Archive for February, 2011

February 1, 2011

Open Access Journals

Continuing with the theme of interesting online items…

One of the ways in which genealogists learn their craft is by studying the work of others. There are many publications available to assist with this goal, including a number of reputable journals (see Recommended Books). While many genealogical journals are now available online to subscribers or through databases such as those maintained by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, their main method of distribution remains the printed medium (i.e. on paper). There are, however, two genealogical journals now published exclusively online. Both are open access, meaning there are no subscription fees to enjoy the content.

The first is Annals of Genealogical Research, edited by Robert S. Shaw. This journal is not peer reviewed, but it does serve as a place where serious research can be published. For instance, Dawn C. Stricklin’s recent article Reconstructed African-American Cemeteries: Colored Masonic Cemetery, Farmington, St. Francis Co., MO is as much a teaching article (how to reconstruct burials in a cemetery with unmarked graves) as it is a contribution to the fields of genealogy, history, and anthropology. Unfortunately, Annals is not published on a regular basis, possibly because of a lack of submissions, but possibly also because of a lack of awareness within the genealogical community about its existence. Setting up an editorial board and implementing a peer review system would probably go a long way towards pushing this much-needed outlet to the forefront in the minds of genealogical authors.

The Journal of Genetic Genealogy is peer reviewed, and is edited by Blaine T. Bettinger, better known as the Genetic Genealogist. This journal has been published nearly every spring and fall since 2005. As the title implies, the focus is on the application of genetics to the field of genealogy. The result is a fascinating body of multidisciplinary work. Recent issues include “Where Have all the Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke” by Roberta Estes (Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2009) and “On the Propagation of Mitochondrial Mutations” by Ian Long (Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2009), as well as Special Sections dealing particularly with Y-DNA Projects and Cluster Analysis. This journal is a must-read for anyone interested in genetic genealogy and related academic disciplines.

Serious scholarship includes the study of the literature of one’s field. Genealogy is no exception. The advent of open access journals such as the two named can only serve to assist in this endeavour.