Information for Authors
Oral History aims to contribute to developments in the theory and practice of oral history. It welcomes contributions, whether long or short articles, news items, reviews or reports of meetings, conferences or new projects. Articles should be emailed to: Journals Administrator
To download a PDF copy of this page, click here.
All articles are submitted to the process of anonymous peer review. Three decisions can be made: accept, revise and resubmit, or reject. The Oral History editorial group makes every endeavour to provide supportive suggestions to contributors whether or not an article is accepted or rejected.
The joint editors welcome contributions from a wide range of disciplines and practices, for example, history, women’s studies, sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, geography, politics, social policy, social administration, museum studies, archive work, health studies, education, library and information services, community publishing, folklore, media studies, photography, broadcasting, nursing, social work, psychology, psychiatry, and in fact any area where the significance of orality, personal testimony and remembering is understood and valued. We welcome a variety of approaches from people from different countries and from different backgrounds.
Oral History is published twice yearly in Spring (March) and Autumn (September) with a roughly three-month lead time. Articles should be submitted as early as possible to allow each issue to be planned in advance as circulation amongst the editors normally takes around twelve weeks. Final copy dates for contributions to both the Current British Work and International Work sections are the end of November (for the Spring issue) and the end of June (for the Autumn issue).
Articles must normally be between 5000 and 7000 words in length. All articles, together with an abstract (see below for details) and an accurate word count should be submitted electronically with double spacing and each page clearly numbered. Please ensure you retain a back-up copy of your work.
To facilitate the process of anonymous review, names should appear only on a separate front title sheet with the full title of the article. Joint author’s names should be given alphabetically. Authors must specify if they wish otherwise.
Where an author’s name appears in the footnotes this should be replaced by ‘Author’ in order to preserve anonymity. Author’s names will be re-inserted if the article is accepted.
The readership of Oral History is international. To be fully understandable to both native English readers and also those for whom English is an additional language we ask all authors for whom English is not their first language to consult an editor who has English language editing skills in order to check on fluency, grammar, vocabulary etc. We have found this to be advantageous to both editors and authors as it facilitates the editing process.
Persons who have made significant contributions to the article, for example as interviewers or researchers, should be listed in an ‘Acknowledgements’ section at the end of the article preceding the ‘Notes’.
An outline self-description of each author, not more than three lines long, should be submitted with the manuscript on a separate sheet (and a separate computer file). We also encourage you to supply a contact email for inclusion at the end of your article when it is published to allow readers to contact you directly, though this is entirely optional.
Abstract and key words
With the submission the author/s must also supply an abstract of the article not exceeding 120 words which summarises the argument, key points and conclusions; plus up to five key words describing the piece.
Submissions to Oral History must follow the house style set out below. Any contributions submitted which do not comply with house style will be sent back to the author for reformatting.
- Prose. Contributions should be written in a direct style, avoiding jargon. Clear, forceful pieces are best. Oral History aims to address historians of all kinds, not only academics. The readership is international.
- Headings. The full title of the article should appear at the top of the first page in bold; the first word of the title only should be capitalised. For example: ‘Bringing stories to life: using new media to disseminate and critically engage with oral history interviews’.Authors are encouraged to keep article titles as short as possible (maximum of 20 words)
- Sub headings. Introduce sub headings in bold upper-lower case where possible. These help to break up the text and make articles easier to read – and edit.
- Paragraphs should be separated by an extra line and not indented. Sections should be separated by two extra lines. Avoid justifying the text on the right margin: leave it ragged.
- Punctuation. Generally, full stops to indicate truncation should be avoided, thus Mrs not Mrs. and PhD not Ph.D. and eds not eds. and tel not tel.
Hyphens should be used to connect compounded words like ‘well-known’, ‘up-to-date’ and to join numbers or dates in a range; for example the years 1945–1995, or pages pp23–25.En-dashes are used to indicate a strong interruption from the rest of the sentence text (unless the interruption comes at the end of the sentence). For example: “Reading my story of their lives – a story to which they had contributed from the start – was, as far as I can tell, mostly a positive experience.”The name en-dash comes from the dash being as wide as the letter ‘n’. NB: If you’re using a PC, hold down the ALT key and press 0150 on the numeric keypad on the right of your keyboard. On a Mac, press the option and dash keys simultaneously.Do not use em-dashes.Italics, rather than inverted quote marks, should be used to indicate emphasis. ‘Scare quotes’, the use of quotation marks by the author to add emphasis should only be used sparingly, if at all.Oral History does not use the Oxford (or serial) comma, which is a comma used before the conjunction (such as “and” or “or”) at the end of a list, for example the final comma here in “… McCalliog, Knowles, Dougan, Curran, and Wagstaffe.”
- Numbers and ages less than 100 should be written in full, for example, forty-two. Numbers 100 and over should be in figures, for example, 235. The percentage sign (%) should only be used in tables, otherwise use ‘per cent’. Use figures with percentages only when a decimal point is required (e.g. 7.4 per cent). Insert a comma for thousands and tens of thousands, e.g. 1,000 and 10,000.
