Categories
Commentaries

Our Thanks to Jason W. Ellis, Our Outgoing Layout Editor

As we approach the publication of Pakistaniaat’s fifth issue, I am also beginning to realize what a loss it would be when Jason W. Ellis, our layout editor, leaves our editorial team at the end of this year. Those of you who have published with us or have downloaded, printed, or viewed our content should know that the professional look and wonderful layout of our articles was all because of Jason’s diligent work.

When I decided to launch Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies in January, 2009, Jason was the first person I asked to join our team. Although I had never seen him use any layout software, I had a feeling that he would be perfect for the job. As he had taken a course with me the previous year, I was absolutely certain about his dedication to scholarship and service and his habit of paying great attention to details. However, what made him the ideal candidate for the role of the layout editor was the fact that I had often seen him working with a Macbook Pro, a Black Macbook Pro!!. So, when it came to courting a potential layout editor, this guy using a sleek, sexy, and powerful machine seemed perfect. Thankfully, Jason honored my request and took on the role of our layout editor.

During his two years of service to the journal, Jason has taught me quite a few lessons, but what I admire the most about him and have tried to emulate is his habit of resolving problems (technical or other) through a reasoned and logical approach. I will always be indebted to Jason for teaching me this kind of patience.

During his stay with us, Jason has produced five online as well as print issues and has made galleys for more than a hundred long and short articles. To be precise, Jason has prepared (in two formats) more than 1400 pages for Pakistaniaat, created our header, developed our Layout Templates, and also prepared all of our five print issues. And, this is important, he has done all this voluntarily while also carrying a full class load as a Ph.D. candidate at Kent State University. [1. Those of you interested in Jason’s other work should visit his blog: Dynamic Subspace.]

So, here it is from all  of us at Pakistaniaat: “Live long and Prosper.”

Categories
Editorials

The First Year of Pakistaniaat–Some Thoughts

It is now the second year of Pakistaniaat’s publication. I thought I should take this opportunity to reflect upon our first year and share some thoughts about our future.
The Decision to Start a Journal
Pakistaniaat, as might be obvious by now, was not really launched on a whim. As a scholar of Pakistani origin living and working in the United States, I had felt a sort of responsibility to my mother country. Finally, after a long process of thought, I decided to launch an academic journal focused primarily on all aspects of Pakistani life. I am grateful to Jenny, my wife, for bearing with me during the whole process and by letting me use her computer to launch the journal.

This decision was also facilitated greatly with my experience of having published in the Postcolonial Text, a wonderful online journal in my field of study. I found the software that the Postcolonial Text used to be very user-friendly and ideally suited for a launching a new open-access journal. The software, called the Open Journal Systems (OJS), was developed by John Willinsky (Stanford University, USA & University of British Columbia, Canada) and made freely available to whole world for publication of academic journals online. Thousands of journals now use this software to publish there content.

Early Steps

The Pakistaniaat website was launched in January 2009, not yet using OJS, but sustained by Audra and Mike of Karma CMS. With the help of Karma CMS I was able to launch the journal in the hope that I will be able to find, eventually, a company with an affordable OJS platform. Besides these technical aspects of the journal, I also needed to put together a professional editorial team. Thus, the launching of the journal had tow immediate fronts, technical and administrative, but the most important aspect of this experience was to start attracting good submissions. I am gratified to say in hindsight that for Pakistaniaat all three important strands of the launching process came together.

Assembling an Editorial Team

A good journal, it goes without saying, must have a highly professional editorial team. I was lucky to find from amongst my friends and colleagues a brilliant team of scholars and writers to head various sections of the journal. Deborah Hall, Valdosta State University, a close friend of mine from Florida State was the first one to join us as our Fiction Editor. Jana Russ, an accomplished poet and a Lecturer at the University of Akron rendered her support as the Poetry Editor. We were  also lucky to garner the support of David Waterman, Université de La Rochelle, France, an emerging scholarly voice on Pakistan Studies, as our Review Editor. Mahwash Shoaib, an accomplished translator, and Yusaf Alamgirian, a journalist and writer from Pakistan, joined us respectively as our Translation and Urdu editors. We were also lucky to have Waqar Haider Hashmi, a dear friend, who handles our contacts with Pakistan. But we also needed, besides these brilliant scholars and writers, a computer wizard to join us as out layout editor. The layout editor has the crucial job of formatting all submissions into the wonderful and professional format in which they are made available to the public. My colleague and friend Jason W. Ellis volunteered to perform the task of our Layout Editor, thus completing my search for an editorial team. I was also, simultaneously reaching out to the senior scholars of Pakistan Studies to join our Editorial Board.

