E-journal founded a decade ago grows from risky venture to global success
The idea was to provide open access to a body of works by some of the great minds of the world, and it worked.
Lawrence Berg is co-founder of ACME – An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, which is now celebrating its 10th year anniversary. ACME is an online international academic journal for critical analyses of the social, the spatial and the political. The journal's purpose is to provide a forum for the publication of critical work about space in the social sciences.
Berg, co-director of the Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice and a faculty member in Community, Culture and Global Studies with the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, says “the journal has a focus on critical theory in human geography, it is published in five languages, and it is free to anyone with access to the Internet.”
“It’s a peer-reviewed scholarly journal,” says Berg, adding each manuscript is reviewed by three referees and meets rigorous scholarly standards before publication is granted.
“Ninety per cent of the time a manuscript is rejected the first time it is submitted for review. That’s pretty standard,” says Berg. Of the 140 or so manuscripts submitted each year, about 35 to 40 meet publishing criteria, ensuring only the highest-quality pieces make it into the journal.
From its humble beginnings a decade ago, when Berg did not know how the site would be received or who would provide copy, ACME now receives submissions from around the world.
“The people accessing the journal online are from more than 160 different countries,” says Berg. The website for the journal now receives more than 220,000 visits and 140,000 article downloads per year.
Funding for the journal is currently provided by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; with the money being used to fund UBC PhD student Levi Gahman to work as the assistant editor for the journal.
Berg is also co-founder of Praxis (e)Press, an open access e-book publishing house that seeks to publish critical works in theory and practice in human geography from a variety of different theoretical perspectives.
The Centre for Social, Spatial and Economic Justice Press, is a third open-access publisher located in the Centre, and it specializes in more local and regional content.
“People publish books with Praxis and CSSEJ Presses because they want open access. People publish with ACME because they want open access,” says Berg, adding the driving force behind the publishing ventures is to pass knowledge along to the widest possible audience using open-access publishing, and thereby make it accessible to everyone.