We asked our readers what they valued about the Journal of Digital Humanities. Below we share some of the feedback from our readers as well as statistics about the journal’s reach and readership.
What We Publish
The Journal of Digital Humanities (JDH) is an open, online-only quarterly publication that features digital humanities materials from the open web. JDH is run by a team of 4 editors from the PressForward project at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media who collaborate to select the content for publication and to move that content through to production.
Each quarterly issue of the journal features reproduced or revised versions of the best of the material published online during the previous quarter. Some of the journal’s contents are reproductions of previously released work, thereby providing a formal publication venue and long-term home for independently produced work. We also invite revised and expanded versions of promising work released serially or in early stages. Finally, we solicit new work, particularly reviews of tools and exhibits not covered by other publications.
We rely heavily on the Editor’s Choice selections from Digital Humanities Now as the initial filtering mechanism. In addition, the digital humanities community often identifies and recommends topics and pieces that are ready for formal publication.
Material is selected, solicited, and moved to publication within a three month window, so that the material published is never more than 6 months older than its first publication date. This is a significant reduction of the 1 – 2 year “time to publication” window that authors can expect from traditional journals.
About Our Readers
JDH readers come from a variety of humanities subject and professional backgrounds. Most of our survey respondents conduct independent research and collaborate on digital humanities projects, many direct digital humanities projects, and there was a good showing of librarians, teachers of digital humanities, and people beginning to learn about the field.
JDH reaches a large audience, particularly for a new journal in an emerging field. Overall, about 7,000 unique visitors come to see newly released issues. In the months between issues, we still receive an average of 4,000 unique visitors. For comparison, the Journal of American History has a print circulation of 9,000 members and libraries.
Most of our respondents said they read the journal online, which also is reflected in our smaller, but still respectable numbers for downloads in the month of April: just over 400 for issue 2.1; about 200 downloads for earlier issues.
What They Want
First and foremost, our readers want high quality work; 85% percent of our respondents labeled as “very important” to the success of the journal. The survey results also indicate that, by and large, our readers appreciate the distinctive aspects of our publication: the frequency, thematic coherence, and topical variety.
One aspect our readers found less important was the six month window from initial blog post to JDH publication. While 73% of readers found the frequency of publication “very” or “somewhat” important, only 45% of readers found the 6 month time to publication to be “very” or “somewhat” important. Readers also had mixed reviews about thematic coherence within issues versus the variety of subject matter.
We found the qualitative results of the survey to be very useful in thinking through which aspects of JDH are most central to its success. We definitely will take this feedback into consideration as we plan future issues – thanks to our readers for their help!