Editorial Board

During the early stage of launching the journal, I wrote approximately 5000 emails. Some of those emails were addressed to senior scholars, requesting them to join our editorial board. The board was crucial to us in two respects: it would would give us a chance to draw on the expertise support of these scholars for the progress of the journal, and it would also allow us to rely on the scholarly prestige of these scholars to bolster the image of of our newly launched journal. The following scholars were kind enough to join our editorial borad and I am grateful to them for lending us their support:

Tahera Aftab, University of Karachi, Pakistan
Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Montclair State Univeristy, United States
Waseem Anwar, Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan
Kamran Asdar Ali, University of Texas, Austin, United States
Katherine Ewing, Duke University, United States
Robin Goodman, Florida State University, United States
Pervez Hoodbhoy, Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan
Babacar M’Baye, Kent State University, United States
Mojtaba Mahdavi, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Hafeez Malik, Villanova University, United States
Muhammad Umar Memon, University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States
Tariq Rahman, Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan
Amit Rai, Florida State University, United States
Amritjit Singh, Ohio University, United States
Anita Weiss, University of Oregon, United States

The Submissions

We received our first submission two weeks after we launched the journal. It was an Interview of Fawzia Afzal-Khan by Nilanshu Kumar Agarwal.  The rest followed at an amazingly astonishing pace. I would specially like to thank Dr. Muhammad Umar Memon (University of Wisconsin, Madison, United States) and editor of the Annual of Urdu Studies who has supported us throughout by contributing his works to the journal and by supporting us in our quest for funding. Now in our second year, we keep receiving submissions related to Pakistan from all over the world, but this has been made possible by those brave few who took the risk of sharing their work with Pakistaniaat during its first formative year.

Financial Support and Move to OJS

We started the journal with no promise of institutional support. Help came from various places. Ron Corthell, Chair of Kent State English Department, was the first one to give us financial support by paying our hosting fees to Karma CMS. In March we finally found a wonderful hosting company with and OJS Platform. Scholarly Exchange, a non profit organization, provides the hosting free of charge for the “First Year” and then makes it available for the subsequent years at a very affordable rate. Our transition to OJS was facilitated by Julian Fisher of Scholarly Exchange, and we are grateful for his constant support throughout our first year. During our first year, we were also lucky to garner the support of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, who adopted us as one of their “supported” journals and gave us enough funding to host and run the journal for the year 2010.

Besides the institutions, we also got a lot of help from individuals who either subscribed to our print version or donated for our cause. Here are the names of these generous friends of Pakistaniaat:

David Waterman, Université de La Rochelle, France
Deborah Hall, Valdosta State University, United States
Akbar Zolfaghari, University of Putra, Malaysia
Donald E. Schmid, New York, United States
Mashhood Ahmed Sheikh, University of Tromsø, Norway
Andrew Smith, Florida State University, United States
Saba Waheed, California, United States

The Future

We are now publishing three issues/ Year and the future looks really bright. The journal is now self-sustaining and has already garnered attention from all over the world. I have no doubt that we will continue publishing quality works from/about Pakistan.

Ways of Helping Us

The best way you can help Pakistaniaat is by sending us you work and by passing the word around. You can also help us:

We do not ask for a lot, but would be thankful for whatever you can offer to help us continue publishing this wonderful journal. Thank you all for your support so far.

Categories
Editorials

Our Belated Thanks to Scholarly Exchange

It just occurred to me today that after having published two successful issues using the Open Access Platform provided by Scholarly Exchange (SE), our hosting company, I have not publicly acknowledged our debt of gratitude to this wonderful not-for-profit organization.

Here is some information about them cited directly from their website:

Scholarly Exchange emerged in 2002 to promote innovative, cost-efficient electronic-first approaches to scholarly publishing.

Its founders were the first to

* produce a comprehensive manuscript tracking system
* introduce a complete editorial-and-publishing e-platform

Scholarly Exchange is the first to

* offer a Software-as-a-Service e-publishing model
* experiment with alternative revenue models for open access journals

I am especially grateful to Julian Fisher, one of the three founders of SE, who has helped me personally throughout this first year of Pakistaniaat’s publication. What I also like about SE is their very philosophy of providing their platform free of charge for the first year so that a new journal can establish itself without worrying much about the costs.

Those of you interested in launching an OJS journal with the best support available, please do consider Scholarly Exchange–We at Pakistaniaat highly recommend them.

So here it is: Thank you people of SE for making it possible for us to launch and sustain Pakistaniaat in its first year. We hope to count on your support for many years to come.

For more details please visit their website: Scholarly Exchange.