About Oral Tradition

Oral Tradition is a forum for discussion of the world’s oral traditions and related forms from the ancient world to the present day. OT is freely available to all interested scholars, students, performers, and general readers without charge as an online, open-access resource. Here you will find both the current issue of the journal as well as all back issues from the inaugural publication in 1986 onward. In this electronic incarnation, OT reaches more than 20,000 readers per year in 216 countries and territories, and includes multimedia eCompanions to articles—audio, video, photographic, and other support for the article texts—that help to illuminate the traditions under investigation.

Along with the Master Index, the menu on the righthand side of each page contains various tools and options to facilitate use of the more than 500 articles and 10,000 pages on this site. The Search mechanism allows users to investigate the OT archive by author, keyword, or more advanced topics. The Summative Bibliography collates every reference or citation made throughout the history of the journal (more than 21,000 items) in a searchable data-base. We also offer a Chinese translation of volume 18 (2003), in which more than seventy authors address two questions: “What is oral tradition in your field?” and “What are the next few challenges in your area?”

As part of this welcome note, let us offer you three invitations. First, near the bottom of the righthand menu-bar you can sign up to receive notification of new issues via e-mail. Second, we hope that you will consider contributing to as well as reading the journal; manuscripts for possible publication are evaluated within ninety days, on the basis of their quality within the particular field and their more general pertinence for our highly diverse readership. Third, we invite you to join ISSOT, the newly launched International Society for Studies in Oral Tradition, an electronic platform that was created to facilitate communication among interested parties worldwide.

History of the journal

OT was founded in 1986 to serve as an international and interdisciplinary forum for discussion of worldwide oral traditions and related forms. Since that time, and through the end of 2006, it has been published by Slavica Publishers, with an additional online edition through Project Muse from 2003 onward.

New, Universal Access

With the advent of the free, open-access electronic version of the journal, we aspire to remove many of the natural barriers created by print-based and subscription media. Since we believe that academic contributions should be as democratically available as possible, we are from this point onward offering the journal as a pro bono, gratis contribution to the field. Anyone with a connection to the internet will be able to read and redistribute its contents – not only the current issue, but also more than 25 years and more than 10,000 pages of back issues.

In addition to reaching a much larger and more diverse readership, we hope that this electronic version of the journal will encourage submissions from scholars whose voices are not customarily heard in western print media because of the difficulties involved with currency exchange and distribution networks. Let me take this opportunity to offer a special invitation to non-western scholars to join the discussion by sending contributions for possible publication in this newly expanded forum for scholarly exchange.

Publication details

We post OT on this website as a series of PDF (Portable Document Format) files in order to preserve formatting and diacritics accurately. If the computer you are using does not have Adobe Reader installed, please download the free software. Files can be opened and read online, and can also be printed to produce hard copy. Additionally, you may redistribute any or all contents as you wish, with the sole condition that the original publication source is accurately cited. See the citation policy on this page.

The entire OT archve is searchable online by keyword and by author, so that readers seeking information on specific traditions or concepts can easily locate pertinent research. eCompanions, which contain photographs, audio, video, and other multimedia support for articles, are linked from within the individual article texts.

OT will continue to be a fully refereed academic journal, with all manuscripts reviewed by a specialist and a generalist before a decision is reached. Although the medium of publication has shifted, nothing in the process of evaluation will change. As before, we will attempt to have a decision within 90 days of receiving the manuscript.

For information on submitting a manuscript to OT, see Prospective Authors.

Citation policy

For the sake of accuracy and to help spread awareness of the electronic edition of the journal as widely as possible, we ask authors who quote or cite contents from OT to acknowledge the internet source via URL. A sample citation might read as follows: Burton Raffel, “The Manner of Boyan: Translating Oral Literature,” Oral Tradition, 1 (1986): 11-29 [OT = http://journal.oraltradition.org/issues/1i/Raffel]

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