Exceptional Children: Familiar Paths and New Directions
Graham, Steve, Exceptional Children
Almost 20 years ago, Exceptional Children shifted from a journal edited in-house at the offices of The Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) to a journal edited by a scholar in the field. Jim Ysseldyke at the University of Minnesota served as the editor of Exceptional Children during this critical transition period. One of Jim's most important legacies was the specification of the types of manuscripts that were suitable for publication in the journal. This included the publication of the most "major, important, scholarly papers in special education" (Ysseldyke, 1984, pp. 7-8). Succeeding editors (Naomi Zigmond, Bob Algozzine, and Martha Thurlow) also adopted this goal, and I plan to continue their tradition by publishing in Exceptional Children the best scholarship in the field. This includes original research, research integration papers, methodological reviews of the literature, data-based position papers, and policy analyses that focus on exceptional infants, toddlers, children, youth, or adults.
During his editorship, Jim instituted a blind peer-review process. Authors' names, affiliations, and other identifying information were first removed from a submitted manuscript before it was mailed out for review. It was expected that reviews would be completed in a timely manner and provide authors with instructive information on both the strengths and shortcomings of their paper. These same processes and principles were adopted by succeeding editors, and will continue during my term as well. I would especially like to go on record as making a pledge that once we receive a paper for review, an editorial decision will be sent to the submitting author within 3 months time or less.
Another familiar path that Exceptional Children will continue to tread is to make the journal as accessible as possible to teachers and other practitioners. Authors will be asked to discuss the "educational implications" of their findings, fully describe the intervention (if one is involved), and limit their use of educational jargon. I further hope to increase the number of articles published in the journal that focus on effective interventions. Instruction is at the heart of the special education enterprise, and instructional research should be a common staple in Exceptional Children.
Although there is no plan to change the overall purpose of the journal or the basic process for reviewing submitted manuscripts, I made several modifications to how the journal will operate. One of the most visible changes is the inclusion of two Executive Associate Editors as part of the editorial team. Like the editor, Executive Associate Editors serve as the "action editor" on manuscripts submitted to the journal. I have been very fortunate because Dr. Joan Lieber and Dr. Margaret McLaughlin, both at the University of Maryland, agreed to serve in this role. Joan's primary area of expertise is in early childhood special education, whereas Maggie is an expert in school reform and policy. Within the next year to 2 years, we plan to add a third Executive Associate Editor (from outside the University of Maryland) to the team.
There will also be some minor procedural changes in the review process. These primarily involve making the process more electronic. Submitting authors are now asked to include an electronic version of their paper on disc (in a Word or RTF file). This makes it possible to send a paper electronically to reviewers who live outside of the United States or to those who simply prefer this format. Reviewers are further asked to submit their reviews electronically, and all correspondence between reviewers, the submitting author, and the action editor are conducted via e-mail. The obvious advantage of making more of the review process electronic is that it removes some of the possible bottlenecks that can delay getting a decision and feedback to authors.
Two other changes in the review process have been implemented as well. …