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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · July 14, 2016

Summertime Blues: A Retraction.

WMQ 4 min read

by Josh Piker

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that the evidence suggests that potential authors of William and Mary Quarterly articles read my posts and take seriously what I say there.  The bad news is that, because of the good news, what I said in one particular post is no longer accurate.

Last July, I posted “Summertime Blues.”  The piece argued that, if you want to publish in the Quarterly, “timing matters.”  I presented a chart showing our submission numbers on a month-by-month basis for 2010-2013.  “The trend,” I suggested, “is clear.  The peak season for submissions is June to August, after which things drop off gradually until we reach a late fall-to-early spring trough that is broken only by a marked-but-brief rise to summer-like numbers in January.  November and February combined have seen exactly as many submissions as in June alone, and December is almost as slow.”  I went on to note that essays arriving during the less busy months generally go out to readers more quickly, spend less time in my “Needs Decision” file once the reports are in, and all of those good things.  I ended by advising would-be Quarterly authors to “avoid the summertime blues.”

And they took that advice to heart, or at least that’s what the numbers for new submissions suggest.  Consider, for example, the “late fall-to-early spring trough” that I mentioned.  From November 2014 through March 2015—that is, the “trough” before I posted—the journal received thirty-four new submissions.  From November 2015 through March 2016—that is, the “trough” after I posted—the journal received fifty-three new submissions.

The numbers for the summer months are equally striking.  The August before I posted saw eighteen new submissions, but only six arrived in the August following my post.  June 2015 brought ten new submissions; June 2016 brought five.  The last time June’s number was that low?  2006.   And before that?  Never, or at least not since 1980, which is when my spreadsheet for new submissions starts.

And these numbers mean?  Well, in addition to the above-mentioned confirmation that authors-to-be, at least, pay attention to these posts, all of this strongly suggests that now is actually a good time to send articles my way.

In fact, as I write this, my inbox is empty, and the essays that have arrived in the office this month have gone out to readers within a week.  So, if you’ve been sitting on an essay and planning to submit it in the fall because “Summertime Blues” convinced you that “timing matters,” you might want to rethink that strategy.

It turns out that timing ceases to matter once I announce that it matters.


HAhaha! But it must be a relief to know that people actually read & act on what you say here. It's sadly unusual in the academic workplace for people to read the memos and change their behavior.
Historiann  •  July 15, 2016
Josh, a little northern hemisphere bias there. In the southern hemisphere, the summer months are November through March. For someone living in Australia, what I see from your data is a summertime boost. Not everyone is in summer in July - despite the messages I get from people "up north" all the time asking me to "enjoy my summer" when the weather here is freezing.
Trevor Graeme Burnard  •  July 14, 2016

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