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Reimagining the Monograph - AAUP 2017 Annual Meeting

Monographs are increasingly making the print-to-digital shift that journals started twenty years ago, opening up new possibilities for the ways that a long-form argument can be presented and communicated. Yet a richer online environment for scholarly monographs has not come to pass, or at least not at scale. In October 2016, JSTOR Labs, an experimental platform development group at JSTOR, convened a group of scholars, librarians, and publishers to unpack the design issues around the presentation of digital monographs. The group proposed a set of principles for reimagining the presentation of monographs in order to improve the user experience and increase the value of ebooks to scholars. In this presentation, we will introduce these principles, which are outlined in a new white paper available at http://labs.jstor.org/monograph and demonstrate a prototype that the JSTOR Labs group built based on the working group’s feedback: a topic-based navigational aid for monographs called Topicgraph. We will reflect on the implications of these principles for authors, researchers, libraries and publishers. Last, we will contemplate next steps for this work and explore and seek audience input on potential future prototypes and directions. This slide deck includes the results from an activity with the audience, which they voted on potential future prototypes.

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REIMAGINING
THE MONOGRAPH
AAUP Annual Conference 2017
June 12, 2017
Alex Humphreys, JSTOR Labs
@abhumphreys
Laura Mandell, Texas A&M
@mandellc
Charles Watkinson, U Michigan Publishing
@charleswatkinso
ITHAKA is a not-for-profit organization that helps the academic
community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record
and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit
digital library of academic
journals, books, and
primary sources.
Ithaka S+R is a not-for-profit
research and consulting
service that helps academic,
cultural, and publishing
communities thrive in the
digital environment.
Portico is a not-for-profit
preservation service for
digital publications, including
electronic journals, books,
and historical collections.
Artstor provides 2+ million
high-quality images and
digital asset management
software to enhance
scholarship and teaching.
JSTOR Labs works with partner publishers, libraries and
labs to create tools for researchers, teachers and students
that are immediately useful – and a little bit magical.
labs.jstor.org/monograph
REIMAGINING THE MONOGRAPH
HOW WE DID IT
WORKING
RAPIDLY
Can we improve the
experience and value of
long-form scholarship?
Aug-Sep: User Research
Oct: Workshop
Nov: Build Prototype
Dec: Release Paper/Prototype

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Reimagining the Monograph - AAUP 2017 Annual Meeting

