Setting up a postgraduate journal – the admin and the pay-offs / Seán Hewitt
Back in the summer of 2015, I had a sudden realisation that there was no postgraduate journal for my subject area (Irish Studies). Now, although there were ones for history, languages, politics and literature (the four main components of the Irish Studies department), multidisciplinary journals seemed few and far between. Myself and the PGRs at the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool decided to do something about it.
Postgraduate journals usually exist online (there’s little need to run a print copy when the journal isn’t funded and doesn’t have a subscriber base), and they are usually run by a group of postgraduates (with supervision from above). The whole process for us was a constant testing-of-the-waters: negotiating affiliation with the university, writing up a call for papers, choosing an editorial style, editing and setting the pages, finding software… All the admin seemed to build up as we went, and I spent hours sifting through drafts for lost footnotes, finding pdf software which allowed page numbers to be altered, making sure all the articles had the same referencing style… It wasn’t ‘fun’, but it was one of those slightly brainless tasks you can do whilst simultaneously watching endless re-runs of Parks and Rec, so I didn’t much mind.
As I’ve gone through the last year, I’ve made a list of documents explaining to my future self (and perhaps my inheritor…) the processes we established over the course of making the journal, so hopefully next time will run more smoothly.
On the plus side, our journal (Liverpool Postgraduate Journal of Irish Studies) now features contributors from the UK, Republic of Ireland, the USA, Canada, Brazil and Cyprus, and there has been such warm support from the Institute and various national organisations. We received review copies of the latest books from Four Courts Press, Oxford University Press, Liverpool University Press and Palgrave Macmillan, and the copies are still coming in for our second issue, due 2017.
Some tasks seem smaller than they are, and some become bigger as you go along, but taking things in bitesize pieces and remembering that ‘extra-curricular’ work is still work means that it doesn’t get too much. And it’s always nice to have something to look forward to: the launch, the party, the feedback and emails responding to the journal itself.
And now there’s one more forum in the world for postgraduate work to get the attention it deserves: no acerbic peer-reviewers, just friendly, highly-renowned readers and a team of dedicated fellow postgraduates. Our website is over on https://lpjis.wordpress.com/ . Have a look! If you’re working in any area related to Ireland, think about submitting a blog or an article. If not, why not set up a journal of your own?