Which Journals Are Likely to Publish Black Scholars?

As in other academic disciplines, “publish or perish” is an important dictum of scholars in black studies. But within the Africana studies fields, there appear to be two different publishing tracks that scholars travel.

Fabio Rojas, a sociologist at Indiana University, examined the journal publication records of tenured or tenure-track scholars at seven universities that offer a Ph.D. program in black studies. The seven universities in the study are Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Temple, Michigan State, Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts.

Rojas found that black studies scholars at the non-Ivy League institutions tended to publish in journals associated with the field, such as the Journal of Black Studies, Black Scholar, or the Journal of Negro Education. But black studies scholars at Harvard and Yale were more likely to be published in so-called mainstream publications in history, sociology, or the humanities.

The research examined the publication records of 97 professors who had published a total of 655 journal articles. The Journal of Black Studies had published 41 articles from black studies professors at these seven universities. This was more than any other journal. But only one of these 41 articles in the Journal of Black Studies was authored by a professor at Harvard or Yale. In contrast, Callaloo, a humanities journal housed at Texas A&M University, published 37 articles from black studies faculty at these seven universities, but 26 of them were authored by scholars at Yale or Harvard.

JBHE, where a majority of the editorial is generated in-house, ranked sixth overall but fifth in publishing the work of black studies professors at Harvard or Yale.

Professor Rojas concludes that Harvard and Yale tend to hire scholars who have made their mark in mainstream academic fields and these universities give them joint appointments in their chosen field and in Africana studies. These scholars at Harvard and Yale are likely to publish articles in journals associated with their particular mainstream discipline. But the other five universities tend to hire scholars who have made their mark exclusively in black studies. These academics for the most part have their work published in journals closely associated with the field of black studies.

It must be noted, too, that scholars of any race from Harvard or Yale have quite automatically achieved a high level of esteem. This may give them an advantage in having their works accepted for publication in mainstream academic journals.