The Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research (SJDR) has a new editorial team. After three years as editors, Jan Grue, Halvor Hanisch, Bill Hughes and Janikke Solstad Vedeler are retiring. Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist of Umeå University, Sweden, will be joined by Hisayo Katsui of Helsinki University, Finland, and Janice McLaughlin of Newcastle University, UK. The three of us, along with the Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR), thank the previous editors for their important work done for the journal.
During the past few years the journal has developed and grown in several important areas that reflect both its Scandinavian identity and the priorities of the NNDR. Notable is the depth and quality of research-based papers on welfare policy and critical scrutiny of policies associated with the normalization principle, disability politics and citizenship (including barriers and discrimination), experiences of disability over the life course (including family and childhood, education, employment and relationships), identities and labels (including experiences of being labelled), rehabilitation, care work and support of people with disabilities. Although the strong presence of Scandinavian-based writers in the journal is part of its backbone, the journal has become increasingly global in its reach, with a firm presence of work from other contexts, perhaps most interestingly from authors based in the Global South, but also from non-European/American countries such as Australia. An emerging stream of papers with a more theoretical, cultural and/or interdisciplinary perspective has also started to find its way into the journal.
Those current strengths and developments in the journal will be continued. We wish to retain the presence of welfare and policy debate – in Scandinavia and beyond, alongside encouraging a stronger presence of work from the Global South (including not just pieces about geographical locations in that broad area, but also those written by researchers from that area). Papers that question how disability is lived differently in different locations, but also how existing modes of knowledge can disallow understanding those differences more fully and how new exchanges of ideas across locations can develop new ways of understanding and challenging marginalization, discrimination and local and global inequality. We also want to encourage submissions from the whole spectrum of disability studies. This means maintaining social science on the one hand, and growing the emerging stream of submissions from researchers within humanities/cultural studies (including more theoretical and social critically submissions) on the other hand. Among our other visions for the future is that we want to encourage pieces that include ethically reflective research methodologies and research approaches; that is we would like to see authors include critical reflexivity in the methods sections particularly in the case of submissions based on only non-disabled people’s perspectives on people with disabilities. We will also continue the work of previous editors to increase the general quality of the production process, such as quality of reviews, support to authors and a timely production process. Recently SJDR has been selected for coverage in Thomson Reuter’s products and services. Beginning with volume 18(1) 2016, SJDR will be indexed and abstracted in Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI). The ESCI is an additional Web of Science database launched by Thomson Reuters in autumn 2015. At launch it contained around 3000 titles and will continue to grow in the future. Indexing in the ESCI is identical to the other core databases in Web of Science, but journals will not receive an Impact Factor. However being indexed in the ESCI improves discoverability, so this will help the journal improve its citation profile for future applications to the core database.
The ‘Scandinavian’ touch
The ‘Scandinavian’ touch of the journal, means different things to us as editors, but we all share a commitment to that name being important to the journal’s identity. Most obvious is the connection to NNDR (which brings together disability researchers located in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) and the established approaches to critically understanding disability that have emerged from that grouping, sometimes referred to as a ‘Nordic model of disability’. This model is associated with a relational view upon disability, which places emphasis on environmental factors while also aims at being critical and evidence-based. The Scandinavian framing can also refer to particular Nordic experiences of disability politics and policies (including the impact of normalization principle on disability policies) and a similar history including welfare systems. But it can also stress the importance of exploring the significance and meaning of locatedness (Traustadóttir 2004), not only of Nordic situatedness and the politics of location, but of disability studies in more general situated and located outside of more dominating national contexts such as UK and USA. This locatedness includes researching and experiencing disability in different contexts, engaging with the specificity and complexity of language and translation, of the risks involved in ‘importing’ theories originating from other socio-economic, historical and cultural contexts. The journal will continue to reflect ideas and approaches associated with NNDR and with work examining disability in the varied specificities of Nordic contexts. It will also actively seek papers from researchers in locations that are also outside privileged locations of academic standing and agenda setting.
Time and energy in conferences and academic publications has been spent trying to establish the difference between disability research emerging from the UK and from the Nordic countries. This probably reflects the geographic nearness and the hierarchal influence of the English language in academic institutions, particularly in publishing. UK work is presented as located within the disabled peoplés movement, and the social model of disability while the ‘Nordic focus’ is said to be on applied policy relevant research that is not positioned within a particular model of disability (Traustadóttir 2004). Our starting position is that this way of thinking about the differences between these two particular locations of disability research is not helpful. It does not reflect the diversity of empirical work, conceptualization and modes of political activism being produced in these different areas. Nor does it reflect the heterogeneity of important work going on outside those two particular geo-political locations. Therefore, for us it is important that the journal reflect the heterogeneity of disability work occurring in multiple locations and through diverse methodologies and conceptual formulations. At the same time the journal will remain an important ‘home’ for researchers working across Scandinavia.
Therefore, the journal will continue to be a home for politically oriented, critical work, seeking to rethink what disability is and how societies could be different. A final commitment we have as editors is recognizing the absolute need for venues, such as this journal, for politically engaged disability research and writing. People with disabilities face many challenges in a global era of austerity, while also being active in responding to those challenges. Disability remains an area of social, cultural, political and economic life that is comparatively under researched and considered in the academy. It is important that the journal connects the academy with the varied lives of people with disabilities through the range of topics covered, the researchers present within it and the open conceptual ideas explored.