This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education includes extensive coverage of the topic of altmetrics by Jennifer Howard. There are two companion stories, but the main one is “Rise of ‘Altmetrics’ Revives Questions About How to Measure Impact of Research.” If you can get access to the Chronicle, this main story can be found here. I spoke to Ms. Howard during her research and was quoted in the story. My discussions with her drew upon the collaborative work of the Faculty Advisory Board for the Office of Scholarly Publishing (at Indiana University) as well as my participation in campus events focused on the reassessment of tenure and promotion guidelines. As might be suggested from the quotations that she shared, our discussions sat on the border between the altmetrics discussion and a neighboring conversation–what is increasingly being discussed as the “what counts?” issue. The later theme concerns questions of genre in scholarly communication under significantly changing circumstances. My hope is that Ms. Howard will have a chance to return to the later theme in future work. She is a fine communicator and a great observer of academic publishing, technology, the digital humanities and neighboring realms. If you can access it, please check out her stories. They are a helpful introduction to the places where we are now.
Posts from the ‘Scholarly Communication’ Category
I am pleased to note that the University of Michigan Press has now published the print and ebook editions of Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities. This volume was organized and edited by Daniel J. Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt and is part of the press’ Digital Humanities series.
Followers of the project will know that this is just the latest iteration of a multimodal effort. The history of the project is narrated in numerous places, including in the preface to the free open web version (made available earlier by the Press’s Digital Culture Books unit). Very instructive is the more primordial version (inclusive of much content not in the book) at http://hackingtheacademy.org/
I was trilled to participate in the project with an abridged version of a blog post that first appeared here (still a best seller after several years). That original post was called “Getting Yourself Out of the Business in Five East Steps” and it promotes resisting the increasing enclosure of scholarly publishing by large multinational firms. (In the new book, it appears on pages 13-14.)
Everyone reasonably wonders about the point of a print edition of a “book” born out of twitter links and weblogs posts. Here is how the editors address this point.
Finally, the reader may legitimately ask: Doesn’t the existence of Hacking the Academy as a book undermine its argument? Why put this supposedly firebrand work into a traditional form? The answer is that we wanted this project to have maximal impact and especially to reach those for whom RSS and Twitter are alien creatures. Moreover, one of the main themes of this volume—and of digital technology—is that scholarly and educational content can exist in multiple forms for multiple audiences.
A review of the book edition, but someone new to the effort (who missed the earlier instances), has been published on the Education Technology and Change (ETC) blog.
Thanks to all of the editors, contributors, readers, and publishers involved in this experimental work.
Readers of Museum Anthropology Review might be interested in knowing which contributions to the journal were most intensively consulted during 2012. Only today did I study the statistics closely. Here is the journal’s top five for 2012.
1. Daniel C. Swan’s “Objects of Purpose—Objects of Prayer: Peyote Boxes of the Native American Church” in MAR 4(2).
2. Jon Kay’s “A Picture of an Old Country Store: The Construction of Folklore in Everyday Life” in MAR 4(2).
3. Heather Horst’s Review of “Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children and Consumer Culture (Pugh)” in MAR 4(2).
4. Carrie Hertz’s “Costuming Potential: Accommodating Unworn Clothes” in MAR 5(1-2).
5. Jill Ahlberg Yohe’s “Situated Flow: A Few Thoughts on Reweaving Meaning in the Navajo Spirit Pathway” in MAR 6(1).
Congratulations to these authors and thanks to MAR’s many readers around the world!
[Cross-posted from the Museum Anthropology Review announcements page.]
The Day of DH (Digital Humanities) has just begun (4-8-2013). I am hoping to participate as my schedule allows and I look forward to learning from other project participants. Learn more about the project here: http://dayofdh2013.matrix.msu.edu/
My Day of DH Blog is located here: http://dayofdh2013.matrix.msu.edu/jasonbairdjackson/
Today the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews (JFRR) published my review of A Companion to Folklore edited by Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). It was an honor to be asked to review such a key volume in the field. Find the review online here: http://indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=1416
On Monday I will be helping host the second in a series of campus solons focused on the changing scholarly publishing landscape. While keyed to the campus science faculty, all campus researchers are invited to come and participate. The invitation appears below. Information on the series is available here.
* * *
The Advisory Committee to the IU Office of Scholarly Publishing
and the Office of the Provost
invite you to attend a
During 2013, I will have the honor of editing the Journal of Folklore Research. I will be serving for a year as Interim Editor, bridging Moria Marsh’s editorship and the anticipated service of an outstanding departmental colleague who will be away from campus next year. The opportunity is a valuable one and the time is most auspicious, as 2013 will see the publication of the journal’s 50th volume.