  • 1. REIMAGINING THE MONOGRAPH AAUP Annual Conference 2017 June 12, 2017 Alex Humphreys, JSTOR Labs @abhumphreys Laura Mandell, Texas A&M @mandellc Charles Watkinson, U Michigan Publishing @charleswatkinso
  • 2. ITHAKA is a not-for-profit organization that helps the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. JSTOR is a not-for-profit digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. Ithaka S+R is a not-for-profit research and consulting service that helps academic, cultural, and publishing communities thrive in the digital environment. Portico is a not-for-profit preservation service for digital publications, including electronic journals, books, and historical collections. Artstor provides 2+ million high-quality images and digital asset management software to enhance scholarship and teaching.
  • 3. JSTOR Labs works with partner publishers, libraries and labs to create tools for researchers, teachers and students that are immediately useful – and a little bit magical.
  • 6. WORKING RAPIDLY Can we improve the experience and value of long-form scholarship? Aug-Sep: User Research Oct: Workshop Nov: Build Prototype Dec: Release Paper/Prototype
  • 8. WHAT WE LEARNED: DIVERSITY & ROUTINE They employed a wide diversity of activities and approaches, each honed and “owned” by the participant. They had strong preferences for print or digital depending on use case, but obstructions often forced them outside of their preferred modes. They used a great variety of devices, programs, apps & analog tools that accompanied work with the monograph.
  • 9. WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
  • 12. labs.jstor.org/topicgraph TOPICGRAPH Understand at a glance the topics covered in a book. Jump straight to pages about topics you’re researching.
  • 13. A PEEK UNDER THE HOOD • JSTOR Thesaurus is a controlled vocabulary of 40k terms • LDA Topic Model to uncover latent topics • Webapp code available: https://github.com/JSTOR-Labs/topicgraph
  • 14. SAME ENGINE, DIFFERENT BODY Use your own document to search for articles and books. www.jstor.org/analyze
  • 16. WHITE PAPER Released today! Describes the project, process & prototype Includes 13 principles to consider when reimagining the monograph labs.jstor.org/monograph
  • 17. 1. The importance of great writing is a given.
  • 18. 2. The ideal digital monograph should allow different kinds of readers to navigate it in different ways.
  • 19. 3. Readers should be given better tools to assess the content of scholarly books quickly and efficiently.
  • 20. 4. Readers should be able to navigate more quickly to the portion of the book they are interested in.
  • 21. 5. Readers should be given better capabilities for situating a book within the larger scholarly conversation.
  • 22. 6. Readers should be able to ‘flip’ between sections of a digital monograph as easily as they can in a print book.
  • 23. 7. In an ideal world, readers would be able to work simultaneously with both a print and digital edition.
  • 24. 8. It should be easier to use digital books simultaneously with other scholarly resources, including primary texts, reference works, journal articles, and other books.
  • 25. 9. Books should be able to ‘travel’ easily from device to device.
  • 26. 10. Readers should be able to interact with and mark up digital books.
  • 27. 11. Readers should be able to interact with books in collaborative environments.
  • 28. 12. Ideally, digital book collections and aggregations would offer serendipitous discovery—the “library stacks” effect.
  • 29. 13. Digital scholarly book files should be open and flexible.
  • 30. 1. The importance of great writing is a given. 2. The ideal digital monograph should allow different kinds of readers to navigate it in different ways. 3. Readers should be given better tools to assess the content of scholarly books quickly and efficiently. 4. Readers should be able to navigate more quickly to the portion of the book they are interested in. 5. Readers should be given better capabilities for situating a book within the larger scholarly conversation. 6. Readers should be able to ‘flip’ between sections of a digital monograph as easily as they can in a print book. 7. In an ideal world, readers would be able to work simultaneously with both a print and digital edition. 8. It should be easier to use digital books simultaneously with other scholarly resources, including primary texts, reference works, journal articles, and other books. 9. Books should be able to ‘travel’ easily from device to device. 10. Readers should be able to interact with and mark up digital books. 11. Readers should be able to interact with books in collaborative environments. 12. Ideally, digital book collections and aggregations would offer serendipitous discovery—the “library stacks” effect. 13. Digital scholarly book files should be open and flexible. THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES
  • 31. 1. The importance of great writing is a given. 2. The ideal digital monograph should allow different kinds of readers to navigate it in different ways. 3. Readers should be given better tools to assess the content of scholarly books quickly and efficiently. 4. Readers should be able to navigate more quickly to the portion of the book they are interested in. 5. Readers should be given better capabilities for situating a book within the larger scholarly conversation. 6. Readers should be able to ‘flip’ between sections of a digital monograph as easily as they can in a print book. 7. In an ideal world, readers would be able to work simultaneously with both a print and digital edition. 8. It should be easier to use digital books simultaneously with other scholarly resources, including primary texts, reference works, journal articles, and other books. 9. Books should be able to ‘travel’ easily from device to device. 10. Readers should be able to interact with and mark up digital books. 11. Readers should be able to interact with books in collaborative environments. 12. Ideally, digital book collections and aggregations would offer serendipitous discovery—the “library stacks” effect. 13. Digital scholarly book files should be open and flexible. THIRTEEN PRINCIPLES
  • 32. “The reimagined monograph – whatever that ultimately means – will not be built in a single step, or by a single organization.”
  • 51. APPENDIX (OPEN IN CASE OF NO INTERNET CONNECTION)
  • 54. REIMAGINING THE MONOGRAPH A Digital Humanities Perspective
  • 64. 63
  • 67. @mandellc 66 “Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general nature.” Samuel Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare, 1765
  • 68. @mandellc 67 Any annotation tweeted and retweeted, then “surfaced” by editors, is to be included in the new Monograph as VRE Digital Multigraph

