The mission of New Directions is to provide a space for the music education community to discuss, debate and engage with one another–to provide a
sort of “Town Hall” forum for the exchange of ideas and a clearinghouse for the conversations about the questions that fuel our growth as a profession.
New Directions will be a different sort of journal, in that we won’t require submissions to follow a predetermined format or length, or limit
submissions to formal reports of research projects. Rather, we will encourage the submission of a more diverse array of scholarly work, including policy briefs, curriculum studies, pedagogical
and conducting analyses, position statements and collaborative writing, as well as reports of research of any methodological paradigm or design. In so doing we hope to re-conceptualize the notion
of scholarship in our discipline in a broader and more inclusive fashion.
Therefore, New Directions will establish no limitations with respect to method, design or format for submissions; indeed, we are strongly committed
to encouraging submissions in alternative presentation formats, the use of audio and video material, and non-linear, non-hierarchical structures, such as web pages or sites, slide shows, and
other alternative formats.
New Directions will also encourage a kinder, more supportive approach to the review process. Our review process will be guided by the following
First, reviewers should approach the editorial process as a collegial exchange, not as a critical investigation. Just as good teachers and research advisors
work in a supportive, nurturing fashion with their students to help them find their “voices” as educators and writers, reviewers should enter the editorial process thinking about how they can
help an author to tell their story more clearly, and to encourage the author to let their voice come through in their writing.
Second, reviewers should understand that an author is much more likely to listen to suggestions that are offered in a gentle, constructive manner, than to
criticisms and negative comments. While it may be easier to focus one’s critique on what the author needs to change or do differently, it is more helpful to the author when these suggestions
are conveyed in an encouraging fashion. This does not mean that there is no place in a review for a critique of the author’s writing style or methodological procedure—there are, after all,
legitimate issues that should be addressed in every review. Rather, the issue here is more about style than substance. Just as a well-written concert review can convey less than successful
aspects of a performance while maintaining a generally positive impression of the performer or group’s efforts, a thoughtfully crafted editorial review can point out design flaws and writing
errors in a kind, encouraging manner.
Finally, reviewers should approach their task with the goal of using the review process as a way to encourage and support aspiring scholars and authors. We
often decry the lack of submissions to our scholarly journals and bemoan the preponderance of “one and done” studies in music education research; could the nature of the review process itself
be a factor in these issues? Are authors who receive unnecessarily harsh critiques from reviewers dissuaded from pursuing further publication opportunities? Do negative comments from
reviewers lead to a lack of confidence for some writers that precludes them from submitting additional articles to these journals?
The approach to the editorial review process described above should represent an empowering, invigorating experience for all concerned. We should hope for nothing
less for our colleagues who bravely submit their work for peer review.