- Measurements should be offered in both imperial and metric units, unless a measurement is used in a direct quotation.
- Dates. For decades use 1930s (not nineteen thirties), for centuries use ‘nineteenth century’ not ’19th century’. When quoting spoken word use thirties not ’30s. Set all dates out as follows: 5 November 1997. When discussing the late or early part of a decade use ‘late 1960s’ not ‘late-1960s’ nor ‘late-60s’ nor ‘late-sixties’. For date ranges use full dates, for example 1945–1995, not 1945–95.
- Abbreviations and contradictions. Avoid using abbreviations except in the notes (see below). Latinisms such as e.g. and i.e. should be written out with full equivalent meanings as should ‘&’. The World Wars should appear as First World War and Second World War not as World War One/Two or WW1/WW2). Full wording forms should be used: do not (not don’t), will not (not won’t); except in quoted speech..
- Spelling. American spellings should appear in English, for example: colour not color, programme not program, organise not organize, unless they have been used in direct quotes. French and other non-English words should be italicised, e.g. frisson and force majeure. All published works (books, newspapers, journals, radio and television programmes) mentioned in the text should appear in italics. Please spell-check your article before submitting it.
- Capitalisation. Keep capitalisation to a minimum thus: CD-Rom not CD-ROM and Internet not INTERNET. Do not capitalise black and white when referring to race. Use lower case for government, church, volume etc. Compass points should be lower case and hyphenated within combined (north-east); north should not be capitalised unless used in a proper noun (north London but North Carolina). Political parties should be capitalised (e.g. Fascist and Communist should only be used if referring to a specific political party).
- Quotations and quotation marks. The use of longer direct quotations is welcomed. Quotations must be referenced. If they are less than two sentences in length they should be included in the main body of the text using single quotation marks. Quotations longer than two sentences should be indented without quotation marks. When preparing text on disk use the ‘left indent’ or ‘block indent’ feature not word spacing or tabs. Within an indented section quotations should be marked by single quotation marks. Quotations within quotations should be marked by double quotation marks. Full stops should appear after quote marks, e.g. James said, ‘I will go to sleep’. And after brackets, e.g. sentence ends (with a bracketed section here). For long passages of quoted text the full stop appears inside the quote:.’ Use three dots to indicate a pause in speech. Deletions from speech should be indicated thus: […] Any author explanatory comments should be inserted in square brackets.
- Longer transcribed interview extracts. Questions should be italicised (see issue 27/1 p 79 for an example). If several people are quoted they should be named each time. Full names, in italics, rather than initials should be used.
- References and notes. Endnotes not footnotes should be used and kept to a minimum. They should be numbered consecutively in the text in superscript following punctuation (for example.1) and the notes typed on separate pages after the main text under the heading Notes. Published books and periodicals should be italicised in the notes, as elsewhere in the text. Do not use full stops after abbreviations such as p, vol, no, tel, etc, nor after initials. Slashes should not be used. Do not use latin words in the footnotes, such as ‘op cit’, ‘passim’. For repeated references to articles or books use the author’s surname, year of publication, page number, e.g. Perks, 1993, p 7. When referencing a single page use p. and for a range of pages use pp. Please use the following referencing formats in the Notes section:
- Articles:Susan Crane, ‘Writing the individual back into collective memory’, American Historical Review, vol 102, no 4, 1997, pp 1372-85.
- Books:Joe Lambert, Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community, Berkeley, California: Digital Diner Press, 2002, p 52.
- Chapters in books:John Adams, ‘A fair hearing: life review in a hospital setting’, in Joanna Bornat (ed), Reminiscence Reviewed, Buckingham: Open University Press, 1994, pp 84-95.
- Fieldwork interviews recorded by the author:Interview with Richard Evans, born in London, 1 March 1922, furniture maker; recorded by Ann Jones, 12 March 1997.
- Archived interviews and interviews not recorded by the author:Interview with Jack Smith, interviewed by Cathy Courtney, Artists’ Lives, British Library, catalogue reference C466/12/01, transcript pp 2-4.
- Referencing Electronic sources
- Articles: Terry Cook, ‘We are what we keep; we keep what we are’: archival appraisal past, present and future’, Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol 32 no 2, 2011, pp 173-189. Accessed online at <www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00379816.2011.619688>, 13 September 2013.
- Websites: Stories Matter [web page]. Accessed online at <http://storytelling.concordia.ca/storiesmatter/>, 24 September 2010.
A url reference does not need both http:// and www.
http can be removed from the url if www is present.
Authors’ names should be spelt out, for example, Andrew Holmes and Margaret Pilkington, not Holmes A and Pilkington M, nor Andrew Holmes & Margaret Pilkington (no ampersands). Where authors use initials do not allow a space between initials, for example Alan PE Knott not Alan P E Knott.
The name of anyone interviewed and quoted in an article should be replaced by a substitute name unless the author has written permission from the person quoted to use their actual name.
