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The Electronic Journal of Sociology: Seven Years of Electronic Publishing

The Electronic Journal of Sociology (EJS) was founded by Mike Sosteric in Canada in 1994 at the University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada. At the time, there was little departmental support for the first peer reviewed electronic journal in sociology on the Internet. However, patience and perseverance led to the journal being published at Athabasca University. Today it receives free production assistance and expertise from the International Consortium for Alternative Academic Publication (ICAAP) and found its permanent home at http://www.sociology.org/.

Despite being a wholly electronic publication, the EJS, as a scholarly outlet, shares many of the same characteristics as its more staid, paper counterparts. The anonymous peer review process, acceptance rate (16%), and turnaround time is quite similar to other established peer reviewed print journals of high scholarly quality. Mean turnaround time to receive notification about the manuscript’s status (deflect, reject, revise and resubmit, accepted) is less than 12 weeks. As a general journal with a wide range of topics for submissions, the turnaround time might fluctuate more than for specialized journals.

Although the EJS shares many of the characteristics important for traditional scholarly publication, there are some differences that distinguish it from print journals. For example, the time from acceptance to publication is very short. The time between the acceptance of the manuscript to publication is on the average only four weeks. In addition, the publication media allows innovative hypertextual or multimedia/hypermedia features and welcomes color graphics and tables of any size.

Independent electronic publication makes it easier for us to publish on demand. Depending on the quality and the number of submissions we publish two to four issues a year. While uncommonly long publications would be easier to accommodate than in printed journals, the length of the articles published in EJS is not untypical for printed journals.

The EJS is indexed by Sociological Abstracts. However, compared to the limited traditional academic indexing systems of printed scholarly material, EJS is linked from at least 1,843 other web based sources. Free distribution, the freedom with which information flows on the Internet (when unencumbered by tariff or commercial barriers), and the extensive references to EJS contribute to its ongoing popularity. The EJS currently receives more than one million accesses a year. Obviously, putting this number in context and comparing it with the circulation rate of printed journals is not a straightforward process. For an interpretation we post Web Server Statistics for EJS at http://klaatu. pc.athabascau.ca/report/ejs.html#Month. Another indicator for an extremely high circulation rate are the encouraging messages of other editors of sociological journals, using the same electronic publisher, that EJS receives about 100 times more accesses than their journals.

While the lion share of accesses (70%) come from the Unites States, there is significant international readership. The top ten list in descending order (excluding the USA) includes Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, Russia, Israel, and Japan. The remaining accesses are distributed among 81 individual nations! In order to maintain equal access for academics of nations providing very different financial support, the editor recently opted against the imposition of fees. Clearly, free Internet distribution without the barriers imposed by different currencies allows a truly global diffusion of academic knowledge that is virtually impossible to attain by print journals of our day.

Journals come and go; some are here to stay. Commitment of readers, authors, and reviewers are an important determinant for the survival of a journal. The academic voice, not the promotion of professional publishers made EJS more alive than ever.

Andreas Schneider, Editor of EJS, Texas Tech University; Mike Sosteric, Founder of EJS, Executive Director of ICAAP, Athabasca University