Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Frontiers in Digital Humanities publishes research “from Digital History to Big Data, providing a community platform for the Humanities in the digital age.” It is a multidisciplinary open-access journal with articles “in all the research areas where computer science and the humanities intersect, with the aim to bring all relevant Digital Humanities areas together on a single, open-access platform.” Specialty sections in the journal include Big Data, Cultural Heritage Digitization, Digital Archaeology, Digital Architecture, Digital History, Digital Literary Studies, Digital Musicology, Digital Paleography and Book History, Digital Scholarship, and Human-Media Interaction. There are 8 listed Specialty Chief Editors, two of whom are women (I mention this because the journal started with an all-male board) and 21 Associate Editors, approximately 2/3 of whom are male. More about this gender breakdown later.
At the time of this review the journal notes there are “695 on board editors” while there are 40 online articles published since December 2014. Twenty-two of these are classified as Original Research articles, three are reviews, six are listed as Specialty Grand Challenge Articles, one is a Methods piece, two are Technology Reports, four are Hypothesis and Theory articles, one is an Opinion piece, and one is a Field Grand Challenge piece. Most recently published are, “Using Semantic Linking to Understand Persons’ Networks Extracted from Text” (published 16 November 2017), “#Halal Culture on Instagram” (published 2 November 2017), and “Aspects of Tempo and Rhythmic Elaboration in Hindustani Music: A Corpus Study” (published 31 October 2017). The editor and reviewers for each are listed at screen left, along with the table of contents. At screen right are buttons for downloading the article and exporting the citation, as well as the total number of views, an announcement of the Second annual Frontiers Spotlight Award for 2018, buttons for sharing on social media, and a “People also looked at” window linking to articles in other Frontiers journals (this appears to be a random list serving to advertise other Frontiers titles).
The journal is listed in the DOAJ as having article processing charges. Upon further examination I discovered that the article processing charges for this open access humanities journal range from $450 to $950, depending upon the type of article submitted (for example, for an Original Research article the APC is $950, for an Opinion piece the APC is $450). That’s a pretty hefty fee for a journal in the humanities that’s open access, IMHO.
This made me curious, so I did a bit of web searching and found a number of online pieces that have appeared since Frontiers in Digital Humanities started being published, including: “Why I do not trust Frontiers journals, especially not @FrontDigitalHum,” by Melissa Terras (in this piece Professor Terras discussed in 2015, how “all the Senior Editors in Frontiers in DH [were] male” at that time – in the interim two female Specialty Chief Editors have been appointed; “My collapse of confidence in Frontiers journal,”; “Is Frontiers in Trouble?”; and “The OA Interviews: Kamila Markram, CEO and Co-Founder of Frontiers,” by Richard Poynder,
Given the small number of articles here, along with the relatively high APCs (the second consideration may well have a significant influence on the first) I’m inclined to suggest scholars consult titles such as Digital Humanities Quarterly, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, or Digital Studies for research about digital humanities studies at this point.