Reviewing History and IR Journals:
Academic Publication Practices and Dominance in World Society
Maarten Duijvendak & Jaap de Wilde
This article reflects on analyses of academic History journals and International Relations
(IR) journals conducted by students in
Modern History & International Relations (University of Groningen) from 2010 till 2015.
Their reports can be found online on the MHIR programmes website. This website al-
lows access to 49 reviews of IR and History journals, covering 43 different journals in
various periods between 2005 and 2014. We made it open access because we hope and
expect the reviews will add to the debate about l-
tures, the general importance of academic journals for career development and for the
identity of our disciplines.
In preparing students for an academic career it is imperative to acquaint them with the
craftsmanship of the job. As for artists, ten percent in academic work is creativity, ninety
percent is sweat. Part of the sweat is finding jobs and research money.
you need research output to stay in, especially when on tenure-track, even though teach-
ing normally takes most of the time. Where to publish and how to publish? In what form
to publish? Books, chapters in edited volumes, and articles in journals or online are the
obvious forms. Occasionally, policy reports, consultancy papers and opinions in news-
papers contribute to the output. But what counts most, if not almost exclusively in most
disciplines are peer reviewed articles, preferably in leading journals. The emphasis on
these publications is common practice in the social sciences and growing in the humani-
ties. Increasingly, scores on citation indexes are used as indicators for academic success
in both clusters of disciplines.
Against this background we asked our students to analyse History journals and IR jour-
nals. Five volumes of each. What are the hottest debates, what are the most important
items the journals publish, what is the scientific and societal relevance? How do edi-
tors guarantee the quality of what they publish? How are journals organized behind
the scenes? Finding out how and by whom the pages are filled, with what types of pro-
cedures, provides insight in dominant practices practices one has to follow, even if one
has the ambition to change them once.
The main conclusion of our work may be frustrating for most students worldwide: His-
tory and IR journals mainly publish articles written by male U.S.-based scholars. As far
as we checked: Caucasian males. Not just in the leading journals, and not just in the U.S.-
based journals, but almost all 43 English language journals we investigated show such
dominance, most of them up to 80%, others at least more than 50%. Also editorial
boards are U.S. dominated, with still low percentage of women almost of 32% (139 out
of 438 members of editorial committees and boards). Apparently the road to academic
success is to look for a job in the USA and to transgender in case you are female (or use
It is generally observed that publication cultures are changing across the fields of social
sciences and the humanities. Not just the media of publication, also the language to pub-
lish changes with the ongoing internationalisation. This internationalisation is more ev-
ident in continental Europe and in large parts of the Global South than in the English-
speaking Anglo-Saxon world. Some may like to call it Americanisation rather than inter-
nationalisation. We hope to bring some nuance to that debate. Nowadays English is con-
sidered to be the lingua franca of the scientific community. However there is huge varie-
ty in practices, and acceptance still. Discussion is going on in France, Spain and Germany
on the role of their respective languages in science and education. China may join their
ranks. In some countries the official policy is aiming at preservation of the standard lan-
guage as a language of science, as in France (Loi Toubon from 1994) and even in a global
trading state as the Netherlands (KNAW 2003). In 2013 the Dutch association of sociol-
ogists took stance against the dominance of English in its report on research quality as-
sessment, for reasons discussed below (NVS 2013).
In between Lingua Franca and Americanisation
In a special edition on scholarly publishing practices around the world, the journal Pro-
gress in Human Geography (2009) remarked here. It-
in countriesand Eastern Europe the monograph is still strong, as is the resistance to the
dominance of English, but in Germany, where the PhD-thesis in general is written in
German, articles published in international journals are more and more respected. This
kind of mixed-language situations exist also in the smaller European countries. Overall,
the conclusion was that in most European countries scientific practices in human geog-
raphy were changing in favour of articles written in English (Paasi, 2009:101). This ap-
pears also to be the case in the social sciences and the humanities in general (Ossenblok,
et al., 2012).
IR, Arlene Tickner and Ole Wæver
(2009: p. 332) conclude that in Western Europe, Israel and Southeast i-
tion in the United States and U.S.- has become the ultimate path to local
scholarly However, although East Central Europe, Brazil and Mexico increasing-
ly sing the same song, Tickner and Wæver (2009: 332) and the 16 case studies they
compare also show that in most corners of world
The reason is obvi-
ous. IR as a discipline is closely related to international relations as a practice. And mir-
ror-wise, a lot of Historical narratives are closely related to the state and the myths
about its national history. The about 193 sovereign governments in world society have
to think about their mutual relations (IR) and they have to position themselves in time
and space (History).
