Q&A with City & Community editor, Deirdre Oakley

New CUSS Newsletter Assistant Editor, Kyle Galindez, University  of California, Santa Cruz, interviewed Deirdre Oakley about her new role as City & Community editor.

What motivated you to pursue the C&C editorship?

Not many people know this, but I started my career in magazine publishing right out of college – moving to New York City from Brunswick, Maine.  I worked for Vanity Fair and Fortune before I went to graduate school. While academic peer-review journals clearly have different audiences and expectations, as well as typically non-glossy and four-color (except for Contexts), I’ve always been interested in eventually becoming an editor in the academic world.

City & Community is also near and dear to my heart because the journal was launched while I was in graduate school and the first article coming from my dissertation was published in C&C. I have been a loyal reader and reviewer since its inception. When the call went out for a new editor in 2017 I thought about applying, was on the fence for a while because it’s an enormous responsibility to take on, and I was in the middle of writing a NSF grant (ultimately not funded). I finally decided that it’s now or never. My rationale: I’m a full professor so I don’t have to worry about promotion (because trust me, being editor has slowed down my productivity significantly); it would be a great opportunity for some of my grad and undergraduate students; and an opportunity to make a different kind of contribution to my field.  In short, my inner-self concluded I should go for it (and so did my husband).

Can you describe your vision for C&C?

I think the fundamentals of my vision are consistent with the past editors. This includes publishing high quality and ground-breaking urban and community research, moving up the journal rankings, increasing our international audience and submissions etc. I hope to further contribute to these goals by increasing the online presence of the journal through the development of a parallel website called Digital Cities and Communities, diversifying and expanding the editorial board, and organizing the journal issue content in a loosely thematic form. One of the challenges (and good news), however, it that submissions have increased significantly over the past three years. Therefore, I have requested a permanent increase in the print page limit per issue. Wiley-Blackwell no longer charges for print pages, but a permanent increase must to be approved by the ASA Publication Committee (this is in process).

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the issues have become quite a bit larger. We have a queue of accepted articles awaiting publication. The challenge is that we do not want authors having a long wait time to see their accepted article in print, but we only have four issues per year. Our online publishing schedule is that only a selection of upcoming print articles can be released which have not been assigned to a print issue. Once the print issue gets through production, all the articles for this issue are published online first. So, expect half-inch thick issues for the near future. The permanent print page increase number once approved is not so large.

What editorial changes have you made and are there others you plan to make?

The first change I made, with the approval of CUSS leadership (per the Section By-Laws), was to diversify and expand the editorial board, which now includes (for the first time) a scholar from a Historical Black College or University (Dr. Barbara Combs from Clark Atlanta). But this diversification and expansion was not only about race, ethnicity and gender, but also about the institutions represented by the board members. I have attempted to obtain a better balance between state and private universities, as well as maintain the inclusion of scholars from liberal arts colleges.

The second change I have made was to the cover design. The cover had remained the same since the journal’s inception, so I felt strongly that it was time for a new look. I’m certainly not criticizing the current cover, but a new cover will hopefully bring additional attention to City & Community. I am happy to report that the new cover has been approved by CUSS leadership and the ASA Executive Office. It will premiere with the March 2019 issue (not sneak peaks!). I do hope everybody likes it.

The third change I have made was to include past editors on the journal Masthead. I thought it was important to continue to acknowledge all the important work the editors before me have done to bring the journal to the stature is has today. I’ll note here that our impact factor is 1.087 for 2017. This is the highest it has ever been. Our rankings in Sociology and Urban Studies have also moved up. This is all because of the editors before me.

The fourth change I have made is to include more graduate and undergraduate students on the onsite editorial team at Georgia State University. Some of these positions are being funded through GSU. I’m looking for alternative sources to sustain this because it’s such a great learning experience for both grad and undergraduate students. One of the highlights of becoming the editor of City & Community for me has been working with these amazing students who are crucial in keeping the journal running smoothly. I’d like to acknowledge the on-site editorial team by name: Zuri Murphy, Managing Editor and a Ph.D student in Sociology; Clinton Boyd, Jr. and Sam Howat, Graduate Editorial Fellows and Ph.D. students in Sociology; Breanna Harris, Daniel Noukui and Chris Verghese Thomson, Undergraduate Editorial Assistants. Breanna and Daniel are graduating in December and want to pursue jobs in journalism. We wish them luck and will miss them!

There will be a few more relatively minor changes in terms of internal page layout and the organization of articles for each issue but nothing radical. One thing we are doing is updating the author guidelines on the Wiley C&C page for better clarity. This should be in place by the end of 2018.

What kinds of article submissions are you hoping to attract for C&C?

City & Community has always received and published great articles on a wide variety of urban and community issues. There has also been a nice balance in terms of the methodologies utilized and theoretical frameworks. This continues – albeit, at much higher submission rate. We are working on attracting more articles on the international front. This has certainly increased over the past seven years, but the journal is lesser known in international urban scholarly circles. This goal is certainly not going to usurp the great articles being submitted on the U.S. front. Therefore, I do not want anyone to worry about C&C emphasizing international substance over U.S. substance.

What can section members look forward to in the upcoming year?

Large issues for the near future with ground-breaking articles, interesting upfront content symposiums, reviews of great books, the new cover, and hopefully a joint issue with another important journal (still in the approval stage at this point so I cannot say more!). Also we will launch our Digital Cities and Communities website.


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