28 Jan Publish in the Global South: A Call for Rebellion
[UPDATE: I’ve updated the information regarding the number of Latin American journals in the Scimago Ranking. Thanks to Sergio Verdugo for pointing out the actual numbers!]
Back in May last year, I was asked to co-coordinate the 63rd issue of Ius et Veritas, a leading open-access, peer-reviewed, student-led, law journal in Peru. The way things work in Peru, law journals are almost always edited by non-for-profit associations set up by law students. These non-for-profits have strong ties to their universities but are fully independently from them – they have their own means of financing, their own editorial board, and have no official supervision from university faculty or staff. University involvement is usually limited to hosting the journal’s issues in their website.
In the past few years, most of these journals have undergone and continue to undergo efforts to professionalise and attain the highest levels of quality in order to compete in the global academic world. Back in 2007, when I was editor-in-chief of one such journal, Universidad de Lima’s Advocatus, issues were not peer-reviewed, were not open-access, and did not accept English-submissions. Nowadays, all of that has changed. In fact, both Ius et Veritas and Advocatus are now indexed in Latindex, Ibero-America’s main journal indexation system.
Now, why do I bring this up, you may be wondering? Well, because one of the first decisions we made when we started to plan for Ius et Veritas’ newest issue was that we would accept English-language submissions. Ius’ editorial board was thrilled at the possibility. Imagine, being able to get access to original knowledge from all over the world (usually, Peruvian journals will ask for the rights to translate already published foreign language papers to Spanish and re-publish them instead). When the call for papers went out, I retweeded weekly reminders that you could now “publish your work in the Global South and support Global South journals”. Some colleagues showed interest, everyone was extremely supportive – but at the end of the day, except for a Spanish author writing in Spanish, no Global North voices submitted their papers.
Of course, Ius et Veritas’ newest number looks fantastic, Global North or no Global North. It is full of super-stars from all over Ibero-America, including frequent participants in our International Legal Twitter Community, like Santiago Vargas Nino, Moisés Montiel and Catalina Fernández Carter. It is a fantastic issue and I highly encourage you to read it (for you monolinguals, Moisés’ article is in English). I also know why no Global North scholars sent their papers to our call for papers. In the publish-or-perish world we live in, where you publish your articles matters just as much (perhaps even more) than what you write in them. Only one Peruvian journal is listed in the Scimago Journal Ranking. In fact, of 770 journals, only 40 are Latin American. Peruvian journals are not listed in Web of Science’s Social Sciences Citation Index. In fact, there is only one Latin American law journal listed in the SSCI – Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s Revista Chilena de Derecho. There are actually quite a few in their Emerging Sources Citation Index, which is a welcomed addition that started in 2015, but let’s face it, that “emerging” is one heavy looking qualifier right there.
I am thus not trying to blame or chastise individual scholars for their reticence about publishing outside the Global North journal circuit – instead, I am trying to open your eyes at the possibilities of rebelling against this system by empowering the Global South. Of course, like any rebellion, it will come at a cost. Whichever article you choose to publish in a Global South journal will likely not be the star of your academic career. It won’t make your CV shine before selection committees. But, to quote Lin Manuel Miranda, “stars don’t shine, they burn”. In a world where Global North publishing houses are literally charging thousands of dollars to publish your paper in open access (and thus gatekeeping access to everybody else’s papers) why not give a Global South, peer-reviewed, open-access journal a little push – it will mean the world to them and hey, you don’t need to do it with every single paper. Just enough to send a message. Literally once will do. This is what I do. My personal pledge is to try to publish one of my papers in Spanish in a Spanish-speaking journal in Latin America at least every 18 months. I have thus written in journals in Peru (2016, 2018, 2021) and Argentina (2020) – I skipped 2019 because I wrote a book.
So, if you are angry with the way the publishing system in the Global North is working, why not send a message by publishing every once in a while in Africa, Asia, or Latin America? Journals are out there, seeking you out, like this recent tweet from Universidad de Chile’s Tribuna, written in English this very week, asking for your submissions. I thus end this post by encouraging you to ask your Global South colleagues about which journals you can write in and take a chance. This year, send one of your articles to a Global South journal and let Global North publishers know. If enough people do it, who knows… change needs to start somewhere.