Let’s take 10 famous historical historians — one each week — and see what they can achieve with the Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH). 

The Bibliography is a record of more than 610,000 publications relating to Britain, Ireland and the British world. It’s an essential resource — in many different ways — for every historian, however eminent …

In this episode, we look at how BBIH can help you find peer reviewers for articles and book abstracts. Useful for academics with busy schedules.

Episode 5: Matthew Parker and the peer review process

Matthew Parker, a scholarly (and very busy) man

This is Matthew. He is a very busy man. As well as being the Archbishop of Canterbury, he is a keen theologian and historian, and is very much devoted to scholarship.

However, today he’s fed up, because the queen has suddenly demanded an audience to consult on an ecclesiastical matter. Matthew was hoping to spend the day dismantling precious texts from various manuscripts and rebinding them according to theme, or possibly just size, but now he has to go to court, probably to argue with the queen about rood screens or some such.

Matthew is also supposed to edit a collection of homilies for his fellow scholar John Jewel, with contributions from various bishops and scholars. Now that the liturgy is in English, it’s important that inexperienced clergy have approved texts to preach to their congregations. For this reason, Matthew needs to find academics well versed in theology to peer review these publications, to make sure the homilies are of the right standard. In haste, Matthew consults the Bibliography of British and Irish History, to find names for people currently working on preaching in the Elizabethan era:

He also does searches using the keywords ‘Reformation’ and ‘Religious thought’. Although this brings up a lot of results, he can see immediately who is at the forefront of current publishing, and who will be suitable choices to invite to take part in his peer review process:

The Bibliography of British and Irish History also links to journal abstracts and reviews of articles and books, and is currently trying out a new in-house feature, PlumX metrics, that enables users to see how the publication’s been taken up on social media. In this way, Matthew can explore potential peer reviewers, all in a few mouse clicks.

Matthew gazes longingly at his Old English manuscripts and knife, and sets off wearily to court, wondering what kind of mood the queen will be in. Still, at least he can cross one academic task off his list, having now sucessfully used the Bibliography to select his peer reviewers.

And if you’re looking for reviewers, why not assess the field in the same way?

Detail of initial D from the Bury Bible, one of the manuscripts collected by Matthew Parker

It’s Reading Week for our hard-working historians next week, but find out soon what happens with our next historian in episode six – available on the IHR blog!

Previous episodes:

Episode 1: Bede and the Bibliography

Episode 2: Gerald goes to Ireland

Episode 3: Matthew helps Cecilia prepare for teaching

Episode 4: Walter Bower organises a conference

About Matthew Parker …

Parker, Matthew (1504–1575), was archbishop of Canterbury, an influential theologian and historian. He was also Master of Corpus Christi College (1544-53) and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. He was an avid collector of manuscripts and printed books that are now housed in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Like many collectors of the sixteenth century, he saw no problem in cutting up old manuscripts and rebinding them with different texts, but without his passion for acquiring medieval texts, many treasures would have been lost.

About the Bibliography of British and Irish History …

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The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) is the largest and most comprehensive guide available to what’s been written about British and Irish history, from the early 1900s to 2019.

It’s an essential resource for research and teaching, providing up-to-date information (and links) to more than 610,000 History books, articles, chapters, edited collections and theses.

New records are added in three annual updates. These records are searchable by a wide range of facets including: title, author, chronology, date and form of publication, historical topic and geographical region.

The Bibliography is a research project of the UK’s Institute of Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society, and is published by Brepols. BBIH is a subscription service and is available remotely via university and research libraries worldwide.


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