Journal Review


D-Lib Magazine
April 2003

Volume 9 Number 4

ISSN 1082-9873

Enhancing the Marketplace of Archival Ideas

Review of two journals - Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information and the Journal of Archival Organization

Reviewed by Elizabeth Yakel, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, School of Information

Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information
Published by Kluwer Academic Publishers
ISSN 1389-0166, (2001 - )

Journal of Archival Organization
Published by Haworth Press
ISSN: 1533-2748, (2002 - )


Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information and the Journal of Archival Organization are the first two new peer-reviewed archival journals to have emerged in the past several years. These journals are welcome developments that will hopefully make the "marketplace of archival ideas" more lively and vibrant. Even better, the two journals have distinctly different characters and very diverse approaches to archivy.

Interestingly, commercial publishers issue both of these journals. This departs from the typical model in the archival field where professional associations publish the archival journals.

Archival Science is published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, which is based in The Netherlands. Kluwer specializes in information products for and services to researchers in both academia and corporations in such fields as: the "humanities & social sciences, environmental & plant sciences, physical sciences, behavioral sciences, engineering & computer sciences and biosciences" [1]. Kluwer initially entered the archival arena by publishing Archives and Museum Informatics, which Archival Science now incorporates. Although the current editors, Peter Horsman, Eric Ketelaar, and Theo Thomassen, all hail from The Netherlands, the editorial board consists of internationally known experts who specialize in a variety of archival areas. This partially supports the claim that "this journal is the only independent, international, peer-reviewed journal on archival science, covering all aspects of theory, methodology and practice, with appropriate attention to the non-anglophone world" [2].

Haworth Press, publisher of the Journal of Archival Organization, began in 1978 by publishing journals in the area of library and information science. Since that time, Haworth has continued to "identify 'niche' areas in such major disciplines as library science, social work, gerontology, marketing, gay/lesbian studies, and at least 25 additional subject fields" [3]. The Journal of Archival Organization is an outgrowth of Haworth's core interest in library and information science. Ruth Carter and Thomas Frusciano are the editors, and an editorial board featuring archivists from around the world supports them.

It is in the stated purposes and goals that the two journals begin to differentiate. The aims and scope of Archival Science are defined as "promoting the development of archival science as an autonomous scientific discipline, targeting primarily on researchers and educators in archival science, and secondarily on everyone else who is professionally interested in recorded information. The scope of the journal is the whole field of recorded process-related information, analysed in terms of form, structure and context" [4]. The Journal of Archival Organization describes itself as "an international journal encompassing all aspects of the arrangement, description, and provision of access to all forms of archival materials...The journal places emphasis on emerging technologies, applications, and standards that range from Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and methods of organizing archival collections for access on the World Wide Web to issues connected with the digitization and display of archival materials" [5].

While I am wary of raising the theory / practice dichotomy, these descriptions imply that Archival Science is more theoretical and Journal of Archival Organization is more practically oriented. This is only partially born out in the initial issues of each journal. Archival Science has published two full volumes (8 issues). The initial volume (first 4 issues) focused on introducing and defining "archival science" as a discipline and featured the proceedings from an archival metadata workshop held in The Netherlands. Archival Science's second volume was entirely guest edited by Terry Cook and Joan Schwartz who put together a series of thought provoking articles on "archives, records, and power." The Journal of Archival Organization has only published one issue so the direction and scope of this journal are more difficult to determine. However, the initial issue contained a mix of more theoretical, research, and practical articles, such as James L. Gehrlich's "The Archival Imagination of David Bearman, Revisited," Jennifer A. Marshall's survey research, "The Impact of EAD Adoption on Archival Programs: A Pilot Survey of Early Implementers," and William E. Landis' "Nuts and Bolts: Implementing Descriptive Standards to Enable Virtual Collections." Its second issue promises to focus on "The Importance of Outreach and Documentation in the Archival Enterprise" [6] and will feature a series of case studies. In light of these descriptions, it is obvious that both journals contain a mix of theory and practice as well as a variety of perspectives on archival issues, functions, and practice.

The Journal of Archival Organization and Archival Science are both published quarterly, and each is available both in analog and digital formats. One can view sample issues of each journal online prior to making a decision about subscribing [7]. The subscription rate for individuals in the United States is $45.00 for the Journal of Archival Organization and $60.00 for Archival Science. Kluwer also makes available Archival Science articles on a pay-per-view basis for non-subscribers.

If these journals continue, the marketplace of archival ideas will definitely be better for it. Still, economic survival of the journals is an issue to contemplate. While Archival Science characterizes its organizational structure outside of a professional archival organization as "independence," I interpret this as editorial and political independence. It is certainly not independent from the vagaries of commercial publishing economics, which I assume is why Kluwer is publishing one archival journal incorporating Archival Science and Archives and Museum Informatics rather than two separate archival journals. One can only hope that by combining the two journals and not splitting the market, Kluwer can create a large enough subscription base to sustain the journal.

In addition to the publishers' economic concerns, maintaining an adequate number of articles in the production process may be another challenge. I have to raise the nasty question: "Are there enough archival ideas out there to support these two new journals as well as the already existing journals?" I think that there are, but getting the ideas to press is another story. One wonders whether Archival Science could have sustained itself without the four guest-edited issues. And, although the Journal of Archival Organization is quarterly, there was only one spring issue in 2002 and the spring 2003 issue is not out yet. Is this a result of start-up production problems or a lack of articles? These production matters do indicate that all may not be totally in place for either journal.

More importantly, it would not be good for the archival profession to lose either of these publishing opportunities. Archivists need new ideas and more ideas to react to, to toss around, and even with which to disagree. This type of professional dialog is essential and peer-reviewed journals are a key element in that process.


[1] Kluwer Academic Publishers, <>.

[2] The Archival Science homepage can be found at <>. All quotations concerning this journal are on the Archival Science Web site located at the URL listed above (accessed March 28, 2003).

[3] Haworth Press, <>.

[4] Archival Science, "Aims and Scope," <>.

[5] Haworth Press, Journal of Archival Organization, <>.

[6] Haworth Press, Journal of Archival Organization, "Table of Contents", Volume 1, Number 2, <>.

[7] Archival Science, "Journal Contents," Volume 1, Issue 4, <> and Journal of Archival Organization Volume 1, Number 1 <>.

Copyright © 2003 Elizabeth Yakel

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DOI: 10.1045/