open access scholarship

What's Old is New Again

Methodist Review as both scholarly tradition and digital pioneer

Vol. 12 No.2
Spring 2010

Return to Contents

Who owns your scholarship, and who can read it?
Open Access and the future of scholarly Publishing

Molecular Vision: One Journal's Journey

For More Information

Open Access Textbooks
Will Emory be a player or stay on the sidelines?

Digital Texts

Nurturing Accessible, High Quality Scholarship
Reflections on Ecology and Society

Spenser Goes Digital
An Open Access journal is free to the public but not free to produce

What's Old is New Again
Methodist Review as both scholarly tradition and digital pioneer

"We're clearly at a time of transition in the meaning of 'publication.' "

"We want to ensure that the results of original research are made widely accessible within the scientific community and beyond as quickly as possible."


Methodist Review: A Journal of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies is a peer-reviewed, Open Access electronic academic journal that publishes scholarly articles in all areas and eras of Wesleyan and Methodist studies broadly construed, including biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, social-scientific, biographical, ethical, and practical topics and methodologies.

Although the journal has just celebrated its first birthday as an Emory-based venture in Methodist scholarship, we would not be entirely accurate in characterizing Methodist Review as a completely "new" journal. Its digital format and blind peer-review policy are certainly new and very welcome. Methodist Review, however, is partly a successor to and partly a transformation of Quarterly Review, which was published jointly by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church and The United Methodist Publishing House for a quarter-century, from its founding in 1980 until its discontinuance in 2005. Behind Quarterly Review lies a rich literary-intellectual tradition that dates back to the establishment in 1818 of the Methodist Magazine, a North American Methodist effort to emulate John Wesley's own Arminian Magazine (begun in 1778). The American serial has continued since that date with only minor interruptions and under various names--The Methodist Magazine, Methodist Review, Methodist Quarterly Review, Religion in Life, Quarterly Review, and now, again, Methodist Review--as United Methodism and its predecessor denominations have sought to provide members, friends, and critics alike with intellectually engaged and theologically serious reflection and comment on important religious, cultural, social, and political matters. Methodist Review intends to continue and extend that tradition.

Methodist Review is sponsored and financially supported by Candler School of Theology, Emory University; the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools; and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church (GBHEM). The corporate office of The Methodist Review, Inc., the not-for-profit corporation that is the publisher of the journal Methodist Review, is located at GBHEM in Nashville; the Methodist Review editorial office is located at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. Technical support is provided by the Digital Systems division of the Emory University Libraries, where Methodist Review is hosted.

Those involved in the development of Methodist Review have a deep commitment to the Open Access digital publication of academic research and are convinced that an electronic journal delivered through the Internet, rather than a print journal delivered by post, will now best serve an increasingly global Methodist/Wesleyan academic audience. Digital documents can be delivered much more quickly and inexpensively than documents printed on paper, and they can be printed locally if necessary or desired. The generous financial support provided by its sponsors, along with the technical support provided by the Emory University Libraries, enable Methodist Review to provide immediate open access to its content at no cost to its readers, thus embodying the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge and ideas.

Doing so means that readers in Moscow or Manila or Mumbai may have access the content of the journal at the same time and on the same basis as readers in New York or Nashville or Nacogdoches. Visitors may view the Methodist Review website ( without registration, but a one-time, free user registration is required to complete the login process that is necessary to access the articles published in the journal.

Methodist Review is not published on a regular schedule, like a print journal. Instead, each annual volume of the journal coincides with a calendar year: Volume 1 (2009), Volume 2 (2010), etc. Articles are published as PDF files, meaning that everything about page design, layout, typography, fonts, etc., including pagination, can be controlled. The publication of an article in Methodist Review is thus disconnected from the restrictions of production of an issue of a print journal--any article can be as long or as short as it needs to be (within reason), and the publication of an article doesn't have to wait until there are enough other articles ready to make up a print journal issue of some defined number of pages. Instead, whenever a particular article is ready, it is published by being posted to the Methodist Review website; it will be added to the current volume, whatever that is, and paged consecutively with whatever other articles have already been published in the current volume. Registered users are notified by email when each new article is published.

Methodist Review publishes suitable and appropriate scholarly articles originating from anywhere in the world. Submission of articles by non-U.S. Methodist/Wesleyan scholars (whether resident in the U.S. or in other parts of the world) is actively encouraged. For practical reasons, however, Methodist Review is limited (at least initially) to the publication of articles in the English language. Authors receive no compensation for articles published in Methodist Review, but they do retain copyright ownership and all intellectual property rights to their work and are free to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (for example, posting it to an institutional website or publishing it in a book), in whole or in part, on the condition that its initial publication in Methodist Review is clearly acknowledged.

A rigorous, blind peer-review process helps to ensure the academic credibility of Methodist Review. To that end, Methodist Review has assembled a large editorial board of very highly qualified senior scholars, all of whom serve on a voluntary basis, to review and evaluate articles and advise the editors about their suitability for publication in the journal. The editorial board has been constituted so as to create an international community of scholarship and to foster intellectual exchanges and research agendas between and among the diverse denominations and peoples who share a spiritual ancestor in John Wesley. Editorial board members teach and write in the areas of American and Reformation history, pastoral care, theology, Biblical studies, ethics, polity, African theology, worship, philosophy, missiology, Wesley studies, and homiletics. Over half function in universities related to The United Methodist Church (Duke, Boston, Emory, Southern Methodist, Drew) or in United Methodist seminaries. Methodist Review's board also includes several members from African institutions, one from Germany, one from Russia, two from Latin America, and several from American institutions not related to the UMC. Eight of the twenty-five members of the current editorial board are persons of color, and ten are women.

Since beginning publication on 1 May 2009, Methodist Review has garnered 1,280 subscribers from across the world, representing a significant portion of global Methodism's academic cohort. We have published six essays (125 pages total). Submissions have been of high quality, and the peer-review system worked better than we could have dreamed, with strong essays getting hard-hitting critical attention and promising very fine resubmissions going forward. And we trust that younger scholars can now publish in Methodist Review and not suffer in the tenure and promotion process (in the past, careers have been hurt--or at least have not advanced--as a consequence of publishing in Methodist serials that were not peer reviewed and thus not considered legitimate scholarly publications). One worry that we do have is the Methodist Review's quality and peer-review policy may undercut or marginalize other journals that deal with Methodist and Wesleyan topics.

Russell Richey and Ted A. Campbell of Southern Methodist University serve as the co-general editors and Rex Matthews serves as the managing editor of Methodist Review.