23 April 2020 by Lisa Melonçon
Over at the journal, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, we continue to work hard in moving manuscripts through review, and we’ve also been working through proposals for RHM’s fourth (!) special issue on the rhetoric of chronicity.
As I’ve outlined previously, we do special issues a little differently than many journals. In our case, we developed our system based on feedback from our editorial boarding the broader community. The system is created to avoid some of what editorial board members—and the editors—felt are problems that sometimes affect special issues, such as less rigorous review standards/easier to get into, the feeling that only friends of the editor were invited, and issues that don’t cohere.
This explanation does three important things: (1) it continues RHM’s dedication to making the review and publishing process as transparent as possible; (2) it provides a type of accountability to the editorial board, the readers , and to the broader RHM community; and, finally, (3) it simply explains the process for those who submitted to this special issue and those that will, hopefully, submit to the journal in the future.
We received 42 proposals, which is a healthy number for a special issue of any journal, and we were quite pleased with this turn out. Contributors spanned a number of RHM related fields (e.g. composition, rhetoric, communication studies, technical and professional communication, and allied health fields, etc.) and held a variety of different ranks and titles (e.g. graduate students, grant-funded researchers, tenured professors, healthcare practitioners, etc.). Lora Anderson and Jeff Bennett, special issue co-editors read anonymous versions of the proposals and selected 16 to move forward to the second state of review for research articles. The main factors that lead proposals to the second round of review: (1) were they clearly connected to theme and (2) did they include a direct engagement with Rhetoric. (See our captioned video or transcript on what we mean by rhetoric). In addition, the co-editors tried to move forward a diverse set of proposals based on topic and methodology.
Those 16 proposals were then forwarded to Blake Scott (co-editor of RHM), a member of editorial board, and a reviewer from the RHM community. The three of them were asked to rank the proposals from 1 to 16, with 1 being the best. Each reviewer was familiar with the CFP, but beyond that no other ranking instructions were given because we wanted their responses to be based on their own readings of the information presented in the proposals and their own perspectives of the proposals’ relevance and timeliness.
I collated those responses. As co-editors of the special issue, one of Lora and Jeff’s jobs is to set the focus of the issue. Therefore, when reviewing rankings and the proposals they made the decisions on how proposals talked to each other holistically. A guiding factor, therefore, was how well each individual proposal worked toward a coherent issue that gets a bunch of things represented and shows the breadth of RHM work and influence. In the end, we accepted seven proposals and have invited those contributors to submit full manuscripts that will be sent through the regular peer review process. This means the proposal acceptance rate was 17%. It is important to note that even though these proposals were accepted, they still have to go through the RHM review process. Unlike many special issues, RHM does not have to fill pages (so to speak), which means that we are committed to publishing the strongest essays as possible.
We are excited about the potential this issue holds and look forward to sharing it with you!!
Until then, wishing you health, peace, and joy!