Every state, be it Brunei, Brazil, Belgium or Botswana (to mention just four random sov-
ereignties beginning with B), has international relations, hence a foreign policy. Policy
implies some kind of vision. Vision implies some kind of theory: selection criteria about
what matters for whom, and what is needed to pursue specific goals. Theory implies
some kind of meta-theory or worldview/religion/belief/ontology/a big bang. Normally
it takes time and distance to develop (an awareness of) meta-theory be it St. Augustine
trying to make sense of the plundering of Rome in 410, Thomas Hobbes reflecting on
civil war and chaos in England (1642-1646), Carl von Clausewitz trying to get a grip on
the principles behind Napoleonic warfare or Antonio Gramsci using his imprisonment
by fascist Italy for grasping hegemonic discourse.
Every minister of foreign affairs and the civil servants working for her/him conducts
diplomacy and formulates foreign policies (either in public or within an autocratic elite).
Hence there must be a theory (a selection mode) about what matters and what can be
ignored. Some Historians provide the benchmarks for foreign policy. Where do we come
How does our history define our national iden-
tity? How do we secure, reproduce and strengthen our identity? Other Historians do
research on questions of societal coherence, on topics related to economic growth, or on
local or national governance. Both History and IR as academic practices developed close-
ly in relation to state formation processes, and nation building, which explains the state-
centrism which, according to Tickner & Wæver (2009: 334), l-
arly communities in IR througho These disciplines serve the society they
are participating in, and they are supposed to support the people that pay taxes to main-
tain the scholars. The concept is relatively new,
and within the humanities and social sciences it is related more with public outreach,
than the more strictly commercial valorisation. This con-
nectedness with society
community and its lingua franca, as was stated by the Dutch sociologists recently (NVS
Much of what we read in U.S. dominated journals is about the American setting of this
foreign policy based IRhe-
, echoing Brian Schmidt (1998: 13) similar observation. Steve Smith (2002)
joins the choirU.S. IR explains a narrow range of world political events and does so
But he agrees with scholars like Ole Wæver (1998) that theoriz-
ing the experiences of a hegemonic power obviously receives more scholarly attention
than theorizing the experiences of say Switzerland. s-
subtitles his article. Kees Van der Pijl (2014) moves the argument
This argument is about the setting of a research agenda and it is mirrored in other disci-
plines. It is based on the assumption of communication among scholars on relevant
questions and approaches; on an exchange of views and facts across the scientific com-
munity. -Quijada argued that the majority of scholars in the field of
communication use their native language and not necessarily English. After having ana-
lysed 1,182 articles published in Spanish journals on communication (in 2007, 2008 and
2009), he found that 92% of the articles were written in Spanish, with Catalan as a sec-
ond and English as the third language. In these articles 71% of the citations were to
Spanish sources, and just over 25% were citations to publications in English. His conclu-
sion is that there still exists a pretty strong border between scholars in communication
science in Spain and the international scene (2011: 99-101). Among sociolo-
gists that publish in English the same phenomenon exists as among scholars in IR. Soci-
ologists from the US and UK cited in 99% articles written in English, while those articles
account for approximately 70% of international literature in their field (Archambault
The market structure is well-served by a global lingua franca. It creates an economy of
scales. With a few exceptions (such as Elsevier and Springer) the academic publications
market is dominated by publishing houses in the UK and the U.S. The American scholars
Glenn McGuigan and Robert Russell (2008) describe the unusual business model on
There are three important participants in the indus-
try: (1) faculty scholars who write the journal articles and provide editorial services
and distributing the scholarly content of the journals, and; (3) colleges and universities
They then focus on the
financial strangulation of libraries by the publishers. Publishers developed their com-
mercial interest in academic journals in the 1960s and 1970s, and discovered a highly
profitable market. So far, they have survived and adapted to the shock of online publica-
tions. They now offer (expensive) online packages to the libraries. Even in times of crisis
there is a worldwide guaranteed minimum sales: a substantial number of libraries
around the world buy almost every academic publication written in English. This makes
the demand fairly inelastic, and due to the lingua franca status of English, the market is
Some scholars argue that the U.S. dominance is related to the native language advantage.
This would also explain why the UK comes second. But, as one of our students, Sabine
Dankbaar, the IR and History reviews show that although Canada and Aus-
tralia have the third and fourth largest populations of native English speakers respec-
tively, few articles were written by authors from these countries. Other countries with
large populations of native English speakers are the Philippines, Nigeria, India, East and
Southern Africa. The amount of contributions of these countries to the journals is
(Dankbaar, 2012). That language skills are not
the issue is supported by the U.S. dominance in other fields of science than IR and Histo-
ry, most notably the natural sciences and to some degree economics. In contrast to the
social sciences and humanities, high command of English is less of an issue in natural
The Dutch IR scholar, now retired,
but working in Britain, Kees van der Pijl provides a more comprehensive explanation in
The Discipline of Western Supremacy (2014). He argues that the entire development of
academic disciplines and universities is serving the wider hegemonic agenda of the lib-
eral international economic order. In spite of his detailed argumentation, this conclusion
should not be stretched too far. French and German philosophers, sociologists and histo-
rians (like Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze & Guattari, Habermas, Beck, the Frankfurter
Schule, Braudel, Bourdieu, etc.) have had a major impact across all disciplines within the
social sciences and the humanities. This can still be interpreted as Western supremacy,
but less easily as serving its hegemonic (read: American) agenda. Obviously, the same
goes for the work of Western scholars like Van der Pijl himself.
