Courtesy of the Brandon Sun’s Westman This Week.
By Chelsea Kemp
The Journal of Rural and Community Development has secured three years of renewed funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The journal, which is published by the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Brandon University (BU), will receive $88,200 — $29,400 annually for the next three years. The grant is provided by the Aid to Scholarly Journals program through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Since its founding in 2005, the journal has stuck to its original mandate to provide open access to scholarly researched articles, said editor Doug Ramsey, a professor in the department of rural development at BU.
“It’s a map of the world, and it’s the entire range of rural images you can imagine,” Ramsey said. “It’s really exciting.”
Rural development is a broad mandate, Ramsey said. The core piece is an article featured in the journal must have a connection to either rural places or small communities. He added the majority of articles tie into agriculture and mining based on primary resource economies in these contexts.
“Beyond that, it can be really anything — it could be regional comparisons. It could be issues of resource dependency which can include agriculture … it really does become the interest of the people that submit.”
The funding secured for the next three years will support the salaries of a journal assistant who finds reviewers for papers and copy editors. The funds will also allow the journal to translate titles and abstracts into French, Ramsey said, a critical achievement for a Canadian academic journal.
“We’re really becoming a truly Canadian journal in that respect with both official languages.”
Looking to the future, Ramsey said, he has several goals for the journal, including the addition of more work that addresses Indigenous rights from around the world and more work from emerging and remote nations.
“They are completely underrepresented in the mainstream publishing and academia at this point,” Ramsey said. “It is important to give them a platform.”
For years, scholars from western nations and universities have been conducting research in emerging and remote nations, Ramsey said. While this work can be important, it is essential to hear from the people within these nations to ensure they can share their research and perspectives.
This philosophy is also being applied to the journal’s editorial board — some new members hail from outside western nations, and it is gender-equal.
Their unique perspective adds new flavours to the journal, he said, explaining editorial board members can provide feedback on submissions aiding in the quality of work submitted and the breadth of topics included in the publication.
“I’m hoping that they’ll provide input on how we can better engage Indigenous scholars in those regions,” Ramsey said. “That voice is super important to have — we want to really hear the voice of those farmers, about issues about access to land and drought mitigation and those kinds of things.”
The original rationale for the publication of the journal was to provide a venue for academics to publish findings in development studies falling within rural and small community contexts, he said, paired with the desire to achieve an international audience of readers and authors from beyond academia and beyond.
The journal has valued and upheld this mandate since its inception in 2005, he said.
As of May 31, 2021, 440 peer-reviewed articles have been published in 47 issues.
Registered users of the open-access journal have grown from 473 in 2008 to 8,875 in 2021. Last year alone saw 4,401 new users register for the journal and users from 181 countries visiting the online resources.
The journal issues are published in two ways — a regular issue featuring topics tied to rural development from around the world and special issues that focus on specific topics and synthesize article submissions together.
“When it’s a regular issue, I actually don’t pay a lot of attention to how each one may or may not link because it really is first past the post,” Ramsey said. “If your article is ready and it’s gone through the process and been copy edited when it’s time to publish that issue, those articles go in.”
The timing of article publications is critical because authors may be eager to get new research out into the world, he said, and it may directly impact researchers’ careers and professional development.
The conversation around rural development is in constant flux, he said, and this can be seen in the articles featured in the journal.
“It’s evolved in many ways, and some of it quite frankly is the term or the concept of the day. What we’re hearing a lot about now is resilience and the resilience communities have in the face of change,” Ramsey said. “It’s really become a big buzzword in the post-COVID era.”
Issues of the Journal of Rural and Community Development can be found at Journals.BrandonU.ca/jrcd.