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Oral History Review’s Short Form Initiative

By Caitlin Tyler-Richards


On behalf of the Oral History Review editorial staff, I am excited to publicly announce the journal’s latest project: the short form initiative. What is this? (I imagine everyone wondering aloud with feigned nonchalance.) Well, while the typical OHR article tends to fall between 8,000 to 12,000 words, we are now actively seeking substantially shorter submissions — approximately 3,000-4,000 words in length. The editorial staff will review pieces with the journal’s usual mission statement in mind, but also welcomes submissions that experiment with form and/or boast a multimedia dimension.
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Just like long-form pieces, the short-form article may address any aspect of oral history: theory, practice, methodology, pedagogy, uses/applications of oral history, editing and writing oral history. However, the short form initiative will allow us to more actively circulate ideas among the field. Most obviously, the lower-word count will allow us to publish more articles per issue. More excitingly, with the short-form we can create a space for “works-in-progress.” According to editor-in-chief Kathy Nasstrom, “A short-form piece [will be] where authors can feel the freedom to do a preliminary development of an idea and present work that is suggestive, not quite yet definitive.” By publishing such work, she hopes the OHR will encourage greater scholarly exchange. “Authors always get feedback before publication through the peer review process, but many more people can participate in responding to, and hopefully shaping, an author’s ideas when work-in-progress is published.”

To get a sense of how the short form initiative may shape future issues of Oral History Review, you may want to revisit the special issue on Oral History in the Digital Age. This issue, guest edited by the Louie B. Nunn Center’s Doug Boyd, featured a number of case studies and other articles that deviated from the standard long-form to better represent the field’s ongoing engagement with new recording and archiving technologies. Nasstrom considers the OHDA issue “a very good indicator of the reasons to move the journal in the short-form direction.” If this all sounds exciting to you — and we hope it does — you can look forward to the publication of OHR Volume 41, issue 2 this coming fall, which will feature a special “short-form initiative” section. I personally can’t wait to see what new theories and arguments our scholars have to share.

ETA: To clarify, inquiries about and submissions of short-form articles can be directed to:

Kathryn L. Nasstrom
Editor, The Oral History Review
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California, USA
Email: nasstromk[at]usfca.edu

and From July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015:

Stephanie Gilmore
Interim Editor, The Oral History Review
Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Email: shgilmore1[at]gmail.com

Finally, I imagine the Oral History Review is not the first journal to open its inbox to shorter submissions. So, if there are any editors or scholars out there who have experimented with this form, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Tips for our editorial staff are especially welcomed!

Caitlin Tyler-Richards is the editorial/media assistant at the Oral History Review. When not sharing profound witticisms at @OralHistReview, Caitlin pursues a PhD in African History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research revolves around the intersection of West African history, literature and identity construction, as well as a fledgling interest in digital humanities. Before coming to Madison, Caitlin worked for the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.

The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow the latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.

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Image credit: dictaphone isolated on white background, selective focus on nearest part. © Kuzma via iStockphoto.

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2 Responses to “Oral History Review’s Short Form Initiative”
  1. [...] few months, the Oral History Review has become rather demanding. In February, we asked readers to experiment with the short form article. A few weeks ago, our upcoming interim editor Dr. Stephanie Gilmore sent out a call for papers for [...]

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