History that packs a punch

We interviewed editor Brodie Waddell to get his insights on eighteenth century research and publishing in the Cultural and Social History journal (including a special Q&A from researcher Tyler Rainford).

In this interview, we speak with Brodie, the editor behind Tyler Rainford’s article Pro Bono Publico: Publicans, Punch, and Print in Eighteenth-Century London.

We find out more about Brodie’s decision-making process and what exactly drew him to Tyler’s research for it to make a permanent home in Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society. We also discover the topics Brodie would love to see more submissions for and his thoughts on open access (OA) research in social sciences and humanities (SSH) subjects.

Tyler published his article OA making it free to read for all. He was able to do this through the JISC agreement, between Routledge and UK institutions, which you can read more about here.

Headshot of Brodie Waddell, editor of Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society

Brodie Waddell, senior lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, and editor of Cultural and Social History: The Journal of the Social History Society.

          • Twitter: @Brodie_Waddell

          Please tell us a bit about yourself, your work, and why you chose to be an editor for this journal

          • I’m a historian based at Birkbeck, University of London, and my work focuses on the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. At the moment I’m researching the history of petitioning and of the writing practices of ordinary people at this time, but I have ranged across a variety of topics under the broad umbrella of ‘cultural and social history’.

            This journal has been part of my scholarly life from the very beginning of my career and I owe it a great debt. My very first article was published in Cultural and Social History in 2008 and that experience was a wonderfully positive one, with detailed but highly constructive suggestions for revisions from the readers and editor.

            I am particularly pleased to co-edit this journal because its role is vital to the scholarly ecosystem. It is important as a forum where early career researchers and the most prestigious scholars in the field both publish their work. The fact that it crosses the boundaries of period and geography is critical to generating fruitful scholarly reflection and discussion. Yet, I think that its ecumenical attitude to subfields and methodologies is even more important. To an outsider, it might seem like The Journal of the Social History Society would likely be a narrowly focused publication; however it has very effectively avoided any such narrowness.

          What does a typical day in the life of an editor look like?

          • Most of my time as editor is spent reading submissions, securing external reviewers, and determining next steps for particular submissions based on my own reading alongside that of the peer reviewers. There are many other parts of the job – such as corresponding with copyeditors, with representatives from the Society, etc. – but they take up considerably less time. It is a genuine privilege to be able to read cutting-edge work from historians before publication and it is always gratifying when we are able to publish exciting research from new scholars.

          What was it about Tyler’s article that appealed to you most? Why did it make a perfect fit for the journal?

          • When the first version of Tyler’s article arrived in my inbox, it already looked like something that might suit our journal. It was a close analysis of a set of fascinating sources that had received very little attention and, more importantly, it spoke to key debates about social relations, economic life, and urban culture in eighteenth-century London. As with most initial submissions, it needed to be revised and reworked somewhat in response to the peer reviews, but the end result was a great piece which really helps us understand society and culture in that period.

          A person holding their mobile phone over a text book with a vibrant coloured background.

          Is there a particular topic or area of study that you look forward to seeing submissions for? What do you want to see more of?

          • Since I began as editor in 2019, we have much expanded the number of pieces that we publish from the pre-1800 period, but I would certainly welcome even more! I am also very keen to encourage submissions that tackle theoretical or methodological questions. Although we are based in the UK, it has been wonderful to see more and more submissions focusing on other parts of the world and we are continuing this process of rebalancing our coverage.

          Why do you think publishing open access is important for the SSH fields?

          • Speaking from personal experience as both an editor and an author, I have found that unsurprisingly open access pieces simply have a much wider reach. They not only are read (and cited) by more scholars across the world, but they also often reach lay people who might otherwise miss out on the latest research in the field.

          What advice would you give SSH researchers who might be tentative to publish their research open access?

          • Open access practices have come a long way in a short period of time. Thanks to ‘read and publish’ agreements between universities and publishers, it is now often very simple and straightforward to make the published version of the article freely available to read.

          Tyler Rainford

          Want to hear from the researcher himself?

          We interviewed Tyler Rainford, history PhD candidate and author of Pro Bono Publico, to find out more about his article. He shares the inspiration behind his intoxicating research and why he is fascinated by self-fashioning and consumer behaviour.