Academy sees Society with no divisions

May 13, 2005

Society , a new journal to be launched next year by the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, will aim to publish papers that cut across social sciences boundaries.

Some academics argue that multidisciplinary publications rarely flourish in a crowded publishing environment, but Miriam David, the journal's co-editor and acting chair of the academy, is undeterred.

She said: "What we're trying to do is over and above the individual journals within the social sciences. It's an attempt to develop an interdisciplinary focus and to promote the use of the social sciences in other areas," she said.

Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at Warwick University, said: "I wish it luck, but on a planet flooded with journals, it is hard for a new ark to stay afloat."

Each issue of the journal will carry papers focusing on a specific theme, but there will also be submissions on wider topics. It has, for example, commissioned pieces from David Canter, professor of psychology at Liverpool University, on explanations of crime, and from Robert Pinker, formerly emeritus professor of social administration at the London School of Economics, on public policy issues in relation to war.

Professor Oswald pointed out that referees taken from a variety of disciplines may find it difficult to reach a consensus. One route to success was to have a knowledgeable and strong-minded editor willing to overrule referees.

But he added: "That is not a safe strategy, nor does it guarantee any readers. Unfortunately, most journals evolve more and more towards a single discipline."

Alex Haslam, professor of social psychology at Exeter University, said the content of such journals often narrowed over time. "Often journals start out being multidisciplinary and then become popular within one discipline."

As a result, he said, the content becomes skewed to that subject area.

A date for publication of the first issue is yet to be decided.

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