If one takes on board the relatively big influence of European migrants to the USA during
the Interbellum period, U.S. IR is even less American. Theories and philosophies have
followed European history and politics rather than American politics. In quite different
ways this is well-illustrated by Torbjørn Knutsen and Maghan Nayak & Eric Selbin (see
also: Holsti, 1985; Friedrichs, 2004). In one of the best introductory texts on IR, Knutsen
hegemonic thinking and convincingly emphasize the need to end the North/West domi-
nance in IR. (They are less convincing in describing how this can be achieved.)
Moreover, also among American universities competition exists. One of our students in
the project, Lieuwe Jongsma, introduced an interesting innovative approach to tracing
origins of authors and editors. He has made heat maps based on the scores of institu-
tions rather than national states.
This provides a much better picture of where the ac-
tion is. The USA all of a sudden is reduced to small parts of its two coastlines; the rest of
the country scores in similar ways as the rest of the world. Similarly, a bit depending on
the journal, UK IR centres on London.
Anglo-American dominance is also the result of a vicious circle, at least in IR: the canon
of IR is based on its most cited works. Students of IR have to reproduce and hence will
reify the existing
theses and dissertations, or when they prepare for basic IR exams. This practice might
change, but overall, the citation culture in IR will prolong the dominance of Anglo-
American IR for a long time. It is telling that many classics are getting Asian language
translations, notably Chinese, which will reinforce their dominance.
The (lost) beauty of monographs
History had a different development than IR. For long, the majority of historians wrote
history as a national narrative in a national tongue in monographs. Of course there were
some interesting exemptions, like Arnold Toynbee, Fernand Braudel and Oswald Speng-
ler. These were engaged in a version of world-s
words. He wrote a grand narrative of the rise and fall of some 25 civilizations, led by
small minorities and elites, with a time horizon of over 6,000 years. Spengler wrote a
kind of cultural world history in an almost social Darwinist perspective, originally pub-
lished in German. Their gross generalizations are seen as rather speculative now (Iggers,
2008: 387-388), but they had an impact across the West. Braudel wrote about the Medi-
terranean World in the Early Modern era, an inspiring book that became translated into
the major European languages, including English (Bédarida & Aymard, 1995: 206).
Nowadays, a majority of historians still see the monograph as the ultimate scholarly out-
let in their field. In a survey among some 1,416 historians in the United States in 2004
(as a part of the debate about the crisis of the scholarly monograph) 88% thought a book
had the most profound impact on their careers. They advised junior scholars to publish
books. But they also noticed the rising importance of the article, especially for scholars
more advanced in their careers, and that publishers tended to have more commercial
restraints in publishing books (Dalton, 2008: 210-217). These are opinions, there is not
much research done on the relative position of books among the citations by historians.
But the impression is strong that books and dissertations are still very important. Sever-
al tests on what type of publications of historians are cited often on the site of Publish or
Perish do confirm the solid position of books. This is also concluded in a similar analysis
made by Peter Webster (Webster, 2013).
See his review on the MHIR programmes website.
In the past, most historians wrote monographs on national history, and for long this his-
tory was a book. Even the first periodicals started as a kind of book series, with lengthy
contributions on national history by different authors. The first journals were annuals,
like the one published by the Verein für Geschichte und Altertumskunde Westfalen since
1825 or the the Annuaire-Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de France (1863). At that
time the classic format of the Historical Journal was established by the Bavarian Histor-
ische Zeitschrift (1859) and the Revue Historique (1876) (Stieg, 1986: 39-68). This was
soon followed by other journals with fixed frequency of appearance, a number of schol-
arly articles and a section on book reviews. Around the turn of the century The English
Historical Review (1886) and The American Historical Review (1895) started to be pub-
lished by the national historical associations. Other European countries followed soon:
a look at the 2000 edition of Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory yields an esti-
mated 3,500 titles that treat some manner of history
Nisonger (2001: 79-80) found over 4,000 titles in Ulrich’s dealing with political science,
but is silent about the percentage of this dealing with IR.
A new tide of History Journals appeared shortly after the Second World War. Journals
like the English Comparative Studies in Society and History and Past & Present (both
starting in the 1950s) were a kind of Anglophone answer to the French Annales. Econo-
mies, Sociétés, Civilisations. This journal became generally accepted as the exponent of
the major renewal of the discipline, not just because of the large international congress
of historians took place in Paris in 1948. The Annales counted in its editorial board his-
torians like Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel and many others, who all were
famous because of their books (Iggers, 2008: 265-262). These new journals were far less
dedicated to national history. Their topics were strongly thematic; social, economic, cul-
tural or philosophical in character. Some of them being Marxist (Past & Present) others
more oriented to modern American Sociology (Journal of Interdisciplinary History) or the
social sciences in general. The new approaches that were published in the articles added
to the significance of the journal as a medium amongst (at first the younger) historians.
