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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Changing of the guard
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Educational Administration, Volume 50, Issue 2
It’s an exciting time to be part of the global educational leadership community, a community that is increasingly international, focused on empirical investigation, and open to diverse conceptions of leadership and organization. Both the rate and scope of research in our field have accelerated over the last decade, with interest centered ever more firmly around schools as places intentionally designed to improve the lives of students and societies. We find scholarship throughout the world driven by constant demands for change, as well as a search for deeper understanding of the purposes, practices, and effects of leadership and management in schools. The sophistication of scholarship has grown in line with the use of more diverse theoretical perspectives, as well as the availability of more refined methods of quantitative and qualitative investigation.
Within this context, we are honored to take a turn as editors of the Journal of Educational Administration, the longest established international refereed journal in the field. Founded in 1961 by Professor Bill Walker in Australia, the JEA has contributed to the development of our field by consistently pushing the boundaries of theory and empirical research. Recognizing the rich intellectual lineage of the Journal, we cherish this opportunity to foster the continued growth of scholarship in educational leadership and management while, at the same time, shaping its impact on policy and practice.
Our task as editors is both more and less onerous as a result of the dedication of the JEA’s long-time editor, Professor A. Ross Thomas. It will be our foremost challenge to maintain the quality standard that Ross modeled at the Journal for over 30 years. At the same time, Ross has made our job easier through development of the JEA’s international networks, work processes, and global reputation. Indeed, our precondition of accepting the editorship at this time was that Ross would agree to continue as our mentor after we assumed this role. It has not gone unnoticed that it is taking two of us to fill Ross’ shoes as the editor. In recognition of Ross’s contribution to the Journal, the Editorial Board and our publisher, Emerald, have supported the renaming of the annual award for the best paper in JEA in his name. Establishment of the A. Ross Thomas Outstanding Paper Award is a meaningful symbol of the long-term impact Ross has had as editor, not only on development of the Journal but on the field of educational leadership and management.
As scholars whose personal contributions to JEA date back 25 years ourselves, we wish to add our personal appreciation of Ross’ past efforts. He was receptive and supportive of our own early work as young scholars and treated us with respect while ensuring that only our best work would appear in the Journal.
As editors, we view this “changing of the guard” at JEA as an opportunity to build on the Journal’s strengths during an era when the role of journals has both taken on enhanced importance and come under greater scrutiny. The community of scholars who now target publication in “international refereed English language journals” is growing exponentially, driven in no small part by the rapid growth of higher education in Asia. An HSBC advertisement makes the point that there are five times as many people studying English today in China than live in the UK. There is similarly high growth in the number of scholars working, not only in China, but throughout Asia Pacific. Moreover, higher education systems in the region are increasingly mandating that university faculty publish in international refereed journals. This represents not only an opportunity for JEA to welcome greater diversity into our field, but also a challenge to enhance scholarly capacity and maintain the Journal’s high quality standards. Our vision for JEA reflects this changing global publication landscape:
To be the premier international journal in educational leadership and management as evidenced by being recognized as the first choice as an outlet for publication and reference, and for scholarship that is timely, international in scope, high in quality and relevant to practice.
With the support of the Editorial Board and Emerald, publisher of JEA, we are in the process of initiating strategies to achieve this vision. We introduce some of these below.
Maintain JEA’s international focus while strengthening our presence in Asia Pacific
While today the descriptor “international journal” is taken for granted, we hasten to remind our readers that this has not always been the case. As reported in a recent paper (Hallinger, 2011), as recently as 20 years ago, the inclusion of articles from outside of a limited set of Western cultural contexts bordered on being a “rare event”. With its roots in Asia Pacific, JEA has always been and will continue to be defined by the cultural diversity of its authors and the global scope of its content.
We believe that the JEA has, from its earliest days, been a model of a truly international journal. While reaffirming the traditional international positioning of JEA, during the period of our editorial purview, we will seek to build on the Journal’s Asia Pacific roots. This will involve deepening existing relationships with the region’s scholars and enhancing awareness of the Journal among emerging scholars. We believe this will forge a new and urgently needed niche for quality scholarship focused on understanding educational leadership and management in a more diverse set of socio-cultural settings. If successful, this would result in a moderate increase in the percentage of manuscripts from the region even as we maintain a high quality standard and broad global coverage.
Enhance the capacity and international composition of the Editorial Board
The Editorial Board is, along with contributors, the “face” of the Journal to the public. Indeed, the composition of the Board is an important element considered by the agencies that rank journals around the world. Moreover, recent developments in research methods have made it essential to have both broad and deep expertise on the Board in order to ensure high quality reviews of manuscripts. It is with these factors in mind that we have increased the size and international breadth of the Editorial Board.
