DOAJ voices

The story behind the journal: Early Modern Low Countries

Journal cover of Early Modern Low Countries. The cover background is a light pink, and the title has a black banner.
Journal cover of Early Modern Low Countries

The journal Early Modern Low Countries is an open access journal based in the Netherlands and run by the non-profit Foundation Early Modern Low Countries. As part of our ‘Story behind the journal’ series, DOAJ spoke with Dr. David van der Linden, the managing editor.

Tell us about the Early Modern Low Countries journal

Early Modern Low Countries was established a little over seven years ago, as a collaborative addition between the Werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw (Workgroup on the Seventeenth Century) and the Werkgroup Achttiende Eeuw (Workgroup on the Eighteenth Century). The aim was to bring the subject area to the next level, and create a dedicated space for scholars of the history of the Low Countries between 1500 and 1850. We pride ourselves on being an interdisciplinary journal, and publish across disciplines, like religious history, art history, literary history, and socio-economic history. The journal publishes in English, to make research on the Low Countries more accessible and discoverable to anyone around the world. 

The journal is an open access journal without publishing fees, published via the Openjournals platform. We take special care to include early career scholars, as they rely on getting articles published in English to obtain grants and to further their careers. The journal also aims to cater to early career researchers, so we do get submissions from PhD students and sometimes even very ambitious Master students. We also produce special issues and invite scholars to review books. These reviewers all have a PhD, and are usually more established. 

How did you get involved with the journal, and what motivates you to be a managing editor?

I started as a managing editor around 5 years ago, after being asked by members on the editorial board. At the time, they needed someone to help assist the team. We are a small team, with around ten of us in total.

In terms of what motivates me, I really enjoy reading and editing the journal. Every day I spend some time on it, and I enjoy working in the field. You get to know a lot of people, and I think it is a great opportunity to have conversations with them. 

We also offer additional support, especially for PhD students. We often find that their research is interesting and has potential, but that the manuscript would not pass peer- review. Many journals might just reject the manuscript, and that’s the end of it, but we offer these authors guidance, which makes the article better and allows for a personal connection with the author. I am proud of what they produce in the end, and they are really satisfied with the services we offer.

How does the journal make a difference in the subject field or region? 

We are an open access journal with no fees. Open access is increasingly important due to Plan S and funder requirements to make research open – if you get a grant, you have to publish in open access. Many national governments have followed suit: the Dutch government also adopted Plan S, as I know the UK government has. Many journals charge to publish open access, and these fees can be excessive, which we don’t think should be the case. Our processing fee is 0, which enables early career researchers with limited or no access to funds to publish with us. 

Based on our journal statistics, I can see that we have a lot of views and downloads. There also is no other research journal that focuses solely on the Low Countries. We have created a single and international platform that people know about, which I think that has been extremely helpful in terms of making research in the Low Countries more visible.

You also mentioned that you work to support early career scholars through the journal.

Yes, because when I started my own PhD, nothing like that existed. It is good to change that, and to help the entire field move forward. 

What are your personal views on open access?

I think it is a good thing to have. The downside is that it costs money, and that I have concerns for the future: what if the funding runs out ? I think many journals – especially in the humanities, where print is still common – have discussions around open access. If they go fully open access, readers may no longer want to be a member, because what are they getting out of it? This puts funding at risk, and then what do you do? Open access is great, but governments should also put their money where their mouth is, and that is not always the case. That’s why I think money is the main concern: how do you fund open access over the next few decades?

What was the motivation for Early Modern Low Countries to apply to DOAJ?

We wanted to be searchable and discoverable. Being part of DOAJ also means you are serious about open access: you don’t just claim to be an open access journal, someone has actually vetted you and confirmed your claim. I think being indexed has helped us, because when I look at our statistics, the views go up every month, and every year we are publishing better and better research. Registration with DOAJ has definitely given us a boost. 

This story is a part of our series about journals indexed in DOAJ, which digs into the history of selected journals, their views on open access and their motivation for and experience of getting indexed in DOAJ. Each story is based on an interview with a representative of the selected journal. 

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