Oxfordian Writer’s Guidelines
The following guidelines are presented so that you can form a clear picture of what we are looking for, but they are intended as guidelines only. We area small community and have no desire to eliminate any work that has the potential to be informative and entertaining because it has failed to follow some rule.
The primary purpose for which The Oxfordian was created was to provide a forum for in-depth articles too long for a newsletter and too short for a book, and to that end, we solicit submissions of articles of between 3500 and 30,000 words. An article shorter than 3500 words should be sent to the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter.
Our publishing schedule:
The Oxfordian is published once a year, in the fall. Submission of articles can take place any time. The reviewing is generally done in the late spring. The formatting is done over the summer. At present there is, for economic reasons, a limit to the number of pages we can publish, but we have hopes that in years to come it will reach a substantial size. At this time we generally publish somewhere between six and eight articles a year.
What we are looking for:
We are primarily interested in articles that deal with the authorship question from an Oxfordian perspective. We are interested in anything that informs our investigation of the truth surrounding the writing and publishing of the Shakespeare canon and other written works of the period, an extremely broad field of inquiry. We are primarily interested in articles that present facts, whether well known or little known, in a rational and orderly fashion, backed by citations of reliable sources, that help to create an accurate picture of the Elizabethan era for our readers and that provide a background that helps to connect Oxford with the works of Shakespeare. The emphasis should be on the presentation of facts. The ratio of fact to supposition should be roughly 80% to 20%, with the facts marshaled well in advance of any conjectures.
We also consider opinion pieces, shorter articles that make a case for a particular point of view. These can rely on fewer citations (or none) and are generally accepted for their style and entertainment value. We are also delighted to consider anything humorous and are always looking for book reviews and letters to the editor.
Crucial facts should be supported by citations from works other than those by the Ogburns or Millers. These important scholars have contributed immensely to our knowledge of the authorship question, but their assertions cannot always be verified and so must be backed up by solid citations from other sources. As much as is possible, verify their sources and use those sources. If they give no sources or those sources can’t be verified, seek a solid second source. If you can find nothing to back up an assertion and still feel you must make it, qualify it in some way. (This is relative only to assertions that are fundamental to
credibility; it is not necessary, or even desirable, to burden every little point with citations.)
Like any group that is in pursuit of an elusive truth, the Oxfordian community is rife with theories and rivalries. Articles that promote controversial ideas and that manage to abide by the 80/20 principle (above) will be reviewed by the entire board, with acceptance based on the majority opinion. The editor felt it necessary to keep controversy at a minimum until the journal was established. We should be able to open this up with the fourth issue, but controversial or not, articles must be based on a coherent set of verifiable facts whose connection and relevance can be perceived by any reader.
MLA (Modern Language Association) Format:
We follow the MLA format which has become standard with literary journals. It is a simple and logical format and is easily perceived by examining an article with citations from a previous edition of The Oxfordian. We are thrilled to get articles that are already formatted according to MLA, but can reformat ourselves if the information we need is present. There are inexpensive paperback books on MLA guidelines available through bookstores or amazon.com, and the guidelines can also be found on the internet at MLA.org.
Our policy is to modernize the spelling and punctuation in most quotations from early sources. Occasionally something must be left as is for a particular reason, but where the spelling itself has no bearing on the purpose of the article, modernizing allows the reader to understand the material more quickly. An exception might be where a document is reproduced in full that has not yet been published anywhere else as it then becomes important to have it published as close to possible as the original. In general we use American spelling but in quotations and inserts from books or articles by English writers, will retain their spelling.
Our policy follows MLA in using very few abbreviations. We spell out sixteenth century, numbers under a hundred, and so forth. We prefer to refer to Shakespeare by his full name, not The Bard, and Edward de Vere as Oxford or de Vere The Seventeenth Earl is an mouthful and should be used sparingly; most readers will understand which Earl of Oxford is meant.
What we require from you:
When your article has been accepted we will need from you 1) a sheet containing your personal information (included here); 2) a list of agreements signed by you (also included); 3) a Publication Agreement and Assignment of Copyright; and 4) a brief
biographical statement to be published along with your article. A look at previous journals will show you some examples of the writer’s bio. Once the journal has been published you will receive three copies of the journal for yourself.
We ask you to sign and return a copy of the list of agreements and Publication Agreement and Assignment of Copyright only to prevent the anguish of misunderstandings during the process of publishing. Experience has shown that we need to take precautions before such problems arise, not after. Please be assured that we are more than willing to work with all our writers to achieve a high level of excellence, one of which writer and editor can both be proud. As the writer, you will always have the final call on all decisions of language and wording.
Blind peer review:
The Oxfordian is a peer-reviewed journal, which means that submissions are read in a blind review process by two or more members of the editorial board. Blind means that the reviewer and the writer remain unidentified to each other. Such a process ensures the most fair and equable method of deciding what to publish. Writers may get a copy of their reviews if they wish. These reviews, together with other considerations such as length of the piece, general composition of the journal for that edition, whether there are other articles on the same subject, number of submissions already accepted, determine whether the article will be published or not.
Like all publications, The Oxfordian has standards for the material it publishes. Some of these are common standards of style, mechanics, and presentation, while others relate to the specific needs of the Oxfordian. Editing is done purely to assist the writer in presenting the material in such a way that the reader will easily understand what is being said. Eight out of ten submissions require some degree of editing, some require a great deal. It is expected that a writer who submits work to The Oxfordian will work willingly with the editor to achieve a result pleasing to both. Some articles require a certain amount of editing before going out for review in order to improve their chances of being accepted. Ninety-eight percent of all editing is done before the article is formatted, but some two percent may take place during formatting for purposes of copy-fitting. All changes will be discussed with the writer before publication.
When you wish material returned to you:
Hard copy, disks, original photos and illustrations, will be returned to you if you include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for their return. If not, please don’t expect them to be returned.
How to submit articles:
To be accepted for submission, articles must be submitted on a disk and/or as an email attachment. It is helpful to have hard copy as well in case the disk version doesn’t translate well. If hard copy alone is submitted for preliminary review, the writer must be prepared to send along a disk if asked so that review copies can be prepared from it.
Hard copy should be in 12 point Courier type or a similar easy to read font, double spaced, pages numbered, with titles in italics or underlined and with the author’s name on only a title page, not on any of the text pages. We can make photocopies from such hard copy for the reviewers. However, hard copy that is in type that is too small or too large, that is in an odd font, that is single-spaced, has proofreader’s marks on it or other problems, cannot be used for review, nor can the editor take the time to retype such a submission. An article on disk can be quickly formatted properly and printed out for reviewers.
The version that is submitted on disk should be in a common font such as Courier or Times Roman in a standard word processing program such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect. The formatting is done on a Mac, but we can translate from DOS to Mac. Please do not use any formatting beyond the normal indents and tabs. Please do not use more than one font or point size. Please do not bold headlines, create tables or use any of the more elaborate formatting in your word processing program, as this simply has to be removed for formatting for publication. If charts or tables are included, please include a printed (or hand drawn) copy with your hard copy version.
We are glad to take preliminary submissions by way of email or attachments to email.
Again, these are guidelines only. Please understand that we are glad to take submissions of any quality piece of Oxfordian scholarship in whatever form they come to us and are willing to work out most problems as we go along.
If you have further questions, please email the editor.