With roots that go back to 1942 and a number of earlier publications, the journal that we now know as JFR was founded in 1964 as the Journal of the Folklore Institute. The journal’s name was changed to its current form in 1983. Long published by Indiana University’s Folklore Institute (which would later become the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology), the journal has been published in its current period in a partnership between the Department and the Indiana University Press. Today the journal is prominently included and heavily used in key services such as JSTOR and Project Muse. It has long maintained a distinctive and international voice in folklore studies and ethnology and has benefitted from a global community of supporters, led by its team of corresponding editors. In keeping with the mandate of its departmental home, the journal has welcomed work by ethnomusicologists throughout its history.
I have learned much shadowing the journal’s able staff throughout the fall and, while Moria begins enjoying life after editing, I will enjoy continuing, in the year ahead, alongside Managing Editor Danille Christensen and Editorial Assistant Miriam Woods. In my preliminary work, I have already learned a tremendous amount about the fields in which JFR publishes. I look forward to the work, and the year, ahead.
Thanks to everyone who has made JFR a success over the past five decades.
Visitors to this site will know that I am involved in a range of projects relating to reform in the scholarly communication system. University presses are a key part of that system. They bring to the current moment a lot of durable skills, values, and useful practices and they have the potential to play a key role in innovating the future.
In this note, I want to put on my author hat and celebrate two modest practices–one a tradition and the other an innovation–in the work of the University of Nebraska Press, the press that I have historically worked most closely with.
Part One: Some Things Never Go Out of Style
As an editor of a small scholarly journal with a reviews program, I spend a lot of time with what used to be called (and sometimes still are called) tear sheets. The term’s origins are in commercial advertising, but it extends logically to journal-based publishing of things like book reviews. When a publisher sends a new book to a journal in the hopes that it will be reviewed, it asks (among other things) that a journal that actually does publish a review send a copy of the final published review to the press’ attention. In the older days (and, in some cases, still today) the obligation was to send two (sometimes more) paper copies of the review to the press’ attention. These days, this task is most often accomplished electronically by sending a PDF of the published review to the attention of the relevant press’ marketing staff. The old name tear sheet refers to actual sheets of paper (with advertisements to send to buyers or reviews to send to publishers) torn from the relevant print edition so that they could then be mailed. (BTW: Shame on those journals who do not live up to their end of this bargain.)
When the reviews get to the press, there are a number of things that can be done with them. It is common for them to be harvested for favorable quotes that get added to a book’s page on the press’ website. In more elaborate operations, such quotes get pushed out to sites like Amazon. A acquisitions editor can use the incoming reviews to guide the development of their “list.” In aggregate, reviews tell editors what kinds of works (and which authors) are being well received. Such intellectual indicators complement quantitative measures as sales numbers.
At the University of Nebraska Press a tradition that many other presses have abandoned is also maintained. It is one that promotes tremendous goodwill with authors and, by extension, furthers the press’ reputation among potential authors. Judging by my experience (I have never discussed the practice with UNP staff.), the UNP marketing staff forwards incoming reviews to authors for their interest and use. Even in an era of such things as Google Alerts, this is a tremendous help to authors. In the wake of the publication of Yuchi Ceremonial Life, copies of these reviews–neatly annotated by press staff with date and place of publication–were mailed to me as they came in. Today, via email, I got from the press a PDF copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education book note appearing in the wake of Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era. This is such a wonderful courtesy. If the new (edited) book is reviewed, I will really appreciate learning of this from the press. Even today, not all journals are richly woven into the digital infrastructure and thus the press will sometimes know of a review before I will. When I mention that UNP does this for authors, all my colleagues are jealous, as few of them have experienced such attention from the presses with which they work. This service is especially valuable to pre-tenure scholars for whom reviews are a crucial resource in route to their tenure cases.
In a time in which academic author have new choices, old courtesies like this can go a long way in maintaining strong relationships with authors.
Part Two: New Things Done the Right Way
Increasingly, university presses aim to promote awareness of their titles by making sample chapters available for free via their websites. This is an inevitable outgrowth of broader practices, such as the views inside books available on sites like Amazon. Typically university presses simply (and it is not exactly simple, of course) make this material available as a PDF download from inside the press’ website on the book’s page. This is a logical thing to do, but it is also a very temporary thing to do, as press websites (like most websites) are very unstable and ephemeral things. They are breeding grounds for link rot and they just do not measure up as preservation environments.
If a press is going to let a sample chapter loose into the digital world, it should do this in a way that advances all of the goals of scholarly communication. This means that if content is going to be freely available, it should be made freely available according to professional best practices. This means curated carefully in a digital environment with attention directed to preservation, metadata, stable URLs, etc.
Kudos and thanks, in this context, to the University of Nebraska Press for working with DigitalCommons @ University of Nebraska-Lincoln (the university’s institutional repository) to make such samples permanently and properly available (with a great cover sheet and good metadata) for the long haul.. I was happy to learn about this effort when I found the introduction to Yuchi Indian History Before the Removal Era deposited there. As such samples clearly generate sales, these practices are self-interested as well as in the interest of the public good.