Political history remained an important theme in the historical discipline, but slowly lost
its national orientation.
Since the 1970s a new type of historical journal emerged. These journals were more
specialised and addressed much smaller audiences among historians. The topic of these
journals were for instance maritime or medical history, quantitative history, contempo-
rary history; technique, media, music, theatre, gender, Marxist, working class, Renais-
sance, 16th, 17th or 18th century or whatever other historical theme or period one could
think off. The start of a new journal became relatively easy and cheap. New generations
of historians met at seminars, workshops and thematic conferences. They started a new
association or organisation and this society published a journal. These became im-
portant new outlets in almost every national language. New knowledge, new results and
new approaches were published by PhD-students and Postdocs in these journals, where
senior and midcareer historians still published books, sometimes for a wider audience.
Iggers stresses the role of the combination of an ever growing number of students and
teaching staff, new technologies (especially the personal computer and internet), plus
the accompanying digitalization of sources. This has changed the scope of history and
opened up for a truly world history, a global debate and a global modern historiography
(Iggers, 2008: 13-16).
These developments inspired historians to take up new topics and also to address a
more international audience. In the last decade in most west-European countries na-
tional journals started to publish articles in English. Their editorial boards were sup-
development seems to be part of a new phase of internationalisation of academia. It
provides new chances for English writing scholars in existing journals and new journals.
These journals and their content receive a wider English reading audience. In this
broadening academic world, reputation and quality assessment becomes more and
more important. Readers want the quality of the published materials guarantied. This
has led to peer-review and bibliometrics, with huge consequences on the journals, even
on the historical journal.
Examples of historical journals that are restyling are easy to find. The Dutch Bijdragen
en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden (BMGN originally from
1877) calls itself since 2012 BMGN: The Low Countries Historical Review. More im-
portantly it has adapted its editorial proceedings, has a peer-review process now and is
inviting submissions in English. An example from Italy is the Florence based journal, that
started in 1968 with the title Il pensiero politico: rivista di storia delle idee politiche e so-
ciali. In 2011 it established an international advisory board, added English summaries to
Italian articles and published some articles in English since. It also started to assess the
quality of articles by a doppio cieco da referee as the website states
(http://www.olschki.it/riviste/11 accessed 08-November 2015). It is interesting to see
a really Francophone interdisciplinary journal as Cahiers d’études Africaines, completely
dominated by French scholars (as editors and authors just a third of the authors is
from Africa), publishing in its post-2008 editions more and more articles in English. The
trend in historical journals is unmistakably there.
In IR, stronger than in History, publishing journals in relatively small languages, like
Dutch, is hardly profitable. The specialized IR-circles are fairly small, whereas the wider
circle of academics (mainly in political science and international law) and professional
groups like diplomats, international civil servants and journalists are hardly interested
in the scholarly debates. They want to read about applied science in concrete issue-areas
and regions. Monographs in IR are mainly written as PhD-dissertations (mostly in Eng-
lish). Some of them make it to the expansive hard cover book series of mainly UK-based
publishing houses (especially Routledge). But there is a growing practice to get a PhD by
publishing peer reviewed articles.
The political science journal Acta Politica originally appeared in Dutch but managed to
survive by turning to English and finding a British publishing house: Palgrave Macmil-
lan. In contrast, the Dutch peace research journal Vrede & Veiligheid: Tijdschrift voor in-
ternationale vraagstukken disappeared in 2011: insufficient subscriptions and lack of
interest by potential authors because the articles do not count as peer reviewed. The
Internationale Spectator (housed by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations
Clingendael and published by Van Gorcum) still survives, because it is widely read in
diplomatic circles. It is a foreign policy journal rather than IR. The Flamish-Dutch journal
Res Publica: politiek-wetenschappelijk tijdschrift van de Lage Landen [political science
journal of the Low Countries] appears also in Dutch and is peer reviewed. It covers polit-
ical science rather than IR. The other Belgian-based journal, Studia Diplomatica: The
Brussels Journal of International Relations, originally published in French (since 1948),
nowadays contains mainly articles in English, and occasionally in French and Dutch. In
general, however, most academics in IR in the Netherlands publish in English. The
Netherlands witnessed, according to the Scopus database, between 1996 and 2011 the
fastest growth in article publications in the English-language. Italy and Russia were sec-
ond and third, according to this database (Weijers 2012).
