Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences

We give you the scuttlebutt on academic journals—aiding you in selecting the right journal for publication—in reviews that are sometimes snarky, sometimes lengthy, always helpful. Written by Princeton University graduate students and Wendy Laura Belcher.

Journal of The American Musicological Society

For those interested in publishing articles on canonical European music. 

Arguably, most scholars aspire to publish in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS), the leading journal in the studies of musicology. It claims to publish a wide range of research – anywhere from “historical musicology, critical theory, music analysis, iconography and organology, to pedagogy, performance practice, aesthetics and hermeneutics, ethnomusicology, gender and sexuality, popular music, and cultural studies.”

However, although JAMS is known as the most prominent journal in the musicological scholarship, the journal selects only a handful of articles to be published per issue, and the topics and fields of those few articles are limited in scope. Indeed, the subject matter in many of the accepted articles was music from Medieval Europe, often about motets, liturgy, and compositional or performance practice prior to the sixteenth century. More recently, the publication has given some focus to race and gender studies, but not what one would expect from a flagship journal. By contrast, the annual conference of the American Musicological Society (AMS) covers a much broader range of fields and subfields, such as video game music. Therefore, JAMS does not quite reflect the current trends and interests that the AMS exhibits. The discrepancy between the articles published in JAMS and the evidently diverse interest in the current scholarship is a mystery.

Introductions to article were usually 5 to 7 pages, with notes about the paper’s progress history. It often starts with a quote or a historical date/event, an orienting background to the topic, and sometimes with figures or musical examples. The argument tended to be announced in the middle or at the end of the introduction.

Established in 1948, JAMS is published triannually, with two to five articles, some scholarly communications, and a number of reviews for books as well as digital and multimedia scholarship per issue. The issues are sent to the members of the AMS.

To submit a work to JAMS, one need not be a member of the AMS; however, to access the articles of the issues, membership or institutional affiliation is required. Even so, the most current issue is not available except to AMS members. JSTOR, a well-known digital library, only has issues up to the year 2018 at this point, and even on the University of California Press website, issues after the year 2021 cannot be accessed by a non-members. This difficulty of access seems contrary to what the AMS states in their mission, that they aim to “manifest the growth and vitality of the profession and reflect the scholarly interests of members by giving permanent form to the best in musicological research.”

Useful Information for Submission

Word count: 20,000 words or less

Issues per year: Three   

Current issue: Vol. 75, 2022      

Articles per year: 6 or less    

Typical number of citations: 50 or more

Typical number of endnotes: 30 to 120          

Citation Style: Chicago Manual of Style 17th ed note and bib style     

Abstract length (if required): 250 words or less                   

Relevant Editors: Kevin C. Karnes, Amy Wlodarski, Gurminder Kaur Bhogal, Jeffers L. Engelhardt, Laura Davey, Nicole Chung, Alexander W. Cowan, Jennifer Walker, Rebecca Cypess          

Open Access? No         

Online? Both online and in print

Article submission method: Through the Scholastica website.

Publisher: University of California Press   

Bibliography (articles in the journal consulted for this review):

  • On “Diegesis” and “Diegetic”: Words and Concepts (2020) by STEFANO CASTELVECCHI
  • Composing Film Music in Theory and Practice: Honegger’s Contributions to Les misérables
  • and Rapt (2019) by LESLIE SPROUT
  • Detours on a Winter’s Journey: Schubert’s Winterreise in Nineteenth-Century Concerts (2021) by NATASHA LOGES                                                                                                             

2019 Review

The flagship journal in the field of the research-based study of music, the Journal of the American Musicological Society (JAMS) is published triannually (three times a year).

Contrary to what its title may seem to apply, not all members of the American Musicological Society (AMS) nor the authors of JAMS articles are American. Additionally, the subject-matter of potential submissions need not bear any relationship to American music, although they can. AMS/JAMS is not to be confused with the similarly named Society for American Music (SAM) and that society’s publication, the Journal of the Society for American Music (JSAM). By contrast, the membership for that society, SAM/JSAM, slants American (not necessarily from the United States) and is “dedicated to the study, teaching, creation, and dissemination of all musics in the Americas,” whereas the AMS boasts having members from forty different countries.

Despite being the most prominent journal in the research-based field of music, the publication has a quite limited focus and is not representative of the diverse fields music scholars actually study. For instance, the popular website,, only has issues until the year 2015; if one wants to view the latest issues, it is necessary to become a member of the society. Furthermore, only a select few articles are chosen to be published each year. Each issue has roughly 3-5 articles and 3-5 book reviews. Additionally, JAMS also includes reviews of “digital and multimedia scholarship” and tends to publish at least one “colloquy” every year (a journal article with a more general focus that is published collaboratively by multiple authors).

Although the publication claims to (and does) accept submissions from a variety of different music-related fields such as critical theory, ethnomusicology, and gender and sexuality studies, the accepted journal articles tend to cover more traditional ‘Western’ musics in subject-matter. Such articles in JAMS tend to be  lengthy, indeed perhaps the lengthiest of any journal, as the submission guidelines ask for articles of no more than 20,000 words in length (which includes both the main text and footnotes). However, it is important to note that music articles often include numerous musical examples as figures that occupy an entire page. The average length for articles is approximately 50 pages, and the society seems to curate the journal so that the articles in a particular issue are roughly the same length, though this is not always the case.

This is the journal emerging scholars should desire to be published in, but the publication curates a space that reflects the current state of the field quite aptly: those with a more traditional scholarly approach will generally feel the most welcome.

Useful for Submission
Word Count : 20,000 words max (includes main text and footnotes)
Issues per year : 3
Current volume number : 71
Articles per year : Varies, but 10-12 articles and 12-15 reviews
Citation style : Chicago
Abstract length (if required): 250 words conforming to RILM guidelines
Upcoming special issues (if available) : Special Issue on Race and Ethnicity forthcoming
Relevant Editors : Joy H. Calico (Vanderbilt University), Michael J. Puri, Debra Lacoste, Laura Davey, Elizabeth Elmi, Stacey VanderMeer, Justin Mueller, and several prominent music scholars as the editorial board.
Open Access : No
Online : Yes, but need some sort of membership of institutional affiliation to access

About Wendy Belcher

Associate Professor, Princeton University, Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for African American Studies. Author of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Instructor of Deep Reading Journals as Publishing Praxis.


This entry was posted on February 14, 2019 in Humanities Journals, Music Journals.