The making of a Festschrift: Behind the scenes

Posted on 12/02/2018 · Posted in Dialogos, Recent news, Research

They thought they knew what they signed up for when they decided to publish a Festschrift. Guest editors Dr Antoinette van der Merwe, Alta van Rensburg, Dr Rose Richards, Sharifa Daniels, Prof Rufus Gouws and the support team who put this volume together now admit that it was even harder work than they had anticipated. It makes the end product even more extraordinary, however!

In September 2016, Alta van Rensburg, Deputy Director of the Language Centre, raised the idea of a publication to celebrate Prof De Stadler’s contribution to his field of study upon his retirement. Wheels were set in motion, and on 3 November 2016, a multilingual invitation to contribute to the Festschrift went out in Afrikaans, English, isiXhosa and Dutch. Colleagues and students from near and far who had collaborated with Prof de Stadler over the years were invited to take part in this commemoration, which would be published as a volume of the accredited online journal Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus (SPiL Plus). A small number of hard copies would also be published.

Deadlines followed for registering one’s intention to make a contribution and subsequently submitting an abstract late in 2016, after which prospective contributors were notified whether their abstracts had been accepted. Full articles and research notes were due six months later, on 1 May 2017. The managing editor of SPiL Plus, Dr Kate Huddlestone of the Department of General Linguistics, managed the peer-review process of the articles. This involved approaching two reviewers for each manuscript, at least one of whom was from outside Stellenbosch University. Reviewers evaluated the manuscripts on the basis of, among others, the likely target readers and the importance of the topic for target readers; the likelihood that the article would be read and cited by others; the (original) contribution the manuscript would make to existing knowledge on the subject; whether the reference system and reference list were complete, adequate and appropriate; whether the paper was clearly written and logically presented; and whether the manuscript was specifically suited for publication in SPiL Plus rather than in another journal. Successful authors then had the opportunity to incorporate suggestions by the reviewers, where necessary, and resubmit and by October 2017 the manuscripts were ready for copy-editing.

The Language Centre’s Language Service did the copy-editing, which involved at least two language practitioners engaging with each text at different stages. Once the language practitioners, guest editors and authors were satisfied – a process not without its blood, sweat and tears – the layout was done, also by the Language Service. Authors received their galley proofs for sign-off late in November, and the Festschrift, spanning an impressive 226 pages, was published online on 14 December 2017 as Volume 53 (2017) of SPiL Plus. Join us in this commemoration and have a look this special publication here:

the team

Prof De Stadler with the guest editors of the Festschrift and the support team