by Richard Edwards — Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
March 16, 2011 – 06:39
This is a response to questions posed to me via Twitter by Shana Kimball, Head of Publishing Services, Outreach and Strategic Development at MPublishing, University of Michigan Library (http://lib.umich.edu/spo) She asked me in a tweet: “Curious about what you think authors should take notice of in the AAUP report? How should it change their publishing habits?” My immediate reaction was: great questions. ... read more »
MediaCommons is very happy to host an open discussion of the Association of American University Presses report, released on Monday, “Sustaining Scholarly Publishing: New Business Models for University Presses.” This report examines the experiments currently underway in university press publishing and makes several key recommendations for the success of future innovation. Central to these recommendations is a call for greater collaboration and communication in these publishing processes. ... read more »
As is being discussed a good bit around the academic blogo-/twittersphere this morning, Jennifer Howard reports in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education on a new report soon to be released by a committee organized by the National Humanities Alliance, entitled “The Future of Scholarly Journals Publishing Among Social Science and Humanities Associations.” This report seems to have a couple of compelling findings: first, that the per-article cost of journal publishing in the humanities and social sciences is more than three times as much as in the science, technical, and medical (a.k.a. STM) fields, and second, that this increased cost is due in no small part to the increased selectivity of those journals. ... read more »
A couple of interesting things in the inbox today:
First, a story about a new site in the physics world designed to challenge what is seen by some as the in-group exclusivity of the arXiv e-print server. The new site, called viXra, removes any restrictions on the kinds of papers that can be uploaded. Coming from the humanities, where traditional black-box peer review still holds sway, arXiv’s model already seems more or less like radical openness: the first time a scholar uploads a paper in a particular field, he or she needs to obtain the “endorsement” of an already-established scholar; once uploaded, each paper is scanned to make sure it’s not nonsense. But the folks associated with viXra allege that some scholars have been blocked from uploading papers based on the moderators’ sense that their work is too speculative, or that their papers have been “dumped” in the generic “physics” category, where they’re unlikely to be found and read. viXra’s developers make an interesting argument for the necessity of their counter-arXiv; it’ll be fascinating to see how the new site develops.
My personal hope is that other cash-strapped publishing houses will bite the bullet, move their entire libraries to digital, and send their authors a complimentary, book-shaped box of tissues to cry into when they contemplate the loss of their name on a hardcover.
I can hardly disagree with that. But I’m not entirely sold on the HUP/Scribd model of the future; we’re still essentially talking about the same system, and the same textual model, just digitally distributed. The future of scholarly publishing, I can only hope, will involve a much more radical rethinking of the role of the press and the form of the text than this model suggests.
Do not walk, run — or whatever the web-based version of running would be — to read and/or listen to Michael Jensen’s plenary talk from last month’s AAUP meeting, “Scholarly Publishing in the New Era of Scarcity.” It’s a moving and important talk, and one that gets at several of the points that I’ve been arguing for in the book I’m currently finishing up. It’s an enormously important talk, and one I’m glad university publishers were there to hear.
The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Wired Campus” blog has posted a brilliant article by David Wiley, entitled “The Parable of the Inventor and the Trucker.” Every scholar who’s concerned about the economics of academic publishing should read the post, as well as the discussion in the comments; it’s a wonderful snapshot of the crisis facing the system, and the ways that system is breaking down.