There is a continuous call for quality assessment. Internationalisation makes more pub-
lications accessible to an ever larger audience, who has to decide on the value of these
scholarly products before they actually start reading these. So reputation of scholars and
the prestige of journals in which they publish have become increasingly important. Also
in the assessment of individual academic performance, scholarly impact has become
more and more important, at least for some administrators, and is feared by some col-
leagues (see for this fear: Worton, 2011). Eugene Garfield, generally seen as the founder
of the Science Citation Index in the late 1950s, calls these arguments the major ad-
vantages of bibliometrics in reply to his critics (Garfield, 2006: 90-93). However, discus-
sion remains about what
number of citations as an indicator for scholarly impact sounds simpler then it is, espe-
cially in a field where different publication cultures (books, monographs) exist and pub-
lications in different languages appear. So the humanities and the social sciences also are
problematic fields to apply these kinds of statistics to.
There are different rankings, based on different methods, metrics and databases. The
classic, by Eugene Garfield founded, ISI citation indexes and its derivatives (like the Web
of Science and its Arts & Humanities Citation Index) are bought by libraries and still
used, but there are important questions about their reliability when it comes to the hu-
manities and the social sciences. There is a substantial amount of literature on these
problems (e.g., Harzing and Van der Wal, 2008; Archambault and Larivière, 2010; Larsen
and Von Ins, 2010). The most important disadvantages mentioned are the low number
of articles compared to the number of monographs, the underrepresentation of mono-
graphs in most existing databases, the underrepresentation of non-American journals,
and the even larger underrepresentation of languages other than English. A connected
argument is the global or national relevance of output in the social sciences and humani-
ties. Is a publication meant for a global market always more valuable than one that ad-
dresses a more specific regional audience? And what about alternative outlets, outside
the classical journal, are these less relevant? These types of publications (web-blogs,
videos, exhibits) are especially popular in new fields in the social sciences, humanities
There are more problems addressed in the literature, some really technical about the
reliability of references as a base for citations, the temporal windows used to count cita-
tions, the different speeds in which publications age, and some more principal, about the
relevance of a quality assessment based on quantitative methods, or the question if the
humanities and social sciences share enough concepts and approaches to have a real
debate that leads to citation-cultures similar to the natural sciences, etc. For some disci-
plines their transdisciplinary character is a problem. IR is so close to various other dis-
ciplines, most strongly Political Science, but also History, International Law, European
Law, Sociology, Economics, Geography, Peace Research, Strategic Studies, Diplomatic
Studies, Public Administration, Development Studies, Ethics and Philosophy that ranking
is problematic. Although there are dozens of IR journals, ranking these mostly boils
down to ranking a sub-category of political science journals which does no justice to the
richness of the field (Nisonger, 2001). Kyle Grayson provides a nice concise overview of
(Grayson, 2010). He draws no conclusions, but among the various ranking sites there is
no agreement on what qualifies as A, B or C journal, although the variance is not huge.
However, the discussion did result in improvements and alternatives. The use of Google
in addition to existing databases is seen as an improvement. Scopus and Publish or Per-
ish are using Google Scholar and claim to have a better coverage when different lan-
guages and different types of media (articles, blogs and books) are involved (Archam-
bault and Larivière, 2010; Harzing and Van der Wal, 2008). This improvement has given
rise to more intense debates about the quality and meaning of ranking. Scholars, librari-
ans and administrators are tempted to use the different ranking systems for their sub-
sequent goals, just as we did for educational reasons. Recently, a similar use of rankings
was made by a group of Princeton graduate students in the humanities and social sci-
ences as part of their course. They provide ranking information on 44 Journals in cultur-
al and literary studies published in the USA. Their project was intended to answer the
question where has a young scholar the best chances to publish, and with the highest
impact (Belcher, 2014). However it was impossible for them to provide a clear cut an-
swer because of the enormous diversity of research themes and accompanying outlets.
