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Musicology Journals and the Online world:

I have to admit, I stared at Michael’s access-some-kind-of-online/hybrid-journal-in-your-discipline assignment for quite a while before I summed up the courage to actually go hunting for Musicology journals in the online world, because my gut reaction was that my search was going to yield disappointing results.  And some of the results were a little disappointing, but some were also surprising.

So I would say that many, if not all, of the large, old, well respected journals in Musicology have transfered to some kind of hybrid of print and online publication for their distribution methods. I remember getting an email last year from the American Musicological Society (which is the largest organization for musicological research in “the americas”) saying that they were not going to give people the option of receiving their journal either a) electronically, b) in print, or c) in both mediums, as opposed to the way it had been since the journal was founded – every member got a printed copy of it in the mail four times a year. Oxford University Press, which publishes many of the journals I use on a frequent basis, also has each issue available online, but like the AMS journal and like almost every other music journal that was created by a publishing company before the internet existed, access to the online content is behind some kind of pay wall. For the AMS journal, you need to be a member of the AMS. For the Oxford Journals, you need to subscribe to their journal database. And like most grad students, I access all of these online journal databases through the library website, since the school/library pays the subscription fees. But personally, I don’t really consider this “online publishing” – I think of it more as “online distribution”.  And this was the more “disappointing” aspect of the research.

But as I continued my research, to my delight and surprise, I found a large list of music journals that are open access, and seem to have entirely online/electronic publication models. I found my way to the Directory of Open Access Journals, and searched under “music”, and it spit out a list of 47 different journals,. Interestingly, all of these open access journals are published by specific universities or interest group organizations, with none of them of published by some kind of “official” publishing company. The vast majority of journals in this list have only ever existed online, with the British Postgraduate Musicology Journal being the only one to I could find to exist in print first before switching to an entirely online distribution model (though, I should add, they only printed 3 volumes of the journal before switching to an online platform). It was also nice to see that the list featured journals from outside of the the US, and several journals were published in German (which is the founding-language of musicology, form a historical perspective). And although this journal is very new, I was pleased to see that a sub-committee of the American Musicological Society has begun printing a journal that is entirely online and open access – the Journal of Music History Pedagogy.  The vast majority of the journals were started between 2000-2010, which means that so far, they seem to have some staying power. Just how long they will live is unknown, and whether or not they will diversify their method of online publishing is yet to be seen. But they are stress on their website the rigorous peer-review process every article is subjected to, and they all seem to maintain fairly traditional publication styles – there are “x” amount of issues printed per year, and you can download each issue as a PDF file, and that PDF file strongly resembles what a printed version of the journal might look like.

As a side note: I found no hybrid journal article/blog post publications, and many of the musicological blogs that have sprung up in the past have died either quick, or slow and painful deaths (such as Dial M for Musicology, which had a huge following and lots of activity for about a year, and then fizzled – and in the aftermath, it got a lot of post-mordem attention from other musicological blog-esque writing as the example of why musicology blogs often fail).

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