From the JM Editor
New editor Ajay K. Kohli describes his intentions, and offers thoughts and opinions about the Journal of Marketing to authors, reviewers and readers
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© 2009, American Marketing Association
ISSN: 0022-2429 (print), 1547-7185 (electronic)
Journal of Marketing
Vol. 73 (January 2009), 1–2
From the Editor
It is a huge honor and responsibility to be asked to serve as the editor of Journal of Marketing (JM). I am grateful for the confidence placed in me and intend to discharge the responsibility to the very best of my ability.
Before anything else, I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary job Roland Rust has done over the last three years as editor of JM. The discipline owes him a huge debt of gratitude. Thanks to his efforts and those of the prior editors, JM is in great shape and enjoys a preeminent position as judged by measures such as circulation, citations, impact actor, and (low levels of) self-citations.
I am also grateful to Roland for helping make the editorial transition as smooth as anyone can hope for. A big thank you, Roland!
Moving forward, Siva Balasubramanian has very kindly agreed to continue as the JM Web editor. He has done a terrific job over the past several years and continues to push ahead vigorously. Thank you, Siva! Sandeep Krishnamurthy has agreed to serve as the book review editor. He is well versed with the job and has many innovative ideas for the future. Welcome and thank you, Sandeep!
I would like to take this opportunity to address a few points that are likely to be on your minds as authors, reviewers, and readers.
What Kind of Articles Is JM Looking to Publish?
Journal of Marketing is well positioned as the preeminent journal for substantive insights into marketing issues. I intend to continue to stress this focus. I welcome manuscripts that provide fresh insights into any topic in marketing. Reasonable people may disagree on what should be included or excluded from the domain of marketing, but I tend to take a broader rather than a narrower view.
The journal is most interested in manuscripts that provide truly innovative insights that have the potential to significantly change the behavior of one or more of JM’s major stakeholders (e.g., thoughtful practitioners, marketing academics, public policy makers, consumers). It is important for an article to contain actionable implications. The broader the appeal of an article, the greater the impact it is likely to have. A useful yardstick of a manuscript’s likely impact is, How much thinking and action on the part of how many people will likely change as a consequence of the research reported in the manuscript?
I intend to place a special premium on research that offers what I term “organic” or “indigenous” innovation. The marketing discipline shares conceptual and methodological ground with several other disciplines, such as economics, psychology, and sociology. To be sure, developments in other disciplines can help inform marketing issues. At the same time, I will strongly encourage organic (indigenous) innovation in marketing—that is, ideas, concepts, and theories that are new to the world, not just to marketing, and further our understanding of marketing issues.
There has been a sharp decline in conceptual articles in the discipline (MacInnis 2004). I view this as a matter of concern because a discipline’s vibrancy and stature are reflected in part in the new conceptual ground it breaks. I welcome conceptual articles that explore unchartered territories and offer interesting and useful new insights.
What is accepted for publication is significantly influenced by the reviewers of the research. That said, as editor, I am willing to encourage a paper that I believe is particularly interesting and useful, even if some reviewers are not favorably disposed toward it.
The journal is least interested in manuscripts that take up a lot of space eventually to conclude the obvious. Although the question of whether a finding or conclusion is obvious ultimately is admittedly a judgment call, a useful indicator is, Do reasonably well-informed people already believe the finding and/or conclusion to be true, or would they believe so after brief reflection?
The journal is open to any method (e.g., experiment, survey, archival data analysis, historical method) that provides for reliable conclusions. I believe that each method has its own strengths and limitations, and the choice of the method should be guided by the research question addressed. The key criterion is whether the method used can lead to confidence in the study’s findings or whether an alternative method is better for examining the focal research question.
It goes without saying that JM is interested in research that is rigorous. This is critical if there is to be confidence in the research conclusions. That said, I want to stress that in addition to being methodologically rigorous, the research must be conceptually rigorous as well. By conceptual rigor, I mean defining constructs clearly and precisely, using the same construct label (and definition) consistently throughout the paper, providing convincing and reasonable arguments in support of the research propositions, and stating them in a clear and testable way.
Finally, JM is not appropriate for manuscripts that are primarily focused on measurement or methodological issues. While such manuscripts are valuable in their own right, their fit is more appropriate for journals other than JM. As such, primarily methodological papers will be desk rejected.
Review Structure and Process
Journal of Marketing depends on its authors and reviewers. I am grateful to authors who submit interesting and useful manuscripts. I am also grateful to reviewers who provide timely, critical, and constructive reviews. It goes without saying that JM could not do without you, and I thank you very much for all your efforts!
