In comparing professional journals in the LIS field, my goal was to select one that appeared to be geared towards a part of the field that I am not especially interested in (though to say that I am not interested at all would be much too strong) as well as one that appeared to address exactly the field that I am more interested in. “The Journal of Academic Librarianship” and “Archival Science” fit these two criteria respectively.
The Journal of Academic Librarianship
Intended Audience: The intended audience is, unsurprisingly, academic librarians – in the journal’s own words, the contents are “book reviews on subjects of interest to academic librarians, information on academic library technology issues, research in international librarianship, digests of special reports, and a guide to sources and analysis of library metrics” (W. Arant-Kaspar & W. vanDuinkerken, co-editors in Chief).
Kinds of material: According to the editors, “JAL provides a forum for authors to present research findings and, where applicable, their practical applications and significance; analyze policies, practices, issues, and trends; speculate about the future of academic librarianship; present analytical bibliographic essays and philosophical treatises.” It also offers “book reviews on subjects of interest to academic librarians, information on academic library technology issues, research in international librarianship, digests of special reports, and a guide to sources and analysis of library metrics” (W. Arant-Kaspar & W. vanDuinkerken, co-editors in Chief). Some of the examples from the latest issue include “Building a Program that Cultivates Leaders from Within the Organization,” “Factors Predicting the Importance of Libraries and Research Activities for Undergraduates,” and a book review for Maura Seale’s “Build a Great Team: One Year to Success” (Volume 39, Issue 6, November 2013).
Peer-reviewed?: The journal is refereed, according to Ulrich’s Directory.
Interesting characteristics: It is a bi-monthly journal. Its contributions are international, as is its readership. It has been going since 1975 (Ulrich’s Global Series Directory).
Intended Audience: Stacie Williams, a reviewer on Ulrich’s Global Series Directory, says that the journal is aimed at “archives students and educators” and is “useful to readers pondering cultural self-determination, and… questions about the legitimacy of records and history” (2013).
Kinds of material: Thematic academic articles based on specific case studies and research from around the world, all relating to archives and cultural heritage (Williams, 2013).
Peer-reviewed?: Yes, according to Ulrich’s Directory.
Interesting characteristics: It puts out four issues a year, most of which follow some sort of general theme. Their latest issue, for example, relates to the societal impact of archives – one article is entitled “Archivist as activist: lessons from three queer community archives in California” while another is called “Social Justice Impact of Archives: a Preliminary Investigation” (Volume 13, Issue 4, December 2013).
Comparing The Two…
Probably the most important similarity between these two journals is that they are both peer reviewed, which effectively means that the research methods employed in all of the new research articles have been vetted by the professional community and are trustworthy – meaning that in all likelihood students and professionals alike can adapt their lessons and take something valuable away from them. To put it more simply, they both have a reasonable likelihood of being valid and useful tools for people in the information science field.
The most significant difference between the two is probably their scope – as much The Journal of Academic Librarianship is targeted specifically at academic librarians and students intending to pursue that field, a lot of the articles can be more broadly applied to the entirety of the library and archiving field. One of their most recent articles, “Do Library Fines Work?: Analysis of the Effectiveness of Fines on Patron’s Return Behavior at Two Mid-sized Academic Libraries” by Jan S. Sung and Bradley P. Tolppanen, for example, would probably apply just as well to any other lending institution. So in that sense the JAL has a more general applicability for a bigger audience and is probably more broadly useful. By contrast, Archives Science really is just for archivists and archival students – which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but which will keep it from ever being as prominent a source for the information field at large.
In terms of what these similarities and differences say of the field as whole, that’s pretty clear. The fact that both journals are refereed suggests the high level of professionalism and academic standards of the field. Furthermore, the existence of both extremely broadly applicable journals and very tightly focused ones speaks to the significant number of similarities that tie all library professionals together as well as to the high degree of specialization that can be found within the field.
Arant-Kaspar, W., vanDuinkerken, W. (Ed.s). (November, 2013). The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (6).
Jackson, A. (2013). [Review of the Journal The Journal of Academic Librarianship, edited by W. Arant-Kaspar & W. vanDuinkerken]. Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory.
Ketelaar, E., Yakel, E., Andeson, K. (Ed.s). (December, 2013). Archival Science 13 (4).
Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory. Archival Science. Retrieved from http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/title/1386215353995/275476
Ulrich’s Web Global Series Directory. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. Retrieved from http://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com.proxy.lib.wayne.edu/title/1386216064935/65638
Williams, S. (2013). [Review of the Journal Archival Science, edited by E. Ketelaar, E. Yakel, & K. Anderson]. Ulrich’s Web Global Serials Directory.