Another approach to listing relevant journals in specific fields was attempted by profes-
sional librarians at the end of the last century. In their Journal of the Century project
they wrote essays reflecting on the most relevant journals in a specific field, including
modern history and political sciences & international relations. These essays were pub-
lished in a volume (Stankus, 2002). The authors were not very explicit about their crite-
ria for selecting journals, but a reviewer of the volume in a medical journal detected the
published lists of core journals, faculty or colleague surveys, journal reputation, journal
longevity, inclusion in significant indices, and the authors' own subject expertise and
, not surprisingly, [t]he listed journals are
almost exclusively English language with exceptions in the chapters on music, art, his-
tory, and mathematics
More specific on European journals, was the attempt by the European Science Founda-
tion (ESF) to establish a list of relevant European Journals in different fields, including
social sciences and the humanities. This European Reference Index for the Humanities
(ERIH) started in 2007 and selected some 50% of the existing 14,000 scholarly journals
in Europe. Its main ambition was to put these journals more in the spotlights, says Mi-
chael Worton, one of the members of the ERIH Steering committee (Worton, 2011). The
first 2007 list mentioned three categories: A) high-ranking international journals, B)
standard international journals, g-
nificance". In 2011 these were replaced by three categories indicating different types of
audience: a "national" academic audience (Nat) or a worldwide, "international" audience
(Int). These International journals are then split into Int1 and Int2 journals. In 2014 the
responsibility for the humanities list, now called ERIH-plus, was transferred from the
ESF to the Norwegian Social Science Data Services and also included social sciences now
In 2011 the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences noticed another problem
typical for IR and History, and almost absent in natural and social sciences. Its Interim
report by the Committee on Quality Indicators in the Humanities
the point of view of practice, the existing databases provide entirely insufficient cover-
and are not relevant for re-
search that is intended to address societal problems and primarily searches to valorise
scholarship. They propose a quality assessment based on peer review, which has to be
[a]n initiative at a European level (ERIH) for classifying hu-
manities journals was a failure
Western white-male hegemony
In our project we did not rank the journals but looked at their ranking as one of the qual-
ifications a journal could haveo-
vers the journal reviews about the period 2005-2011
the reviews about the period 2010-2014. As Jongsma shows, not all of the data in the
various reports has been collected according to the strict methodological requirements
of comparative research. The students in the project had considerable freedom to devel-
op their own approach for analysing 5 volumes of the journal they selected. Their re-
search had to be beneficial to their specific thematic development also. This was part of
the learning objectives of the course. Still there is sufficient similarity to allow for a qual-
itative comparison, as well as generating some overall statistical data. Dankbaar puts
her analysis in the broader IR debate about U.S. dominance in this discipline. The journal
reviews support the conclusion earlier drawn by other scholars that IR is essentially an
American and male dominated discipline. She interprets and enriches various existing
explanatory hypotheses by adding insights from the analyses of History journals as well
as secondary literature on other disciplines. The pattern in those studies is identical to
those in IR. As a consequence, authors focusing on IR only need to control their often
speculative conclusions against this wider context: there is nothing peculiar about IR
the subject. All disciplines are American disciplines be it with major trans-Western
So far we mainly focused on explanations of U.S. dominance. The other pattern is male
dominance. This dominance is even more general and overwhelming than the geo-
academic imbalance. Some editorial boards do have a significant number of women
(some a third or even half), but the percentage of female authors is very low. Male con-
tributors ranges from 80 percent in the European Journal of International Relations to 60
percent in Human Rights Quarterly. And in History from some 70 percent of male authors
contributing to the Journal of Comparative Sociology to an almost balanced gender divi-
sion in the Journal of Global History.
Typical, the IR literature focusing on the nature of the discipline hardly worries about
gender imbalance, but mainly about U.S. hegemony. Apparently gender imbalance is
taken for granted or is not noted as problematic. Obviously, male dominance is merely
an indicator (for positivists) or a signifier (for constructivists) of gender inequality. It
fits the first wave of feminist literature, highlighting the marginalized position of women
in the field. Interestingly, the majority of our undergraduate students in the BA degree
programme International Relations & International Organization (IRIO), as well as the
BA in History are female; often up to two-thirds of the overall 800-1,000 students study-
ing IR, and 500-700 students studying History in Groningen. Where do they go? At PhD-
level they already start to be outnumbered by their male colleagues.
Later waves in feminist literature are looking for explanations by pointing out and ana-
lysing masculinities in IR. The 2013-edition of Gender and International Rela-
tions: Theory, Practice, Policy, addresses these debates. In History, similar work is done
by various European scholars exploring gender and scientific personae. Given the wider
societal context in which IR and History exist, it comes as no surprise that the journals
reflect and reify the construction and reproduction of gender as it occurs in and by soci-
religions. Our data will not be surprising for those familiar with the WomanStats Project
of Brigham Young University, which uses 280 variables to study the position of women
in 174 countries (see: www.womanstats.org). The point is how to explain the imbalance
and how to assess its consequences for improving our insights in IR and History.
The racial dimension is even less documented or discussed. Is tallying colour more con-
troversial than tallying gender? It turned
more difficult to assess than gender: names reveal gender more easily than racial identi-
ty. The discourse about race and discrimination is structured differently than the dis-
course about gender and discrimination. In feminist literature there is acknowledge-
ment that feminine and masculine qualities differ. Both women and men share most of
these qualities, but are socialized stereotypically into Barbie & Ken (if not Rambo). Soci-
etal institutions follow this pattern. The discourse nowadays is about finding the optimal
mix of these societally estranged positions. In practice, and quite superficially, this main-
ly boils down to the imperative to hire more women in leading functions. This is reflect-
ed to some extent in the composition of editorial boards, but not yet in the published
articles. The deeper cultural layers will not be changed by IR-scholars or Historians.
The discourse about racial discrimination is different in character, and is, as far as we
could trace, almost absent in the discussions on academic publishing. This may change.
In 2015, Robert Vitalis published the Sussex International Theory Price-winning book
White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations,
which challenges the historiography fundamentally. He re-
veals, e.g., that the present journal Foreign Affairs originates from the Journal of Race
Development. Among the main missions of the journal, and of IR, was to study how to
preserve white racial dominance in a world of global interdependence.
