Publishing in Education (or, Non-Sociology) Journals

Q: For sociologist of education, is it wise to publish in education journals?  Do sociology departments value these journals in the same way as they would sociology journals (i.e., for hiring and/or tenure)?

 Author: Chandra Muller, University of Texas Muller

If you think about it, almost every theorist you studied in your classical theory course conducted research on education (Weber, Durkheim, Marx, for instance) because of the centrality of education to sociology. However, sociology departments are typically composed of faculty members who have interests that may or may not be related to education.  This means a sociologist of education must establish the sociological legitimacy of his or her research to get hired and tenured in a sociology department. It is typically easier to do this with work published in sociology journals. Those who review your CV already understand differences in sociological journal quality and their impact. Further, the peer review process is likely to focus the content of your paper to be more sociological, even if it doesn’t start out that way. A criticism I’ve heard from sociology colleagues is that research in education journals may not be “theoretical” enough. Even if it is theoretical, it may be more difficult for your sociology audience to see the theoretical significance of articles in an education journal.

It is probably a bad idea to publish ONLY in education journals if you want to appeal to sociologists, broadly defined. That said, in many departments a mix of education and sociology journals may be acceptable. For the tenure process, it will be important to understand and fulfill your department’s expectations about journals. You must understand the “local culture” of your department, and thus you should ask your department chair (and your Dean) how they view publications in education journals. It may be necessary to “educate” administrators at your college/university about differences in quality among education journals. If you have an EEPA and AERJ on your record, you certainly want to be sure that your chair (and Dean) understand that scholars in your sub-field will see these as important strengths on your publication record.

If you have a mix of publications in sociology and education journals, you’ll want to make sure that the quality of sociology journals is reasonably high, as they may be used to gauge the overall quality of your research record. Ideally, you should try to publish in highly selective education journals as well, because it is easier to make the case that your “non-sociology” publications are high quality. Additionally, if you make theoretical connections between your sociology and education articles (maybe through citations or a research statement) then it may help people to better understand the significance and contributions of your education articles.

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