorial) work that goes into a single webtext, let alone a single issue of Kairos. The rule of thumb I usually provide is that webtextual work takes three times longer to author and to edit than print-based work. But that level of detail and attention is what has made the journal stronger and of higher quality. In the first fifteen years of the journal, our number of submissions has stayed roughly the same while the number of webtexts we published per issue has decreased from an average of 22 (in the journal's first years) to 9 (in the last few years). Although there are several factors that lead to this change in publication rate, the rigor and scholarly legitimacy of the journal has improved, we think, in part due to the mentoring and review processes. Our attention to quality (without suffering the experimental nature of the journal) has increased the international recognition of the journal, proved perhaps by the number of advisory boards Douglas and I have been asked to serve on due to our Kairos expertise, as well as by the number of informational requests we receive regarding new implementations of multimedia journals in the last few months. We are happy to consult on these projects and are starting to offer workshops for interested editors and presses. Let us know if you have a need for a planning or implementation session.

But all that rigor has its pitfalls as well, particularly when it comes to the labor of human resources, otherwise known as our staff. With a staff of 25 divvied unevenly across seven sections, our initial reasoning to separate the workflows was to provide an autonomous and experimental environment for staff to work within. However, asking each section to provide developmental editing, reviewing, and copy editing has proved to be unsustainable. We hire amazing people at Kairos—they will tell you that our application procedures are as rigorous as our review procedures!—but we have also not been able to mentor staff as best as we could because it meant increasing an already heavy workload. Doug and I realized that the current system no longer worked.

So this fall, we have two complementary projects planned. First, we will be implementing our synchronous editorial review plug-in into Open Journal Systems, which will allow us to host all of our editorial communications in a database. (We will still publish each issue outside of OJS until a workable front-end fix to the difficult-to-customize OJS interface can be made. We will write more about our OJS implementation in the January issue.) Second, aided by the workflow and roles inherent in OJS, we will be changing our Tier 1 review process and copy-editing procedures to better accommodate staff communication, expertise, and workloads without sacrificing the quality we have gained over the years. We will separate the developmental work within each section from the copy-editing work of the whole issue. Under this new system, section editors will work collaboratively with each other to review initial submissions to all sections, and then, individual to each section, developmentally edit those submissions with the authors. Assistant editors, who previously worked only within their sections, will be moved to a centralized structure and be responsible for collaboratively copyediting each issue. The intent of separating the developmental and production workflows is to reduce workload for section editors and assistant editors, increase communication and training across all sections of the journal, and improve our quality at each stage of the publishing process. We'll evaluate these changes over the next year or two, and if you, as readers and potential authors, have questions about these changes, please let us know. But, hopefully, you won't even notice the changes.

As the year progresses, I'll be excited to reflect on and write about these changes and our other honed procedures as Doug and I draft a book about webtext production and the future of academic publishing. We hope to share some of this in-progress content for your feedback, so stay tuned.

  • About Kairos

    Kairos is a refereed open-access online journal exploring the intersections of rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. The journal reaches a wide audience -- currently 45,000 readers per month, hailing from Ascension Island to Zimbabwe (and from every top-level domain country code in between); our international readership typically runs about 4,000 readers per month. Kairos publishes bi-annually, in August and January, with occasional special issues in May. Our current acceptance rate for published articles is approximately 10%.

    Since its first issue in January of 1996, the mission of Kairos has been to publish scholarship that examines digital and multimodal composing practices, promoting work that enacts its scholarly argument through rhetorical and innovative uses of new media. Kairos is one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in English Studies, made so by its dedication to academic quality through the journal’s extensive peer-review and editorial production processes.

    We publish "webtexts," which are texts authored specifically for publication on the World Wide Web. Webtexts are scholarly examinations of topics related to technology in English Studies fields (e.g., rhetoric, composition, technical and professional communication, education, creative writing, language and literature) and related fields such as media studies, informatics, arts technology, and others. Besides scholarly webtexts, Kairos publishes teaching-with-technology narratives, reviews of print and digital media, extended interviews with leading scholars, interactive exchanges, "letters" to the editors, and news and announcements of interest.

    Because questions of copyright, intellectual property, and fair use often arise for scholars who wish to create digital publications, we have developed a statement of copyright that encourages authors to carefully consider their rights and responsibilities while advocating for a strengthening of fair use. Our copyright statement also provides authors with the opportunity to build upon and republish their work because we are committed to the continuing development of intellectual work and believe that authors should retain the rights to scholarly production.

    We invite you to share your views about Kairos, and we hope you'll consider submitting your work for our editorial review.

     —Douglas Eyman, Kairos Senior Editor/Publisher, kairosrtp@gmail.com. Virginia, USA.

  • Kairos Staff

    • Senior Editors

      • Douglas Eyman
      • Cheryl Ball
    • Editor

      • Michael J. Faris
    • Managing Editors

      • Christopher Andrews
      • Erin Kathleen Bahl
    • Praxis/Wiki
      & Topoi Editors

      • Tim Amidon
      • Elkie Burnside
      • Elizabeth Fleitz
      • Kristi McDuffie
    • Disputatio Editor

      • Rick Wysocki
    • Inventio Editors

      • Elizabeth Chamberlain
      • Rich Shivener
    • Reviews Editors

      • Ashanka Kumari
      • Jonathan Marine
    • Interviews Editors

      • Brandy Dieterle
      • Monica F. Jacobe
    • Communications Editors

      • Cameron Cavaliere
      • Vyshali Manivannan
    • Special Projects Editor

      • Traci Gardner
    • Member of CELJ