Not long after I came to LSE in Autumn 1995 the PSA Executive Committee put out a request to all departments for proposals for a new journal to add to the portfolio of PSA Journals which at that time comprised Political Studies and Politics, the latter of which was geared towards graduate students and had been partly founded by a young Patrick Dunleavy in the mid-1970s. I was already interested in journal editing as I had been involved in the founding of Utilitas by my PhD supervisor Fred Rosen and published by Oxford University Press. I went on to become a reviews editor.
Through the world of journal editing and publishing, I had seen changes in the demand for journal space for research articles as a consequence of the RAE (what is now REF) and the desire of early-career faculty to publish review essays and review books as part of establishing their personal reputations. At this time APSA was also considering and change to its own journals that resulted in the launch of Perspectives on Politics.
The LSE Government department allowed me to put together a proposal for a new journal called ‘Political Studies Review’ that would split the existing journal and launch a separate review and discussion piece journal. I was unsuccessful in the competition as the Executive was looking for a new journal and I was seen, I suppose, as treading on the toes of the existing editorial team which at that time was at the University of Manchester and edited by Mick Moran. The PSA eventually chose Dave Marsh’s plan for the British Journal of Politics and International Relations, which has gone on to great things.
Although the initial proposal was unsuccessful it did get the attention of Patrick Dunleavy at LSE, who is one of the more entrepreneurial political scientists in the UK. When the call for a new editorial team for Political Studies went out in 1998 we put together a proposal for the Journal to come to LSE with Patrick as General Editor and me as Executive Editor. The roles didn’t previously exist but we both planned a significant expansion of the existing Journal. Despite suspicion by some members of the executive committee of PSA we got the support of Rod Rhodes, Mick Moran who was becoming chair of the Journals subcommittee and of course John Benyon the treasurer. John was always one of the more entrepreneurial figures on the PSA executive and he could see the opportunity for a significant benefit to the members in terms of the return from the publisher (Wiley Blackwell) and in terms of a benefit of membership – four Journals.
With the support of the executive Political Studies came to LSE with some help from non-LSE colleagues such as Helen Margetts then at UCL. Perhaps the most important early decision was the appointment of Jane Tinkler as the Journal Manager, Jane had known Helen from Birkbeck College. Patrick, Jane and I set about expanding and professionalising Political Studies to increase the volume of research articles that could be published. As the original contract with Wiley Blackwell had a fixed page budget we could not just expand each issue so back came the original idea of Political Studies Review but this time on the back of a strong editorial team and with the confidence and support of Sarah Phibbs at Wiley and John Benyon on the PSA Executive, and plenty of visits to Blackwells headquarters on Cowley Road. We planned the rollout of Political Studies Review as the signature of our second term as editors of Political Studies and it appeared in print in 2003. By shifting space to PSR as we always called it, we could increase articles published in the main journal, but we now had a blank canvas to explore the other general support we could give the association through publishing commissioned pieces on the state of the discipline, extended reviews and review essays by young or established figures which were difficult to do in the main Journal and of course to expand the book review section considerably.
When innovating in academic publishing, space is the key alongside protecting the brand of an existing title. In my previous life as an early-career faculty member in Swansea (and of course before on-line really took off) I was acutely aware of the value of the reviews section as a way of keeping up with what was being done across the disciplines that make up political studies. The extra space for reviews was also attractive to publishers who could be confident that more of their work would be reviewed and reviewed quickly. But our vision was not simply to produce more traditional reviews but to expand the research support and contribution to academic debate and what we now call research dissemination through creating debates, returning to classic debates and constantly rehearsing and promoting progress or advances in the sub-fields of political science.
Establishing the journal was a joint effort and whilst Patrick and I claim credit, much of the work was really done by Jane Tinkler who built up an extraordinary network across the UK profession and amongst academic publishers. There was a lot of work, but it was also enormous fun and something for which I am most proud of. PSR has now been edited from a number of departments and is no longer seen as Political Studies part B. It has grown in its own right and transformed itself further as all the PSA journals are responding to on-line and e-publishing. Although the journal has not quite been in existence as long, I have lived with versions of it for twenty-five years and its original vision is still their in the work of the current editorial team and their great stewardship of PSR.
The team at Brunel took over the editorship of Political Studies Review in 2019. We inherited a journal that was in a very strong place. The founding editors of the journal and the successive teams had ensured that the journal had gone from strength to strength and we want to ensure that this success continues.
Political Studies Review has developed a core identity and under our editorship, the original aims of the journal remain. But, we are also building journal’s identity and aims. We’ve introduced some new innovations to the journal alongside the existing long-form articles, review articles and special issues which continue to form the core of the journal’s identity. These include short-form article sections on early results, symposia and new ideas, and the null hypothesis. Together these provide authors will a variety of different options for publishing their work and mean that readers can access some great research in a range of different formats.
We’ve also placed great emphasis on promoting articles in the journal through social media. We purposefully hired an established social media professional to take over the managerial reins of the journal (Dr Eliza Kania) and as you will see from this website, we’ve very quickly established a strong social media presence and introduced innovations such as podcasts of 140 seconds to disseminate authors’ work. These initiatives have proved to be very successful, and articles in the journal are promoted very widely in a format which attracts plenty of attention.
As Paul Kelly makes clear, the idea behind Political Studies Review was to create something a little different. Our aim is to take that vision and build upon the fine work of the founding editors and previous editorial teams.