Academic Publishing

Facilitator: Marcos Wasem

Provocateurs: John Willinsky, Nick Carbone, Ron Musto, and Eileen Gardiner

C 202

In this workshop, we will address issues concerning scholarly research and publication and the ways digital distribution of academic content affects the politics of knowledge access. The growing use of online databases and portals to conduct scholarly research, and the increasing ease and speed of digital content delivery offer an opportunity and a challenge to the ways publishing have been practiced in the academy. This workshop on academic publishing (which will include academic journals, monographs, and textbooks) will focus on developing sustainable models for a new economy of academic publication, and will analyze new methods of scholarly interaction, paying particular attention to the ways we conceive ownership and control of academic discourse.

Questions to ponder:

  • What are the digital “best practices” that can ensure the academic quality, cost effectiveness and faster “turn around” of scholarly publications?
  • What are the best ethical and practical choices we can make to help assure the right of the general public to access scholarly knowledge?
  1. Nick Carbone
    April 26th, 2010 at 19:33 | #1

    In the workshop, the issue/question of sustainability came up. Part of my concern has to do with the sustainability of higher education overall: how programs and departments can afford to hire, promote, and tenure professor who do the research and academic work needed to promote publishing no matter how it is delivered.

    This post by Michael Feldstein on whether college pricing –and student funding of that pricing via increased loans — is an economic bubble about to collapse gets at one of my underlying fears: the passing on of fees and tuition to students and the costs of institutions of higher education, how they are run, and how learning is situated and delivered is itself on an unsustainable path:

  2. David Stolarz
    April 22nd, 2010 at 22:39 | #2

    It was interesting to hear about web hit counters as measures of validity for knowledge sharing. While questionable a method, at best, it sill exists. For example, I submitted a video to the CUNY Sustainability contest, but am way behind in the Views.

    If you feel the urge to help out an neophyte new media publisher, please do me a favor and view my video, and ask your friends to view it. The other submissions have over 300 Views since yesterday! It is only 2 minutes long, and uses GIS maps from CUNY. Thank you if you can, and even if you can’t!

    It was an all day source of pleasure to be part of the discussions. Thank you!

  3. April 20th, 2010 at 23:56 | #3

    Thank you all for your contributions. Again, I encourage everyone interested in the issue of academic publishing, to discuss it in this page. I’m sure we will have an interesting workshop tomorrow morning. We will be in room C202 at the Graduate Center, CUNY at 10:00 a.m.

  4. Nick Carbone
    April 19th, 2010 at 17:47 | #4

    While increased digitalization offers new opportunities, it has emerged over the past two or three decades during which the human resources of colleges and universities have been stressed, especially in the humanities. The loss of tenure line positions, and in recessionary times, the loss of research funding sources, means there are fewer people in traditional academic positions to do the peer review which matters, to do the research and scholarly writing, that defines academic disciplines.

    How will new scholarly outlets and possibilities sustain themselves when the scholars who drive those initiatives might become unable to remain in the field? What happens to peer review in age of explosive publishing — more places for scholars to place their work — in fields with fewer peers, and perhaps fewer readers? What are the economies of attention going to be — what will be found and read and discussed and become a field’s touchstone pieces, the oft-cited works future scholars will be required to read in their graduate school apprenticeships?

    Perhaps our fields, to get to the second question, will need to find a scholarship that can speak more fully to the general public, and not only to our specialized and much smaller public of colleagues with similar training. The ethical future of a more open scholarship might have to become a scholarship that is more accessible to general public. Or put another way, if we are going to create a scholarship that prospers while tenure declines and departments shrink and funding is harder to find, a scholarship that lives in digital spaces open to more than decreasing numbers of collegial subscribers who can sustain specialized journals, then we may find, ineluctably, that our exposure to a broader public will lead us to write for and to engage that audience, will make us public intellectuals by default.

  5. April 16th, 2010 at 18:43 | #5

    After more than twenty years doing digital humanities we’re left with only more questions. After a series of high-profile digital projects were launched — “Who Built America,” “Valley of the Shadow,” Gutenberg-e, the History Co-op, ACLS Humanities E-Book — sustainability remains the key issue for both long-term access and preservation of these scholarly resources. Has our “habitus” of reading caught up with technological innovation? As John Willinsky has noted, older publishing models must evolve with changing environments — especially in the face of Google and other large-scale commercial forces. At the same time, old utopian and ideological divides over sustainability — open-access, private funding, subscription models — must be bridged in favor of reality-based solutions that account for the shifting of resources and power in the academic community. Who will pay to sustain these solutions? and who will benefit? The audience? the producer? the university/foundation/sponsor/patron? How best can we guarantee efficient, sustained, long-term, and democratic funding for research and publication that benefits both the profession that produces it and the public who uses it? The digital begs the question anew: who is our public? In the relationship among scholars, libraries, publishers and readers are we beginning to see continuums, or continuing contests?

  6. April 16th, 2010 at 18:43 | #6

    Scholarly publishing must be sustained as professional publishing. But what does “professional” mean? Should the university presses be bolstered, dismantled, or reintegrated into the broader university agendas and communities? Is there an ideal model? How can they be reinvigorated to retain their service to the academic and broader public? After ten years is the “Library as Publisher” a reality? Are the older models of evaluating and distributing academic production still working. Who is prepared to stream in the most efficient and cost-effective means possible the vast new supplies of information into the electronic forms that meet the needs of scholarly and more popular audiences for peer reviewed, reliable, replicable and citable texts? The archiving, cataloging and access roles of the library are essential but are they publishing yet? How are the old forms — the one-up web site produced by individual scholars, the monograph, the journal — evolving under the pressures of new supply and demand? What are the new scholarly forms and are they meeting the needs of both the professional researcher and the broader public? What else needs to be done? Are we beginning to see convergences?

  7. April 15th, 2010 at 16:24 | #7

    @John Willinsky

    Thanks, John, for your contribution. I would like to encourage everyone interested in the issue of academic publishing under the new conditions created by the growing use of digital formats, to discuss it in this page and to take the debate to our workshop on Aprli 21 at 10 am at the Graduate Center. We’ll be located at the C Level.

    I’ve personally grown interested in the possibilities these formats offer after the experience I did at the Graduate Center, as co-editor of LL Journal, using the Open Journal Systems that you contributed to create. It is a journal we publish at the Ph.D. Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages. OJS multilingual support feature allowed us to publish a tri-lingual journal in Spanish, Portuguese and English as well. It proven to be an excellent platform to create a real academic exchange across national borders, one that allows us to confront different academic cultures.

  8. April 12th, 2010 at 23:01 | #8

    Apart from a widely but not universally accepted best practice such as peer review — and not so much for “ensuring” as contributing to academic quality — I think that this is more of a time for experimentation in scholarly publication, for testing and mixing various economic models, for sharing information, forming new partnerships (e..g., library and publishers), and developing open systems and platforms. Given the scale of the changes in the publishing medium, what worked best only a decade ago is full of new possibilities today with regard to both questions (e.g., cost effectiveness and greater, if not general, access).

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