Recall that legal racial segre-
gation in the USA was only abolished in 1964.
The book stirred some unrest among reviewers. Gideon Rose in Foreign Affairs
(March/April 2016) praises Vitalis for filling a void, but labels his conclusions about the
racist nature of IR a political bias. Quincy J. Swan (2016) is more positive, but also asks
ere still a racist and structural bias toward historically black schools
and their faculty in terms of foundation funding, academic prestige, and disdain of the
Africana activist-: 24) gives the
answer but mostly through new
African-American studies programmes, not political science or international relations.
Black undergraduates today are very unlikely to study or pursue advanced degrees in
political science; those few who do are taught a history of the discipline of international
It is slippery ground to treat racial discrimination as a mirror image of gender discrimi-
nation. Whereas gender balance nowadays is about balancing normative biases and
qualities, it is unclear what racial balance would imply beyond addressing the shared
bias in social-economic and cultural practices. Normative stereotyping as known from
gender studies could easily create a revival of scientific racism, even if positive discrimi-
nation is intended. Still it is clear that ethnicity correlates with chances of success in an
academic career. The problem is far from American. Various Dutch universities have so-
called Diversity Commissions to address the problem of underrepresentation of non-
Western students in academia; a problem well-analysed in a broader societal context by
Gloria Wekker (2016).
Part of the discussion is central in the debate about non-Western
IR, but then in geopolitical terms (see, e.g., Nayak & Selbin, 2010; Acharya & Buzan,
2007). , want
debate. There has been some lip service to equality: IR textbooks, for example, tend to
link the development of Dependency theories with Latin American assertiveness about
economic imperialism, pointing at the Argentinian economist Raúl Prebisch. But, ac-
knowledging Postcolonialism and Orientalism, this hardly offers an alternative view of
world society based on the perspectives from the Global South. In support of that cri-
tique it is worthwhile to mention that almost all authors in the Journal of African History,
assessed in our project, come from the West or study there.
In Conclusion: The Journal Review Project
Dankbaar wrote her analysis on the basis of the reviews made up to 2012. We continued
the project till 2014, with a small extra sample in 2015, covering more diverse and lower
ranked, but mostly English language journals. There were a few remarkable results. The
geographical bias in lower ranked journals is increasing. Editorial teams of American
journals are made up of editors affiliated with an American university. In Europe the
editorial boards of European journals are becoming more diverse, meaning the number
of members with connections to American and British universities is increasing. This is
also the case with journals with a specific regional focus, in our case Africa and Eastern
Europe. Whereas North-American authors dominate publications in the Journal of Peace
Research and of the Journal of Development Studies, the editorial teams are mostly made
up of Norwegians and Brits respectively. Another interesting observation is that where-
as the Journal of International Relations and Development aimed to feature more authors
from Central and Eastern European countries, a minority of the editorial team comes
In 2016, the Diversity Commission of the University of Amsterdam published the report Let’s Do Diversi-
ty. Here a -at least -
ing from the Antilles & Aruba (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), Surinam, Morocco and Turkey.
from that region. Non-Western countries are still largely underrepresented. There is no
real difference in what is happening to the editorial boards as to the authors of the jour-
Striking is that the same development is visible in the historical Journals: scholars from
non-Western countries are underrepresented in all the History journals, as are the au-
thors from the other two large English-speaking countries, Canada and Australia. An
interesting observation is the fairly good representation of Dutch scholars: especially in
the Journal of Global History and History and Theory, a relatively high amount of articles
is published by Dutch scholars. In addition, there is a deep gap between Anglophone
scholarship and non-Anglophone scholarship, which becomes clear for journals with ar-
ticles in French, Italian or Dutch only. There seems to be hardly any communication be-
Anglophone journals and articles published in languages other than English. This
could be seen as a double warning. The majority of American and British scholars miss a lot
of what is published In this context it is interesting that a new IR journal tries to disclose
non-English original work to an international audience. The European Review of Interna-
tional Studies (ERIS) has been set up in 2010 to review books published in any European
language safe English, it has a peer review process involving the various national IR (or
IR-related) communities, and publishes articles from the non-Anglophone world in Eng-
All reviews by students who agreed to publish them online can be found in the files on
the MHIR programmes website. We did not edit them heavily. These are research pa-
pers, which we of course graded, but which represent the views of the individual au-
thors. For most of them this was the first encounter with journals in this way. Students
are generally not made aware of the craftsmanship and economics behind publications.
