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.

Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care

For those interested in publishing articles that comment on, review existing literature about, or empirically investigate elements of clinical perinatal care.

Birth is an interdisciplinary journal publishing original research, systematic reviews and metaanalyses of existing studies, and commissioned commentaries about perinatal clinical care and maternal and newborn public health.  The journal describes its readership as “obstetrics, public health, and neonatology; midwives; physicians; childbirth educators; lactation counselors; doulas; psychologists; social scientists; epidemiologists; and other health workers and policymakers in perinatal care.”

Its author guidelines also list social sciences as fields of interest for the journal, and while demographers, medical anthropologists, and sociologists are certainly regular contributers to the journal, their research is generally aimed at understanding experiences of birthing parents with the aim of increasing quality of care or making recommendations about changes to care approaches.  Methodologies include the randomized control trials, prospective cohort studies, and analyses of medical records common to medical journals alongside survey, focus group, and interview-based studies of clinicians’, parents’, and partners’ perceptions, preferences, and subjective experiences.

These latter subjects are areas of particular focus for the journal, which distinguishes itself from other obstetric and pediatric journals on the basis of the fact that it pays more attention to improving the experience of birthing for “the vast majority of women who are at low risk for poor pregnancy outcomes” than to relatively rarer high-risk situations and the drugs, products and technologies used to treat such conditions.  Articles take a narrow focus, investigating associations with a single condition such as postpartum depression or second degree perineal tears, studying the effects of an individual institutional condition such as “rooming-in” on a particular outcome, developing clinical guidelines or assessment criteria for use in clinical practice.  Coauthorship predominates and many editors and authors are clinicians (RNs, MDs, midwives) with additional research degrees (MPH, PhD, etc).

Birth’s editorial board is peopled by luminaries in the field of study that has proliferated investigating the prevalence of coercion in maternal care, collecting data to verify the safety of community and physiologic birth, and investigating the risks associated with various interventions.  While this article is atypical in that it is itself not an empirical investigation of a clinical issue, it makes clear the institutional and intellectual context in which such scholars work and highlights the methodological and normative fault lines that differentiate their work from its alternatives.

The journal has a somewhat oppositional stance towards typical obstetrics journals.

Useful for Submission

Word Count: Usual maximum of 3,500, occasional 4,000 word articles

Issues per year: 4

Current volume number: 46

Articles per year: ~55

Citation style: endnotes/AMA

Abstract length (if required): for original research, abstracts are generally divided into background, methods, results, and conclusions sections

Upcoming special issues (if available): ‘Asking different questions:  A call to action for research to improve the quality of care for every woman, every child’.

Relevant Editors: Marian MacDorman is editor; a majority of the editorial board have clinical credentials, often in addition to research degrees; most editors are US-based and others are in the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and China.

Open access?: some articles

Online?: yes

Bibliography (articles in the journal consulted for this review)

Benyshek, D., Melissa Cheyney, and Marit L. Bovbjerg. 2019. “Reply to Farr et al. Letter (Benyshek et al).” Birth.  46:1 p 202-204.



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 25, 2019 in Public Health Journals, Social Science Journals.