University of Chicago Professor of Classics Sarah Nooter has written a FAQ about publishing in academic journals, and CP specifically. See below.
Please note that, traditionally, we have published both longer articles and short notes. The length of contributions varies with the subject matter, but we do not normally consider submissions above 45 double-spaced pages. Authors are limited to one manuscript submission to CP per year.
As a graduate student on the job market and the cusp of the PhD, hand-wringing over publications and job applications is no surprise, but I am surprised at how opaque those processes still seem to me. I’ve sought out and gotten snippets of advice, but they’ve left me with more questions than insights about where the “best places” to publish are. Are journal articles “better” than edited volumes or conference proceedings?
Basically, yes. Journal articles go through a rigorous (if fallible) peer-review process and, though some edited volumes and conference proceedings may include a version of peer review, it will not usually be as stringent as the process for a journal, thus lending the journal publication more weight as an indicator of your work’s high quality.
Note that peer review is meant to provide close reading of your work by one or more established scholars in your subfield. At CP, full-length articles get the attentions of two readers, and notes get read by one, before the reports are evaluated by the editorial staff. When this process works, it makes your work much stronger, if partly through the painful experience of rigorous critique.
Is Classical Philology a good fit for my article?
It depends! Though “philology” is in our title, we try to cover many subfields of classics. Our official language is this: “CP is devoted to publishing the best scholarly thought on all aspects of Greek and Roman antiquity, including literature, languages, anthropology, history, social life, philosophy, religion, art, material culture, and the history of classical studies. We also welcome contributions on the reception of classical antiquity, as well as on the interaction of Greece and Rome with other ancient cultures. CP is committed to both rigorous scholarship and the development of new approaches, and seeks to represent the full range of intellectual diversity across the field. Traditionally, we have published both longer articles and short notes. The length of contributions varies with the subject matter, but we do not normally consider submissions above 45 double-spaced pages. Authors are limited to one manuscript submission to CP per year.”
All that said, as with any journal, it’s good to check through recent issues to see if we seem to cover the territory within which you’re working. We hope that our articles and notes will offer broad appeal, so we tend to steer clear of work that is too technical in favor of more accessible approaches.
What should I do when CP is sitting on my manuscript?
First, an admittedly defensive remark: as editor of Classical Philology, I can say that we never sit on a manuscript and that we’re constantly trying to find ways to speed up the process. As soon as a manuscript arrives, the formatting, fit, and anonymity of the piece are checked. As soon as it checks out, it gets sent out to readers. As soon as suitable reports are received from readers, a decision is made on the editorial side, and the piece gets sent back to the author with a decision forthwith.
But, along the way, we have to locate suitable readers: in some cases, it can take many requests to find even one reader, let alone two or more; in some cases, would-be readers sit on a request to read a manuscript for weeks before responding, and we editors have to decide for how long to nudge people, or when to let a request go fallow and seek out another reader, which means starting the process from the beginning again; in some cases, as you may well imagine, scholars take a long time to return reports—despite polite prodding—and in some cases a report is never returned, causing the process to begin yet again after some delay. On occasion, a report is returned that cannot be used for various reasons and so a new one must be sought. All of these bumps along the way are not revealed to authors, but can cause frustrating delays. (All that said, we have many wonderful readers, who are very generous with their time, go above and beyond in writing detailed, helpful reports, and do so in a timely manner!)
But to your actual question: if a long time (perhaps four to six months) passes with no word from us, you can certainly write and inquire on the progress of your submission. If you lose faith in the process and want to take your piece elsewhere, you’re free to do so, but please remember to withdraw the piece from CP before you do.
The unfortunate fact is, therefore, that one must leave a lot of time for the submission, editorial, and (eventually, hopefully) production processes of publishing articles—much more time than might seem plausible. Our own biggest constraint at the moment is a substantial backlog of accepted articles. Consequently, at the moment, there is likely to be a lengthy delay before a newly accepted piece makes it into print. We are working hard to speed things up!