Notes from Oct. 24th DCAL Publishing Discussion

Just a few quick notes from yesterday (Wednesday)’s fabulous DCAL lunchtime roundtable on faculty publishing – challenges, changes, and new initiatives – all reflecting back on Open Access week, a time to step back and consider the access and impact of scholarship, and how we as a community want to ensure the widest possible and most sustainable dissemination and preservation of research.

Michelle Cox, the Institute for Writing & Rhetoric’s new multilingual specialist, talked about the WAC Clearinghouse, – a prominent gateway or, well, clearinghouse for scholarly publications in writing (WAC=Writing Across the Curriculum).  The WAC has been in existence for 15 years now; it hosts six referred, open-access scholarly journals on academic writing and education in writing, books, and other resources – some new books and book series (the 25 Collective is an initiative to publish 25 new scholarly books in five years, providing a much-needed publishing venue in the face of shrinking publishing opportunities and markets) and some classic books that otherwise would have gone out of print (digitized and made available with publisher permission).  There’s a fabulous OA textbook initiative also.   Discussion and questions at the DCAL lunch centered on questions about open peer review (an interesting idea), funding and sustainability (possible models – sustaining memberships from supporting institutions, like arXiv; support from an affiliated scholarly society; also important to look at website data to track use, downloads, impact and geographic reach).

Amy Allen, Professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, shifted the discussion to academic publishing in the humanities and talked about two important open access publishing ventures that she’s been involved with, one the well-known Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the other Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Speaking with experience from many sides of the world of scholarly publishing, as editor, author, and researcher, Amy commented that she sees the significant advantages of these new models, – continuous updating of online content, quick publication of scholarly book reviews (six months as opposed to years in other academic philosophy journals), and in the case of one new publication, access to needed research for researchers in locations and from institutions worldwide in developing areas that otherwise would not have access.   Like Michelle, Amy also talked about the increasing difficulty of getting that first book published; the publishing market has contracted, and it’s increasingly common for university presses and academic publishers to require a subvention from the would-be author (read: pay us $5000 to publish your book).   This has got to create a problem for academic institutions as far as the advancement of their junior faculty is concerned (especially at institutions where the research of junior faculty is less well supported than at Dartmouth); yet tenure expectations are still tightly linked to the publication of scholarly monographs, preferably at a prestigious university press.

David Peart, Professor of Biology, talked about Elementa, the new publishing venture just announced as a partnership between Dartmouth and the non-profit publisher BioOne.   Elementa:  Science of the Anthropocene will address some specific challenges in publishing in the natural sciences that are different than those in the humanities and the social sciences.  Think of it as a publishing platform rather than a traditional journal; articles will be continuously published, appearing as soon as they are ready for publication; freely available to all; broadly interdisciplinary by design, with six subject domains encompassing different earth systems and human impact on them (the anthropocene part):  Atmospheric Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Ecology, Ocean Science, Sustainable Engineering; and Sustainability Sciences — each with an editor- or editors-in-chief at one of the partner research institutions (Dartmouth, University of Michigan, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology).  Sustainability sciences is the broad domain to be co-edited by David Peart and Anne Kapuscinski, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science.   Elementa will host and support the archiving of datasets, and will facilitate researcher interaction with data and with components of the published article (such as tables, multimedia) through individual DOI registration of these discrete elements.   Free and open dissemination and global impact are key to this venture and to sustainability generally, – policymakers, NGOs, regulators and private-sector / corporate audiences are an essential part of the readership for this journal, as well as the academic scientific community.

Whew- these were supposed to be short notes!  It was a great discussion.   See the Open Access week calendar of events for more info including details on tomorrow’s discussions on COPE and copyright.

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