In a word, thanks to everyone at the University of Nebraska Press for your work to preserve what is good about university presses while we discover new paths forward.
Presented below are remarks prepared for a meeting of Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Department Chairs and Academic Associate Deans hosted by the IUB Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. The focus of the larger gathering was a campus-wide discussion of tenure and promotion issues, with a special emphasis on current draft revisions to campus-level tenure and promotion guidelines. The task assigned to me was to reflect on the place of new forms of scholarly communication in the tenure and promotion mix. Other speakers were recruited to address diversity, interdisciplinarity, and public scholarly engagement. Speakers were grouped into two person panels and allotted five (and only five) minutes for a statement. Ten minutes of discussion was scheduled on each theme following the two presentations.
Because it was a campus-wide event and because it was anticipated by the vice provost that my co-presenter Ruth Stone would speak about issues in the digital humanities, I endeavored to draw my examples from further afield. The brevity of the assignment precluded discussion of many of my favorite examples and many relevant issues (ex: the role of scholarly societies or issues of open access) were not raised at all. To help my listeners find their way to the conversations that I evoked, I offer my text here with the links that oral presentation could not facilitate.
There are countless resources available for the purpose of gaining an introduction to the subject of change in scholarly communication. One very reasonable and appropriate overview–inclusive of a call for wider discussion among researchers–is available in Karla L. Hahn’s (2008) “Talk About Talking About New Models of Scholarly Communication.”
My thanks go to Vice Provost Tom Gieryn for the opportunity to make this presentation.
. . .
While I will use a few examples, my task is to reinforce four general themes that you are probably already are carrying into discussions with your departmental and disciplinary colleagues—change, genres, processes, and metrics.
Change. As reflected in the draft guidelines, junior faculty are pursuing careers that bear less and less resemblance to those of their mentors. As with most forms of cultural change, there will be losses and gains attendant to these shifts. Regardless of our own hopes and fears, we have an obligation to engage with the shifts happening to us. A fringe benefit of moments of discontinuity is that they help us focus more intensively on our persistent core values. How we do peer-assessment and how impactfulness is achieved and assessed are very much in flux, but their centrality as values is not. Read more
This note is an update to yesterday’s post regarding comments made comparing the author agreement used by the American Anthropological Association to the newly changed agreement announced by the Modern Language Association.
In a comment on the original AAA blog post, MLA Executive Director Rosemary Feal confirmed that under the new MLA agreement authors retain their original copyright and are not asked to transfer it to the association in order to be published in its journals.
In a later comment to that AAA blog post and in a follow up posting, Joslyn Osten of the AAA staff confirmed that the AAA author agreement does transfer copyright in accepted works from the author to the association
These confirmations indicate that my observation that the two agreements were distinctive (in a way that I judge to to significant) is accurate.
Along the way, I was pleased to discover something new (to me) about the AAA author agreement. As a former AAA editor, I spent a good bit of time with the author agreements in use during that period (2005-2009). The agreement in use during most of this period is the agreement that has been celebrated as SHERPA/RoMEO green. A key concern that I have had about that agreement was that it did not clarify for potential authors what form (post-print, publisher version, etc.) was allowed to circulate outside the official publications channels. In the new AAA blog post, a link is given to the current AAA author agreement and this document is different from earlier versions in this regard (the relevant language is quoted in the post itself, as well). Clarifying language has been added to item three under the heading “Author’s Rights.” The older version of the author agreement is presently available from the SHERPA/RoMEO website (look up American Anthropological Association to find it). Comparing the recent to the current agreement shows that what was previously called an “article” (in the contexts of retained author rights) is now described as either a “post-print” (a term of art now clearly defined in the agreement) or (quite generously) “uncorrected page proofs”. Allowing authors to circulate “uncorrected page proofs” along the green OA path represents a significant step above and beyond the minimum threshold required to qualify as a green OA publisher. (Post-print is the threshold for green OA. For further information, consult the SHERPA/RoMEO database, particularly its section on “RoMEO Colours.”
I commend the AAA on these improvements to its author agreement. As an observer of such things, I would have been satisfied with the clarification embodied in the move from “article” to “post-print”. That the association has agreed to allow uncorrected page proofs to circulate represents a noteworthy additional step. (I am sure that this shift to include “uncorrected page proofs” is not totally new, its just new to my awareness. It seems likely that it has happened in the past six months given that the change was not discussed at the time of the 2011 AAA meetings at which I spoke on the subject of green OA in the AAA. Allowing the circulation of uncorrected page proofs has its pros and (significant) cons, of course, but, be they what they may, this is what many AAA authors are doing anyway and this shift thus effectively “decriminalizes” a widespread practice among association members.