Announcing the Launch of the Journal of Genealogy & Family History

A new, scholarly genealogy journal is about to be published by the Register of Qualified Genealogists, based in the United Kingdom. Here is the announcement:

jgfhLaunching in April 2017, the new Journal of Genealogy and Family History (JGFH) will address the current need for a high quality, peer reviewed publication, covering broad scholarly research in genealogy and family history in a 21st century online format. The journal will be offered to readers and contributors for free, on an open-access, non-commercial basis, with content available under a Creative Commons Attribution License. The scope of the journal will include any field or academic discipline associated with genealogy or family history research such as heraldry, demography, education and record conservation.

Articles will offer the reader insights into current thinking and practice and provide an outlet for theoretical and speculative ideas within genealogy and family history. Topics will be wide ranging, and include for example:

  • Family histories which demonstrate new and innovative approaches and analytic techniques;
  • Locational studies
  • The use of new technologies
  • Software applications and databases
  • The use of DNA analyses to better understand kinship
  • Ancestry and populations
  • Micro histories which may focus on personal, local, community and social histories.
  • Ethical and legal issues surrounding the practice of genealogy

The journal will attract authors from around the world who wish to have their genealogical and family history work published in a credible form and made available to anyone who chooses to read it. All articles submitted for publication will undergo anonymous peer review, which will provide a rigorous and robust process of close scrutiny.

The Editor, Jessica Feinstein, says: “I am very excited to be part of the great team involved in this venture, and look forward to enabling authors in our field to publish academic articles that will advance genealogical research in many areas.”

The editorial board will include prominent individuals from within the field of genealogy and family history as well as associated disciplines. The Journal of Genealogy and Family History is registered at the British Library with ISSN 2399-2964.

The journal was initiated and designed by the Register of Qualified Genealogists and will be published via their website at: http://www.qualifiedgenealogists.org/jgfh.

11 Comments

I wasn’t aware that there was a “current need for a high quality, peer reviewed publication, covering broad scholarly research in genealogy” with all the long-established and respected scholarly journals that already exist.

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What about the journals of the NEHGS, SOG, IGRS? The field seems pretty crowded already to merit the need for a competitor.

Isn’t it more likely that this new publication is more aimed at creating publicity for this new group of Qualified Genealogists, particularity as it is free?

I looked at this group’s website and it begs the question, what does Qualified Genealogists expect to achieve? It’s in direct competition with AGRA. How sad, but these days British professional genealogy is rife with argument and division.

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I’m not sure who replied to my post about the “Register of Qualified Genealogists” being based in the UK but it appeared to be from Dick Eastman. If so, I wasn’t thinking of North American scholarly journals only. The other person who commented mentioned SOG (Society of Genealogists) and IGRS (Irish Genealogical Research Society), both from the British Isles (where I am). There are many scholarly journals throughout the English-speaking world, as well as Continental Europe and (I presume) South America. There’s just no “need” for another.

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I prefer to keep an open mind, read the first few issues, and then judge if it merits my attention. I like to read intelligent informed articles from many sources including Great Britain. My motto since I was a small child: I must learn something new every day.

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Sally & Paul aren’t far off the mark. The Register of Qualified Genealogists is a clique set up to stick two fingers to the existing professional bodies. It’s attracting cranky genealogists who don’t make the grade with AGRA.

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It seems great. I just obtained for free a copy of “Applied Genealogy” by the late Eugene A. Stratton, the former Historian General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, among a pile of books that the local genealogy library was discarding! In any case, it was a humbling experience, and realized that most blogs don’t depict the type of hard research used by genealogy masters. So I am really excited about this journal online!

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It is the case that there are many genealogical magazines. The Journal of Genealogy and Family History is not competing in that market (I speak as its deputy editor). There are few scholarly journals. A key characteristic of scholarly journals is their use of peer-review. This is where two or more experts in the field read and provide critical reviews of any paper submitted to the journal. They recommend whether the paper should be accepted and provide feedback to the author, including requests for improvement where that is deemed necessary. In the case of JGFH a double-blind approach is used where reviewers do not know the identity of the author and the author does not get to know who the reviewers were.
Peer-review is an important mechanism to ensure the quality, value and credibility of material being published, unlike in magazines where no such close scrutiny takes place.
The United States has long been fortunate in having four distinguished journals, though only two that wholeheartedly embrace peer-review:
The National Genealogical Society Quarterly is a user of peer-review as is
The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.
The American Genealogist is a little vague and uses review “by the TAG editorial board and outside reviewers when appropriate”;
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register uses editorial review.
They do however tend to concern themselves narrowly with things American.
Before this year there have been no journals in English-speaking Europe using peer-review.
The Genealogists’ Magazine of the Society of Genealogists, though a distinguished magazine, is limited to editorial review.
Peer-review is being used at Genealogy, published from Switzerland, whose first articles appeared in January. It may carry conventional genealogy papers but its principal focus is on genealogy as a term used by philosophers. If you have a particular interest in Nietsche or Foucault then it is for you.
The Journal of Genealogy and Family History is peer-reviewed and adopts a broad world-view, being interested in material (in English) from any country. It is attempting something new and challenging and unlike the comments in this blog’s responses we’ve received a deluge of supportive messages since announcing it. The website and Facebook have been humming. If we can build on this positive feeling there will be wonderful times ahead.
Open access is central to the aims of the Journal. It is also free to readers and to authors – important considerations if openness is to be taken seriously. The Journal is not a commercial venture. We aim to provide a service to the international genealogical community and we hope that through peer-review we can deliver high quality, credible material that will serve to raise standards in the discipline.