I intend to retain the current review structure and process. With an increasing number of manuscript submissions, however, a time may come when JM may need to move to an associate editor structure. The Manuscript Central system has been designed with this in mind and will be able to accommodate the change readily.
Each manuscript is different. Depending on the manuscript, I will assign it to two to four reviewers. For the most part, I plan to make a positive or negative decision after the second round of reviews. I believe that it is not fair to authors or reviewers if a manuscript is dragged out any longer than this. This means that it is critical for an author invited to revise and resubmit a manuscript to do an extremely conscientious and thorough job of the revision.
The current editorial review board (ERB) members were invited on the basis of multiple criteria—their particular expertise, past service to the journal, research activity, and distribution across schools and geographies, among other criteria. I will add new members to the ERB depending on the needs of the journal. An important consideration in such appointments will be how well someone has served and continues to serve JM. On the flip side, if an ERB member is unable to fulfill his or her reviewing obligations, it would be entirely appropriate for him or her to step aside and make room for others.
If you are interested in serving as an ad hoc reviewer for JM but have not been invited to do so, please let me know. I will do my best to accommodate your interest. You may need to fill out a brief profile. (Please contact Chris Bartone at firstname.lastname@example.org for any assistance in this regard. He is a great resource, and the journal is indebted to him for all he does.)
A Few Suggestions for Authors
I hesitate even as I write this, but I want to make a few suggestions. I hope that these will be taken in the constructive spirit in which I provide them.
We have all probably received the advice to write clearly. Some of us are better at it than others. Good writing really makes a difference. It is not the job of an editor or the reviewers to decipher what an author means. It is the author’s responsibility to communicate clearly and in an interesting way. Consider using the services of a copy editor. A colleague puts it like this: If an author does not want to sell his or her ideas, why should a reader want to buy? Sweat the small stuff. Make one sentence flow to the next. Brutally excise redundant words, sentences, and even paragraphs. Shorter sentences are much better than longer ones. Like this one! And yes, shorter manuscripts are just fine. The reviewers appreciate them as well!
Frequently, authors do not make their unique and novel contributions explicit. They are probably obvious to the authors, but they may not be as obvious to readers. This can be frustrating. I recommend coming right out and presenting your substantive contributions boldly and explicitly in the abstract and in the first two or three pages of your manuscript. Present them using substantive rather than “shell” statements. What do I mean by this? Shell statements are about substance, but not substance itself. For example, the shell statement “We identify managerial implications of our research” says nothing about the substance of the implications. It is not very satisfying. A more enlightening (substantive) statement would be “Our research suggests that marketing managers should pursue hybrid distribution in fragmented markets but not in concentrated ones.”
Journal of Marketing is interested in providing substantive insights. Please emphasize substance throughout your manuscript—in the title, in the abstract, in the introduction, in the body, and in the conclusions.
A Few Suggestions for Reviewers
First, thank you for your hard work. I really appreciate it. Reviewing is an important responsibility. We benefit from it as authors, and as reviewers, we owe it to authors to provide them with timely, critical, and constructive comments.
Second, the journal’s charter is to appeal to the academic and thoughtful practitioner communities. Therefore, it is critical to ask whether a manuscript addresses an interesting and useful research question. It does not matter how well the research is executed if the core issue is obvious, mundane, or not actionable. Please do not lose sight of this fundamental criterion in the thick of evaluating the research execution.
I find reviewer evaluations most helpful when structured as follows: two or three major strengths and two or three major weaknesses, followed by constructive suggestions and detailed comments for authors to improve the paper (regardless of the recommended disposition of the manuscript). A two- to three-page, single-spaced review is adequate in most cases, and of course, returning reviews on time is critical. As authors, we expect timely feedback; as reviewers, we owe the same to authors.
The Globalizing World of Academic Publishing
As should be evident to even a casual observer, JM has become more international over the years. It has more articles by non-U.S. authors, and it has more non-U.S. reviewers contributing to its mission. This is to be celebrated. It can only make the journal better. I will continue to encourage manuscript submissions from all parts of the world.
I hope that these remarks are helpful. I would welcome your suggestions for making JM stronger. Thank you. I look forward to working with you!
AJAY K. KOHLI
MacInnis, Debbie (2004), “Where Have All the Papers Gone? Reflections on the Decline of Conceptual Articles,” ACR News, (Spring), 1–3.