The Current British Work section is ordered alphabetically by region, starting with England then followed by Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Each report should begin with the County and, on a new line, the place and title of the organisation or project in bold capitals. It should conclude with contact details which must appear in the following order: name, address, postcode, telephone number, fax number, email address, website address. Here is an example of how to list this information:
For more information contact: Sylvia King, Jubilee Arts, 84 High Street, West Bromwich, West Midlands B70 6JW, tel 0121 553 6862, fax 0121 525 0640, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website www.jubilee-arts.co.uk
Normal style and punctuation rules apply. Note that there is no punctuation after ‘tel’ and that it should be email not Email or e-mail. All British news should be sent to: Cynthia Brown.
The International Work section is ordered alphabetically by continent and the same rules apply as for the British news section. All International news should be sent to: Siobhan Warrington.
The report should begin with the full title of the conference in bold capitals, followed by the organiser, venue and full date in bold upper/lower case. Individual speakers should be italicised the first time they are mentioned and you are encouraged to use subheadings (see above). Your own name should appear at the end of the report in bold upper/lower case.
The review should begin with the full title of the work in bold capitals, followed on a new line by the author/s or editor/s in upper/lower case, then again on a new line the place of publication if it is not London, the publisher, the date of publication, number of pages and price, e.g.:
WHITE GLOVES: HOW WE CREATE OURSELVES THROUGH MEMORY
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995, 276pp, £15.99.
SEX WORK ON THE STREETS: PROSTITUTES AND THEIR CLIENTS
Neil McKeganey and Marina Barnard (eds)
Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996, 114pp, £12.99, paperback.
As with authors, reviewers should provide a self-description not exceeding three lines in length, and add their name in upper/lower case bold to the end of the review.
Once an article has been accepted for publication, and copy-edited by the Oral History editors, authors are asked to assign copyright in their article to the Oral History Society using the Oral History Authors’ Agreement, which can be downloaded here. The Oral History Society’s approach to copyright reflects our interest in providing benefits to our members (through immediate and exclusive access to our publications both in print form and online via JSTOR) whilst also recognising the rights of authors to be able to share their own work. Authors are free to publish the word version of their article (before it was copy-edited) on their own websites and archive them in their institutional repositories; there is a one year embargo on authors publishing the copy-edited version of their article as a pdf file. The editors of Oral History are currently in consultation with other journals and arts and humanities organisations on the length of an embargo on the final version of an article as part of the UK funding councils consultation on open access. For further information consult the journal editors directly.
Oral History welcomes photographs and illustrations to accompany articles and news.
When submitting an article for publication, captions and credits (acknowledging the source and copyright) for any accompanying images should be numbered and saved in a separate Word or text file titled Captions (with the title of the article) with the preferred position (if applicable) for each image noted in the text (for example “smith-pic5-p12.jpg to go near here”).
Please ensure that you have copyright permission to reproduce any illustration. Images copied from websites are generally unsuitable for printed publications as they are usually optimised at too low a resolution (usually 72 dpi for the web). If you see an image that would be useful for your article you will need to contact the website’s builders in order to obtain a better version of the image they have used. Copyright problems can also be sorted out at that stage.
If you are scanning the images yourself: please ensure the images are scanned in colour at 300 dpi at actual size and saved as .jpg or .tif.
Although images for Oral History are currently reproduced in black and white, please do not convert scanned or digital images from colour to black and white or greyscale before sending them to us. We welcome images in full colour in case they are suitable for the front and back covers.
It is important to send us the original scanned images (or digital files from a camera in the case of recently taken images) rather than embed them in a Word or text file.
If you are planning to take pictures using a digital camera or smartphone, please ensure that the quality level is set at as high a resolution as possible.
Send the images (clearly labelled with author, image number and page for positioning, eg bornat-pic5-p12.jpg) either:
by post on a CD or DVD to: Oral History Journal, Oral History, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB;
by email (with each image in a separate email) to: Journals Administrator or
by creating and copying the jpegs into a Dropbox folder (www.dropbox.com) and inviting email@example.com to share the link.
If you are unable to scan your images yourself and are sending us prints for us to reproduce, please note we cannot accept responsibility for any that may be lost or damaged in the post. If you do not have personal access to a scanner and do not want to risk posting them, many local photo shops or local printers should be able to help. Many photo shops now offer retouching to remove tears, folds, blemishes and improve tone and colour, etc, as well as usually being able to handle transparencies and negatives, which we cannot. Please note we will only perform minimal retouching to your images, mainly to achieve suitable contrast and tone for printing.
Oral History is unable to pay for any images.
If in doubt, or you would like further advice about scanning and the use of images, please contact Andy Smith at our designers Smith+Bell, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by ringing him on 07968 588729.
Authors’ journal copies
Oral History is a small journal produced entirely on a voluntary basis, apart from printing and design. We have a small budget and little extra time. For this reason we are not able to provide offprints for authors. However, we do provide authors with a PDF copy of their copy-edited and designed article by email, and two hard copies of the issue in which their article was published. Extra copies are available to authors at half the current sale price, plus postage.
Revised May 2014