Ian Macdonald

PS To pick up on a parochial point, I must say that RQG does not see itself as ‘competing’ with AGRA, as Sally suggests, or with any other genealogical body. Indeed RQG is happy to have its members belong to however many genealogical organisations they see fit. Clearly there are differences. RQG is a body with an international membership and global interests (so does it also ‘compete’ with APG?). As I understand it AGRA is a local body concerned with England and Wales. Where has this myth of competition come from?

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It’s notable that Ian MacDonald claims so much positive feedback, but yet virtually the only traceable comment in public has been negative. This forum is not the only one in which Ian has had to defend RQG. See also his comments made in reply to Debbie Kennett: https://cruwys.blogspot.ie/2017/02/launch-of-journal-of-genealogy-and.html?m=1

In it, Ian’s lengthy defence of peer review says more about his view on existing academic journals than it does to promote his argument.

Any amount of denying that RQG isn’t set to undermine the existing professional organisations just won’t wash. As already claimed above, its just a clique formed by a small number of disgruntled individuals with axes to grind – and that’s a observation made through peer review!!!

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    Thank you Reggie for that thoughtful piece. I’m pleased to say that we are growing steadily and the numbers are now significantly higher.

    However, Dick’s audience outside England must be baffled by some of the comment here. For some odd reason there are people in that country who wish to deny the right of the Register of Qualified Genealogists to exist. It is an unattractive feature, but there you are. RQG on the other hand has not been set up to ‘compete’ with any other organisation. It serves the need of a particular set of members – those with exceptional commitment who have been prepared to devote a huge amount of their time and effort over two or three years to gaining the highest level of qualification the genealogical world has to offer. They share an ethos of commitment to the highest standards. However, we respect the rights of other organisations with different characteristics and are pleased for our members who take the opportunity to belong to more than one.
    Sally doubts the positive feedback, and that is her right, but the 1300 who have done so in the past ten days speak directly to us at the Journal and not to a relatively anonymous blogsphere. For all those who have shown interest I offer my thanks. For those who have yet to check it out then http://www.qualifiedgenealogists.org/jgfh is the place to look.
    Ian Macdonald

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I think it is rather sad that some individuals can be so vehemently opposed to any organisation that respects the field of genealogy and tries to improve the standards of researchers. It is however the way the world seems to be heading, with people quick to judge and be very negative, rather than praise the good in the world. Perhaps it is based on jealousy or a fear that they cannot be part of it.

With regards to the RQG being clique – where does that come from? According to the numbers of RQG members who have profiles, they have over 40 full members, not bad since they have only been running for a year. AGRA on the other had have been with us for many years but still only have about 100 members, and some of these are RQG members. At least you know what the qualifications are for RQG – an official university qualification at a grade that is higher than an ordinary degree.

Why are RQG members cranky or disgruntled – what axes have they to grind? Do you know any of them? They, and many others who are members of AGRA and APG, have studied for at least two years full time at University Masters level, and probably whilst trying to run a genealogy business, and a family as well. At least these courses are all done online so anyone can do them, not just those in one country. Surely this should be applauded not condemned, or are you against people with qualifications?

In today’s world even car mechanics and some office workers are expected to have a degree, why should the profession of genealogy be any different? I do not know the situation in America, but in the UK the same occupation can be covered by different trade unions, but no one complains about one being cliquey or trying to undermine the others.

Personally I would rather use a qualified genealogist who has experience of a wide range of different documents covering different parts of the world, than a hobbyist who thought it would be fun to make money researching trees for other people. At least with organisations such as AGRA, APG and now RQG, we can be sure we are employing someone who knows what they are doing.

It is clear that you can never please all of the people all of the time, and some people have such engrained bias they will never accept anything new or different.

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I think this is great and it is free! The more journals and learning options, the better.

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