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Education professors to edit premier literacy journal

by Janice Palmer - October 9, 2006

The Journal of Literacy Research, a premier peer-reviewed research journal for more than 40 years, has selected a Neag School of Education team to serve as its editorial board for the next three years.

This is the first time the journal's editorial team has been spearheaded by a large faculty group from one institution.

Published quarterly, the Journal of Literacy Research is the official journal of the National Reading Conference, the largest professional organization devoted solely to literacy and reading research.

Six Neag faculty members from two departments formed a team to compete for the editorship.

From the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are professors Douglas Hartman, Mary Anne Doyle, Douglas Kaufman, and Wendy Glenn.

From the Department of Educational Psychology are professors Sally Reis and Michael Coyne.

Former faculty member Mileidis Gort, who recently relocated to the University of Miami, remains on the editorial team.

The team members bring a strong set of research and editorial experience to the journal: all have served on the editorial review boards of major research journals - 35 journals in all - and collectively, they have been awarded $7.6 million in major research grants during the past two years.

"We're extremely proud that this Neag group has been selected to lead this prestigious journal during a transformation that is sure to better serve the literacy research community, as well as the field of education as a whole," says Richard Schwab, dean of the Neag School.

"We competed with top universities for this editorship."

When Schwab and his administrative council mapped out the School's strategic plan about six years ago, its top priorities included the establishment of a diverse team of reading and literacy experts.

The Neag team sought the journal with the goal of maintaining the periodical's reputation for high standards of scholarly rigor and professionalism, while improving and expanding access to the journal.

Planned changes include moving the journal to a fully web-based submission and review process. Article abstracts will be made available in four languages: Chinese, English, French, and Spanish.

Book reviews will be included in every issue.

Another significant change is reflected in how the editorial duties have been organized.

"The breadth of our team enables us to take the unusual step of making each one of us an area editor responsible for overseeing the review of manuscripts for which each of us has individual topical and methodological expertise," says Hartman, who serves as a senior editor as well as an area editor.

His areas of expertise include the new literacies of the Internet, the history of reading, adolescent literacy, and sociocultural aspects of literacy.

The group plans to ensure that some of the new challenges and emerging areas in reading and literacy research appear in the journal's pages.

"By and large this journal has not addressed the gifted and talented learners, bilingual issues, or the new literacies of the Internet," says Doyle, a professor of reading and language arts.

Her expertise includes early literacy development, early interventions, and diagnostic assessment.

Kaufman, an expert in the writing process, adds, "Given the diversity of our editorial team, our professional activities and contacts, we hope to recruit manuscripts from a wider range of disciplines."

In order to provide a forum for focused discussion, several themed issues are planned. Among the topics under consideration are diversity, accessibility, and professionalism.

"Our hope," says Glenn, a top scholar on literature for young people, "is to spark discussions that have a profound effect on policy and practice."

In addition to providing a graduate assistant and part-time administrative assistant, the School is covering the costs for translating the abstracts into three other languages to increase global access and circulation.

To ease the time demands, each team member will be released from teaching one course each year.

"We're fortunate to have the Dean's support in this endeavor, because it made our proposal even more attractive to the NRC's journal selection committee," says Coyne, who is balancing a teaching load with several funded research projects focused on vocabulary and interventions for young, at-risk children.

The team's first issue will be published early next year.

Additional information about the Journal of Literacy Research is online.

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