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Interview with Dave Kaplan

Dave Kaplan is Editor of Geographical Review which is joining Routledge from 2020, published on behalf of the American Geographical Society.

In this interview he explains a bit about his background, his vision for the journal, and the purpose of the American Geographical Society.


Q: Tell us a little about your academic and professional background

A: I have a Masters and PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Geography, though my Bachelor’s degree (from Johns Hopkins) was in English and History.  Since then, I have worked in universities and have been at Kent State University since 1995.  I am also a longtime editor of another Routledge journal entitled National Identities, with which I have been involved since its inception in 1999.

Q: How did you first get involved with Geographical Review?

A: Since I began with my first geography course, I have known about the Geographical Review.  It is probably among the 5 or so best known geography journals in the world.  I have also published in the GR and so long had positive feelings about it.  I was nominated to become a Councilor of the American Geographical Society in 2014 and then, not long thereafter, was asked if I would be interested in becoming the editor-in-chief of the journal. 

Q: What do you think is the main aim of Geographical Review? What differentiates the journal from others in its field?

A: The main aim for me is to bring the GR back to a position it has held for most of its tenure: as one of the top journals in geography. To that end, my key job for an editor is to increase the visibility, impact, and perceived value of the GR among geographers.

In terms of what differentiates the GR, I can list four:

  1. the GR is by far the oldest geography journal in the United States and has long held the position of high regard. This means that it can still draw from a pool of well-respected scholars who have an affection for the Journal.
  2. It is among the few truly comprehensive geography journals. Within the United States, only the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, The Professional Geographer and the Geographical Review cover the entire field.  Other journals are more specialized.   So if somebody would like to reach out to all geographers, their choices are limited to these three journals. 
  3. The GR has long been known to publish strong empirical studies with high production values. When people consider the GR, I believe they have this in mind and again this allows the GR to separate itself out from some of the other journals in the field. 
  4. The GR is widely available, well known, and is likely to remain on the subscription lists of most Geography Departments.

Q: Which recent Geographical Review articles do you think best engage with these topics?

A: It is really hard to pick just one.  Here are few I have highlighted:

Forum on the Anthropocene
Susy Ziegler, Paul Robbins, Ken Young, and Ted Steinberg (2019)

Infidelity and the Internet: The Geography of Ashley Madison Usership in the United States
Michael L. Chohaney and Kimberly A. Panozzo (2018)

Children's Geographies: Tracing The Evolution and Involution of a Concept
Stuart C. Aitken (2018)

Man and Nature: George Perkins Marsh and Alexander Von Humboldt
Andrea Wulf (2017)

A database for depicting Arctic sea ice variations back to 1850
John E. Walsh, Florence Fetterer, J. Scott Stewart, and William L. Chapman (2017)

Migration and Development? The Gendered Costs of Migration on Mexico's Rural “Left Behind”
Rebecca M. Torres and Lindsey Carte (2016)

Oil Spills and Community Resilience: Uneven Impacts and Protection in Historical Perspective
Craig E. Colten, Audrey A. Grismore, and Jessica R. Z. Simms (2015)

High Points: An Historical Geography of Cannabis
Barney Warf (2014)

Q: What kinds of research are you looking forward to publishing? Which research topics do you think are of particular interest to the research community at the current time?

A: As a general interest geography journal, we look for articles that can appeal to an academic and professional audience, but a broader audience.  The article should be written in such a way that it is well written, accessible, while also being quite rigorous.

Q: Who is the American Geographical Society aimed at, and why should geographers consider a membership?

A: The AGS is the oldest geography association in the US and the one association that brings together professionals from academic, business and government.  Its mission is the promotion of geography in all realms, from K-12 education through the highest levels of the industry.  One of the primary goals is to advance geographical literacy for everybody to ensure better policy making.  The AGS also includes a number of programs.  I would direct interested readers to www.americangeo.org.

Q: Do you have any advice for early career researchers in geography?

A: My advice would be to publish your work as soon as you can.  If you are a new PhD, publish you Masters work.  If you are a new faculty member, publish your PhD research as quickly as possible.  But before you submit, make sure your paper has something original.  It is hard to publish what are essentially literature reviews.  Much easier to publish pieces that report on primary research.  Also, make sure to clearly state the value added of your research.  How does this contribute to a concept or theory?  Well known more general journals are great because they help introduce you to a broad swath of geographers.  As editor, I promise to provide swift and meaningful feedback on your submission.  My pledge continues to be 49 days from submission to decision.