Advice on unresponsive journal

+8 votes

I wrote up a detailed sketch of three generations of an eighteenth century family from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The progenitors had nine kids with only one birth record. I sourced it extensively, and submitted it to a certain reputable genealogical journal.  Before undertaking the extensive formatting to meet their specifications, I contacted the journal to see if the article would be appropriate for them. The essentially said give it a shot.

I submitted the article formally on June 1.  I haven't heard a thing -- no confirmation of its receipt or anything else.   Two weeks later, I wrote a brief message requesting confirmation of the receipt of my manuscript.  I sent the message directly to the editor-in-chief, who had responded personally to my initial inquiry.  Still no response.  Two weeks later, I sent another short message.  Still nothing, so I begin to worry something happened to him.  So after another two weeks, I sent an email to the "editors" email requesting receipt and re-providing my correct email address.  Still nothing.

I don't have any expectation that the article will be published.  But their own website says there should have been an acknowledgement during the first week after submission (not a direct quote).  I want to get it published somewhere.  If this journal rejects it, I already have a second and then a third in mind to try.  But I cannot move on to the second journal -- the number one rule in submitting to journals is only submit to one journal at a time.  If I resubmit to the second journal and then it comes out that the first journal had been considering the manuscript, I would probably be blacklisted by multiple journals.  

I have published several articles in mathematics and science and have never encountered this before.  Perhaps the process in genealogy is different?  So this is a shout-out for some advice from the genealogy community.  Thanks in advance.

Edit: If I do send a letter of withdrawal and approach the second journal, is it a good idea to be up front with them about the situation?  That would provide even more cover, but on the other hand, nobody likes being told he/she was the second choice.  And more importantly I worry that they might just say "hard pass" because of the uncertainty and the risk that they might it might turn into a headache for them.

in The Tree House by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (220k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Keep in mind that it's also summer.  Their staffing may be impacted by holiday schedules.
Whatever happened with this, Barry?
Hah. I finally got a review. Said they would publish it, although I had to make some revisions first -- nothing major. But then I told them I had traced the line of one of the main people to the immigrant ancestor and thought it should be published. They said go ahead and expand it and resubmit and they would decide whether to publish a long article or split it into two. So I did that, and it has now been almost a year again with no further contact... I will probably give up sometime this summer and try somewhere else.

4 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer
That's pretty unprofessional behavior on their part.  I can offer two options:

* Send them a copy of your article by certified mail, along with a cover letter describing your concerns about their lack of acknowledgment; or

* Withdraw your submission, maybe backed up with certified mail, and start over elsewhere.  That should prevent double-submitting issues.
by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (653k points)
selected by Dallace Moore
Maybe I'll do both.  It will take a while to reformat for the second journal, so in the meantime the first can be sitting on the snail-mail version and still will have a chance to respond.  But thinking this through has raised another question in my mind that I added as an edit to the OP. Thanks for your advice.

My pleasure, Barry.  Hope it works out for the best!  yes

Thanks for the star, Dallace!  smiley

+5 votes
Could you not put them on notice that if you don’t hear back from them by xx you will be submitting it to the next journal?
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
My concern is that my messages are not getting through for some reason (spam folder, overzealous administrative assistant, or who knows?).  So if that notice doesn’t get through, they might still be acting on it.  But I guess I just need proof that I did all I could and another journal should find that acceptable, no?  Maybe just show that email, but the certified mail idea sounds stronger. Thanks for your advice.
+6 votes
Have you tried a telephone call?
by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (599k points)
Their website lists only email and snail mail addresses under “Contact”, but I’ll do a deeper search for a phone number tomorrow.
Call your library. It can check the MLA Directory of Periodicals and the Publishers Marketplace.

Be aware: 2 points about this

1. Some small press publishers suspend during the summer quarter. No one will "read" until September.

2. If you annoy the editor with too much pestering, he will kick you to the curb.
Thanks for the tip.  I’ve been worrying about point 2 for some time already. This is a journal that everyone who has done serious reading and researching in American genealogy would know, with a big group of editors.  So I don’t think they shut down periodically.
+2 votes

If staff suggested you 'give it a shot', is this a journal that is peer reviewed?  Though they could have acknowledged the submission of your paper, it's possible it was immediately forwarded for review. That will slow the process of selecting for publication
by Jo McCaleb G2G6 Mach 2 (30.0k points)
I believe an editor is assigned to each submission, reviews it, and then sends a decision.  The process can take months, but they say submissions will at least be acknowledged within a week.

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