As a result, some of their observations may look naive from a professional academic
point of view; yet others profit from the fresh look of an outsider. Often they asked addi-
tional information from the editorial staff of the journals. Some editors were very coop-
erative and open, some explicitly refused any form of contact, while others never took
the trouble to answer to the replies, as you can read in the reports.
guages of us and our students. We disagree, however, with people arguing that this has a
negative effect on nuance and precision although there are frequent debates about this
within our universities and in society at large. We doubt that academics who practiced
Latin as their working language had similar concerns. Conservatism and chauvinism
provide better reasons to protest against this aspect of globalisation than fears for loss
IR and History as we know it today are an expression of Anglophone hegemony and the
Liberal International Economic Order established by the West, combined with the gen-
der imbalance in all corners of world society. Even the approaches that intend to expose
and change these dominant structures, such as Postcolonialism and Gender Studies, are
captive of this practice. Traditionally, the Historical discipline is less dominated by re-
search agendas written in English. Nevertheless, in Europe and elsewhere, the process of
internationalisation has made international, hence English-language journals extremely
Projects and reports like ours intend to contribute to the historiography of our disci-
plines as disciplines. With economic hegemony moving to Asia, chances are bigger that
the number of Asian scholars publishing in leading History and IR journals will increase.
Due to low costs, they are printing most books and journals already. Why not start writ-
ing them too? That could be a next stage in the longue durée of studying and writing
about world history and world politics.
We like to thank Sabine Dankbaar, Yuri van Hoef, Lieuwe Jongsma for their assistance in
the meta-analysis of the reports, we thank our colleagues in our respective departments
for their comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this article. A very special
thank you goes to our students that contributed to the project.
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List of reviewed journals and authors:
Note: not all the students gave us the permission to publish their reports on the website.
01 Comparative Studies in Society & History – period: 2006-2010 by Fenna Plaisier
02 European Journal of International Relations – period: 2006-2010 – by Stefanie Holz
03 Foreign Affairs period: 2007-2011 by Yuri van Hoef
04 Global Society period: 2007-2011 by Yara van
05a History & Theory period: 2006-2011 by
05b History & Theory period: 2006-2011 by Marijn Parmentier
06 Human Rights Quarterly period: 2006-2011 by Anouk Baron
07 International Relations period: 2008-2012 by Andrei Cazacu
08 International Review of Social History period: 2006-2010 by Tess van den Heuvel
09 International Security period: 2008-2012 by Anna Buch
10 International Studies Quarterly period: 2006-2010 by Martin Duchac
11 Journal of African History period: 2008-2012 by Amisah Zenabu Bakuri
12 Journal of Cold War Studies period: 2007-2012 by Jack Michelmore
13 Journal of Common Market Studies period: 2006-2010 by Hedwich van der Bij
14a Journal of Global History period: 2006-2010 by Daniela Tenger
14b Journal of Global History period: 2006-2011 by Bernard Slaa
14c Journal of Global History 2009-2013 Bob Castelein
15 Journal of Interdisciplinary History period: 2006-2010 by Maarten Draper
16 Journal of International Relations & Development period: 2006-2010 by Yuliya Fruman
17 Journal of Peace Research period: 2007-2012 by Amarins Hielkema
18 Journal of the History of Ideas period: 2006-2010 by Germa Greving
19 Journal of Urban History period: 2006-2010 by Raymon R.J. Middelbos
20a Millennium: Journal of International Studies period: 2001-2005 by Marit de Lange
20b Millennium: Journal of International Studies period: 2006-2010 by Christian Pfenninger
21a Past & Present – period: 2006-2010 by Nynke Dorhout
21b Past & Present – period: 2007-2012 by Phil Heaton
22 Terrorism and Political Violence – period: 2007-2011 by Erika van Leeuwen
23 The Journal of African History – period: 2006-2010 by Abel S. Knottnerus
24a World Politics – period: 2005-2010 by Richard Sonneveld
24b World Politics – period: 2006-2011 by Tim Star
25 Security Dialogue 2010-2014 Thomas Behrndt
26 Memory Studies 2010-2014 Lieuwe Jongsma
27 History of Political Economy 2009-2013 Bart Hoogeboom
28 Theory and Event 2009-2013 Tania Rosales Moreno
29 South African Historical Journal, 2009-2013 Lisanne Coolen
30 Modern Italy 2009-2013 Rients Verschoor
31 Journal of Contemporary History 2009-2013 Jan Ybema
32 International Journal of Middle East Studies 2009-2013 Jaco Stoop
33 Environment and Development Economics 2009-2013 Pedro Miguel
34 Continuity and Change 2009-2013 Homer Wagenaar
35 Il pensiero politico 2010-2014 Chiara Ziletti
36 European History Quarterly, 2010-2015 Wesley Reynolds
37 The Iron Game Sport History, 2007-2011 Alexandra Stelzig
38 Mariner’s Mirror Nautical History, 2010-2014 Donald Laskey
39 American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 2010-2014 Logan Lake
40 Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 2008-2013 Benedikt Bäther
41 Cahiers d’études Africaines 2008-2012 Elisa Tuijnder
42 Journal of Africa Studies 2006-2010 Abel S. Knottnerus
43 Journal of comparative sociology 2008-2012 Patty Huijbers