Arts and Humanities Journal Alternation Among Best in SA

Editor of Alternation, Professor Johannes Smit.Editor of Alternation, Professor Johannes Smit.

The Alternation – Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Arts and Humanities in Southern Africa, was recently judged 17th best out of 276 accredited peer-reviewed journals assessed in South Africa.

Alternation is headed by its founding editor Professor Johannes A. Smit of the College of Humanities.

In order to ascertain the quality of the peer-reviewed journals published in South Africa, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) instituted a process where all journals in all disciplines were reviewed.

On Alternation, the review finding was – among others – that Alternation publishes ‘a good sample of the best work done in the country in the different disciplines’.

The review panel was led by renowned academic in research theory and methodology, Professor Johan Mouton.

College Dean for Teaching & Learning Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa said: ‘This is excellent news. We thank Professor Smit for his continued leadership in promoting scholarship at UKZN. The ranking of the Alternation Journal by ASSAF brings honour and prestige to the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics; the College and the University.’

Speaking about the journal, Smit said: ‘Due to its interdisciplinary nature, Alternation is an important journal for the Arts and Humanities, and is at the forefront of knowledge production and knowledge and research transformation. Virtually all its publications are contextually-relevant and impact academia transformatively – they are productively used by scholars, students and teachers alike.’

Founded as a peer-review journal in 1994, during the year of the country’s first democratic elections, Alternation was accredited with the former Department of Education two years later.

Under the leadership of Smit, the journal has grown from strength to strength over the past 20 years. An indication of its popularity with researchers is that it received over 100 000 hits in its first year in 2012 when it started to publish on an open access platform.

Over the years Alternation has developed an efficient guest editor system bringing together research groups working on a specific topically-relevant theme. Some groups are attached to annual research colloquia or conferences, whereas others function as research seminars that meet on a regular basis.

These forums already provide platforms for feedback to researchers who make presentations at these events with mentoring also taking place. When the process comes to close – which could take between one and five years, the papers are put through the regular review process before publication.

‘As with its research groups, the Alternation review process is a very empowering process, in that even when papers are not accepted, we still provide feedback so that authors can continue to improve their papers – if there is a possibility for this,’ said Smit.

‘Alternatively, they are provided feedback to improve on the paper and to resubmit for review and publication, after the feedback has been dealt with in the paper.’

Some of Alternation’s highlights include issues that were published with collaborators across university disciplines related to education, the social sciences, language studies, literature, religion, information science, and even management studies.

Together with the guest editor team, Smit plans to continue with the publication of Alternation in its current system and format.

Alternation is published at least twice per year, together with special issues, and is currently hosted on a UKZN open access platform. Back issues can be accessed at: http://alternation.ukzn.ac.za/archive

Melissa Mungroo