Challenges and Changes in Publishing, Spotlight on Classical Studies Part II: Multi-modal Publishing in the Humanities
|March 21, 2020||Posted by Rebecca Stuhr under Professional Development, Publishing|
Read Part I
Multi-modality is unavoidable when researching the ancient world. Scholars rely on primary evidence derived from multiple physical and virtual formats. How can we represent this cornucopia of possible evidence in a way that makes it intuitive for an audience and that is affordable for publishers?
Libraries offer one solution through their institutional repositories (IRs). IRs can handle multiple media formats from music samples, to 3D imagery, to video, to interactive maps. IRs notably provide permanent links and DOIs for digital artifacts, and their best practices include long-term storage, accessibility, and portability. Scholars and publishers can work with their libraries to take advantage of this service. IRs are highly discoverable via Google and Google Scholar searches, and discovery of your supporting media will raise the discoverability of and direct the public to your published work even if the final version is not openly accessible.
Multi-modal Sites To Explore
Open Context, founded by archaeologists Eric and Sarah Whicher Kansa, is funded by the NEH, IMLS, Hewlett Foundation, and the NSF. Exploring Open Context will introduce you to a different paradigm for publishing. Open Context’s goals resonate with traditional publishing, but they emphasize replication and reusability, sharing, and an open path for enriching and fostering future research. Open Context publishes documents, field notes, diaries, images and maps, vocabularies and typologies, artifact and “ecofact” data. Items receive stable identifiers for online and offline citation. Open Context strives to interlink its data to other research repositories in order to raise discoverability and use across the wider universe of information. Publishing services do come with a fee. Significantly, Open Context creates partnerships with academic presses to provide the printed text with the data and evidence that support arguments and findings. Additionally, Open Context’s editorial board assists contributors with the cleaning and organizing of their data. The Digital Archaeological Record, tDAR, is a not-for-profit that provides similar services for small fees. tDar allows you to “identify digital documents, data sets, images, and other kinds of archaeological data for a number of uses, including research, learning, and teaching.” Both Open Context and tDar are committed to long term preservation.
The Humanities Commons began as an initiative of the Modern Language Association (MLACommons). It expanded to incorporate three other humanities associations, Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Euroasian Studies (ASEEScommons) the Association for Jewish Studies (AJScommons), and the visual arts association, College Art Association (CAAcommons). Any individual can engage with the materials in the HumanitiesCommons, although association members have additional privileges. The site provides a venue for a professional presence, discussion of common interests, and development of scholarly works in a system that facilitates collaboration and comment. Unlike some of the other academic sharing sites that we’ve become familiar with during the past decade (Academia.edu or ResearchGate, for instance), HumanitiesCommons is open-access, open-source, and not-for-profit. HumanitiesCommons just received a $500,000 challenge grant from the NEH, which will support the project’s long-term sustainability. Kathleen Fitzpatrick was the Director for Scholarly Communication at the MLA at the inception of the Commons and largely responsible for the early development and concept of the MLACommons. She is still the project director. Fitzpatrick has experimented with these new approaches with her own work. She blogged extensively about the content for her recently released book, Generous Thinking, while it was in progress. Fitzpatrick also arranged with her publisher, Johns Hopkins UP, to have an open peer review of her book. Fitzpatrick is a co-founder of MediaCommons, which supports scholarly innovation in media studies.
While there may be challenges due to departmental or institutional policies and politics, there is also a certain inevitability about this new face of publishing. The highly commercialized and profit centered practices that have grown up around science publishing are not compatible with the very different set of resources, priorities, and needs in the humanities. Disciplines working with ancient philology, texts, and archaeology are set to lead the way – because of the inter-disciplinary-multi-disciplinary nature of the field, the multi-modal nature of the evidence scholars rely on, and the broader field’s history of applying and experimenting at the cutting edge of technology.