In May 2017, the Journal of Genetic Genealogy renewed publication with a new issue after an extended hiatus. You can find the articles in the latest issue of the journal here. This event is a great opportunity to learn a bit about what goes into publishing in a scientific journal.
As an “open access” journal, the articles are free for you to read. At most journals, open-access articles are supported by the authors, meaning they pay for the publication costs to make the paper free to their readers. Because JoGG has a volunteer staff, our authors do not have to pay fees to have their articles considered. Some authors try their best to ensure that their journal or book is accessible to their readers and that it is easy to read and understand. Some authors often use a Proofreader to make sure that their writing is perfect and free from errors, so their reader can enjoy their book without issue.
First, let’s take a look at what’s in the Fall 2016 issue of the Journal, which came out in May 2017. (Note that production was behind schedule. Getting the journal back up and running after 5 years had a steep learning curve!)
The first thing you see beneath the JoGG logo are our two reports: “Y-DNA Testing of a Paper Trail – The Fox Surname Project” by Joseph M. Fox III and David E. Fox, and “Evidence of early gene flow between Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jewish Europeans in mitochondrial DNA haplogroup H7” by Doron Yacobi and Felice L. Bedford. Reports present new knowledge in a scientific way, meaning that the initial problem(s) to be solved is clearly defined and evidence and logic are used to draw conclusions. In both reports, that evidence includes both DNA data and historical information. The format also generally adheres to a pattern: an Abstract that summarizes the paper, an Introduction that lays out the question and the background knowledge needed to understand it, the Methods used to collect the data, the Results of the research, and a Discussion of what those results mean in terms of answering of the original questions.
The two reports highlight JoGG‘s diversity. Our authors are citizen scientists (Joe Fox and David Fox) and academics (Doron Yacobi and Felice Bedford). They address genealogical questions both recent and ancient, using yDNA, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA. They may use the traditional format for a scientific paper (Introduction–Methods–Results–Discussion) or a more flexible organization that better suits their study. But always, the scientific approach is apparent: pose a question and use evidence to draw conclusions.
What differentiates a Report from the other content in the Journal is peer review, the process of having knowledgable peers in the community critique the work before it is published. When a paper is submitted to the journal, an editor makes an initial evaluation of whether it is a good fit for the journal and whether the basic study was sound. Then, the paper is sent to two or more “referees”, who carefully read the paper and write an evaluation of its strengths and weakness, ideally with suggestions for improvement. If the referees and the editor agree that the paper is publishable, the authors respond to the reviewers’ comments by making the recommended changes or by explaining why they don’t think the suggestions are appropriate. This back-and-forth serves to improve the quality of the paper before it is published. Referees are anonymous to the authors, although they can sign their reviews if they like.
The Journal also publishes invited editorials by leaders in the field of genetic genealogy (in this issue, CeCe Moore on the history of unknown parentage searches and Blaine Bettinger on his Shared cM Project), reviews of books and products, and regular columns by Ann Turner and the Editor. These contributions do not go through peer review.
If you would like to submit a paper for consideration by JoGG, please see the Instructions for Authors. The journal always welcomes volunteers to conduct peer review and to copyedit papers that have been accepted for publication. This is a great opportunity to learn about research in genetic genealogy before anyone else does! If you’re interested or know someone who might be, you can email me (the Editor) at jogg (at) isogg.org with information about your areas of expertise.