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Report from the Task Force on Editorial Safeguards

posted by Christopher Howard — May 17, 2011

CAA and other learned societies are increasingly aware of the complex demands and responsibilities entailed by scholarly publishing today. In an era of globalization and digitization, organizations must revisit long-standing assumptions and carefully reconsider the process of developing and reviewing publications. Among the critical issues are copyright, competing political and cultural sensitivities, and even differing international legal standards for what may and may not appear in print or online. In the fall of 2009, Paul Jaskot, then CAA president and in conjunction with the Board of Directors, formed a task force to study the organization’s editorial procedures and safeguards.

The seven-person Task Force on Editorial Safeguards included representation from CAA’s three editorial boards and the Publications Department staff. Meeting monthly by telephone from March to October 2010, and with continued consultation through January 2011, the group carefully documented and studied editorial procedures for each journal. It also gathered information about practices at similar academic periodicals—including those published commercially and by other scholarly associations. Ultimately, the task force was pleased to find that CAA’s editorial safeguards were already among the most through and progressive, though it recognized that they could be strengthened further. Based on its research, the task force made a series of recommendations, which the CAA board adopted at its February 2011 meeting.

The task force’s recommendations focused on three primary areas: identifying conflict of interest, establishing transition protocols, and enhancing training for editors. The group also instituted a clear protocol for responding to editorial concerns. Revised author packets will further clarify the responsibilities for those writing for CAA’s journals. Fact checking, for example, remains the province of the contributor, although peer reviewers and other editors will raise questions when warranted. The guidelines also established the retention of documents by editors, in consultation with the Publications Committee.

At its May 2011 meeting, the board added a further safeguard to those approved at its previous meeting. CAA now requires all new editors, editorial-board members, and committees members, including the board itself, to certify their adherence to the newly revised Statement on Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality.

The Task Force on Editorial Safeguards, led by then CAA vice president for publications, Anne Collins Goodyear of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, comprised the following: Laura Auricchio, Parsons the New School for Design; Ikem Okoye, University of Delaware; Judith Rodenbeck, Sarah Lawrence College; and Rachel Weiss, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. CAA’s codirectors of publications, Betty Leigh Hutcheson and Joe Hannan, served as ex-officio members. The editors-in-chief and reviews editors of CAA’s three journals provided invaluable assistance to the task force, as did members of the Publications Committee. Alan Gilbert, CAA editor, also provided critical input.