In recognition of their past and continuing contributions, all members of the existing Editorial Board have been invited to stay with the Journal for the next several years. The new composition continues to reflect the broad international vision of the Journal, while at the same time, strengthening membership from Asia Pacific as well as several other under-represented areas. The somewhat larger and more diverse membership will reduce the load of review requests for each Board member and enrich the scope of expertise available to the editors. We’re looking forward to working closely with the reconfigured Editorial Board.
More actively source ground-breaking manuscripts
As suggested above, we recognize that in a highly competitive “journal market place” authors make choices about where to submit the results of their research. In order to increase the number of high quality submissions and help steer the field forward, the editors and Editorial Board members will encourage authors of high impact conference papers, research reports, and policy analyses to submit their work to JEA. In this way, we hope that the Journal will become the first-choice outlet for the best work of our contributing authors.
Also consistent with our vision, we are initiating a new Legacy Series of invited peer-reviewed papers solicited periodically from eminent scholars throughout the world. The Legacy Series was inspired, in part by Ross Thomas’ recent 50-year retrospective issue of JEA. This issue highlighted the need to capture and codify trends in the field as they evolve over time. Thus, we wish to offer selected scholars the opportunity to illuminate the intellectual lineage as it has evolved in educational leadership and management across generations of scholars. We believe that providing connective tissue within and across the lines of inquiry that comprise a knowledge domain over time should be a key role played by Journals.
Legacy papers will provide these thought leaders with an opportunity to reflect on progress in their particular lines of intellectual inquiry, connect these to broader trends in education and the environment, and identify key challenges for the future. Legacy papers may take the form of essays, literature reviews, or reflective commentaries. During our editorial tenure, we hope to feature two or three Legacy papers in each volume of the Journal. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that Professor Larry Cuban, Emeritus Professor at Stanford University, has agreed to write the launch piece for the Legacy series.
We wish to highlight two notable caveats that underlie this strategy of more actively sourcing papers. First, the Journal will continue to depend primarily on open, unsolicited submission of manuscripts through the Manuscript Central system by scholars from any nation or level of experience. This channel will continue to reflect the formal policy and comprise the life-blood of the Journal’s output. Indeed, we are proud of the fact that many established scholars published important early papers in JEA. The steps indicated above represent minor but potentially important means of ensuring that the Journal maximizes its relevance in a changing publication environment.
Second, we wish to reemphasize that all papers submitted to JEA, regardless of the author, will undergo the same rigorous blind, peer review process. This includes manuscripts from authors who have been encouraged to submit conference papers to the Journal, as well as the Legacy papers. Thus, these strategies do not in any way represent short cuts to publication; on the contrary, we hope that they will result in even higher quality content in the Journal in the future. Of course, readers will judge the results as subsequent volumes unfold over the next several years.
Strategically target the development of special theme issues
JEA has a history of producing ground-breaking special theme issues on emerging topics or at the point of a paradigm shift in the field. We will continue the practice initiated by Ross Thomas of dedicating two issues per year to thematic collections of papers organized by guest editors. We will continue to solicit proposals for theme issues broadly and transparently. At the same time, however, we will also be on the lookout for imaginatively conceived conference symposia that stand at the nexus of change in a particular line of inquiry.
In a minor variation on this approach, we will encourage “mini-special issues” – groups of related papers – into standard issues. Our aim here is to allow clusters of papers in focused areas to be published without the pressure to collect six to eight papers for a full special issue. We believe this initiative will allow the Journal to help push scholarship forward in key areas of research in a more timely manner.
1.5 Maintain and enhance operational efficiency
JEA has always been run effectively and efficiently, often against considerable odds. We intend to maintain and streamline the submission, review and feedback process to make it more user-friendly for authors, without sacrificing rigor. With this in mind, the editors have formed an in-house team comprised of colleagues from the Asia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. The team consists of senior and junior colleagues representing diverse cultural backgrounds (e.g. Australia, USA, China, Korea, India, Canada) as well as methodological expertise and substantive foci. The team, under the operational leadership of our Managing Editor, Dr Darren Bryant, will assist in reducing the inevitable bottlenecks that can occur when too many tasks fall to the editor(s). We fully realize the importance of timeliness in both review and publication. Our team is committed to doing all that we can to ensure a submission process that is welcoming as well as ethical, efficient, and rigorous.
In closing, we understand that journal publication is a two-way street. As much as scholars need to publish their work in journals, journals also “compete” for the best scholarship available in a given field. In today’s academic environment, scholars have a range of choices of where to publish their best work. We hope our readers will consider adding their voices through submission of their “best work” to the Journal of Educational Administration. We hope to have your support in achieving our vision for the Journal, and look forward to interacting with you over the next three years.
Allan Walker, Philip HallingerAsia Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change, Hong Kong Institute of Education
Hallinger, P. (2011), “Developing a knowledge base for educational leadership and management in East Asia”, School Leadership and Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 305–20