Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 December 2010
He put his hand into the well-known nook under the pillow: only, it did not get so far. What he touched was, according to his account, a mouth, with teeth, and with hair about it, and, he declares, not the mouth of a human being.…“Gayton, I believe that alchemist man knows it was I who got his paper rejected.”M. R. James, “Casting the Runes”
Journals are the medium most frequently used by academic authors to disseminate the results of their research. In some fields, particularly in the natural and physical sciences, book writing is rare. A biochemist may publish hundreds of journal articles and never think of writing a book. Journals are also the least professionalized of the publishing media. In the humanities and social sciences, journals are often edited on the side by academics with regular teaching and research assignments and without professional staff. (This is far less common in the physical and natural sciences.) The advent of personal computers, desktop publishing, and electronic publishing has led to the creation of numerous small, specialized journals run out of faculty offices. Electronic journals that are “printed” only after they reach subscribers' computers are becoming plentiful; these are even easier to start and cheaper to distribute.
The growth of specialized journals since the 1960s has expanded opportunities for publication. At the same time, the end of the academic hiring boom of that decade and the stabilization of the size of the academic community have decreased the number of submissions received by many journals.