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  • Lying Periodicals? August 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback


    Academics and serious historians get very worked up about publication dates. It is important to know, for example, whether, a publication on the Arab world was published before or after 11 Sept 2001; it is important to know whether bold new research (a) came before or after bold new research (b). Most of us can relax about this because books have publications dates printed clearly in the front: personally, Beach quite enjoys it when books don’t because it gives ‘the serious scholar’ a chance to show how cool he or she is in tracking down the obscure – check the British Library’s registration date, look for clues in the pages, look for dedications, check the author’s obit, smell the paper carefully (actually that’s just to impress students)… But recently Beach has learnt that there is another dimension to publication dates: say it quietly but people lie.

    This does not happen (?) with books, but it does happen with periodicals. A periodical is traditionally brought out once a year, but folk are lazy, bad things are sprung on you, and money runs out… What this means is that periodicals sometimes miss a year or two or three. So instead of having no. 17 (1992), no. 18 (1993) etc, we have no. 17 (1992) and no. 18 (1995). But academics being anal this is too much asymmetry to stand: remember that scholars spend their entire lives trying to bring the impossible complexity of reality into a simple series of rules. So the series becomes no. 17 (1992) and no. 18 (1993 but actually 1995).* Beach heard a couple of stories about this stuff from Sicily, but never believed it. However, in the last couple of years his rate of publication has risen and in the last twelve months he has had two articles in lying periodicals. One has ‘(2013)’ on the cover, though it came out just a few weeks ago, and another had ‘(2014)’ on the cover though it came out in 2015.

    Other lying publications: drbeachcombing

    *The obvious thing to do here is: no. 17 (1992), no. 18 (1993-95)

    31 Aug 2016: The great Mike Dash writes in ‘This problem is certainly not only widespread, but in some cases ascribed publication dates are misleading in the extreme. As an example in point, take the annual record published by my university college, Peterhouse. These typically arrive sporadically and at widely spaced intervals that bear very little resemblance to the notional publication dates they proudly display on the covers. Last month (ie, July 2016) i received a package containing the Peterhouse Records for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, so in one case at least the pub date was out by eight years. Peterhouse takes great pride in the fact that it was established in 1284, and I suppose assumes that in a history spanning almost 750 years, eight years here and there are really nothing.’