Editor's Notes

  1. demo
  2. The most important thing is the content. New designs and tools can give readers new ways of interacting with books, but those tools shouldn’t obscure the integrity of the longform argument as a complete narrative – it should be a window or passage to that longform argument. And when a reader takes that path, sometimes the best thing we can do for users is get out of the way of the author’s words and argument.
  3. We saw this in our user research: there are a wide variety of readers, working in a variety of ways. We tracked four distinct, common user needs: citation mining, extracting specific information, immersive reading and revisiting a text. The ideal digital monograph would allow users to switch easily from mode to mode, and even detect which mode the researcher is in. For example, a digital monograph might allow the reader to seamlessly switch between reading and annotation modes.
  4. Readers have been complaining about “too much information” since forever, since the Dead Sea Scrolls. (“These stacks of papyrus, I just can’t keep up!”) And the problem has only gotten bigger. Readers need tools to help them understand quickly if something is worth reading and is relevant to their research and teaching. These could be machine-generated – like Topicgraph – or it could be a scholarly version of Goodreads.
  5. Goal-oriented tasks like homing in on extended passages on specific topics or searching for facts to support an argument depend on the accuracy of the book’s index, the specificity of chapter titles and the likelihood that a keyword search will be successful. These are all useful tools, but there are failure points, and we can do better.
  6. A quick scan of a book’s references is a quick way to understand which lines of scholarly inquiry the author is working within. But it can be labor intensive to follow these manually, and they only point backward. We should make it easier to trace the book – or even its constituent parts, the chapter, the idea – from its scholarly ancestors through to those that have been influenced by this book.
  7. Jumping from the text to endnotes and back, or going from the index to the actual text, can be slow and burdensome in digital formats like PDF, especially when each chapter is its own pdf. It should be easier.
  8. Researchers don’t only work in digital. They might read and annotate in their print book, but then copy sections into their citation management system. This beautifully drawn picture shows a digital reader that’s aware of what print page a researcher is on. (more practically, standardizing the pagination between print and digital could be helpful).
  9. As one librarian told us, “A given book is readable and usable when the right other books are open next to it.” IN a digital context, this means interoperability, perhaps made possible through standard identifiers like ORCID and ISNI. This could facilitate tighter linkage between a book with the datasets that underlie, as is supported by the Fulcrum publishing platform.
  10. Books should sync as readers move seamlessly across devices. Not only that, but each experience should be optimized for the device being used. For example, on a desktop screen, it might be optimized for comparing and annotating across texts, while on phones for swiping and tapping through more goal oriented tasks, and on tablets for an immersive reading experience.
  11. Alright, for this one, I’m going to tell you a story. One researcher reached out to us after this project went live and shared his working practice. Every book that he reads, if it’s not available in DRM-free pdfs that he can mark up and annotate, he pays to digitize into drm-free PDFs, which he then annotates using Adobe Acrobat, so that all his notes are in one place and searchable. If he finds a book in the stacks that he needs and it isn’t available digitally, he’ll pay to scan the whole book and then he’ll annotate that.
  12. Reading needn’t always be solitary; it can be collaborative. In a classroom setting, for instance, the ability to collectively annotate a text – whether publicly or semi-privately – can enhance the experience for all.
  13. Books aren’t end points, they are also jumping off points for additional inquiry. Readers would get this by browsing the stacks when they find a book they are interested in – this experience has been precisely replicated with Harvard’s Stacklife project, which shows ebooks in a stack next to similar books. With browse-able taxonomies and content recommenders, it should be possible to go much further with this idea.
  14. This is as much a design question as a business question. I’ve already described the one researcher who pays to digitize his own books so that he can have them without DRM. One workshop participant who works with text-mining said she needs a system that didn’t force her to “read the book as if it were under glass.” In order to give ourselves the flexibility we needed, we limited our work on Topicgraph to OA titles. Whether there is a way support this openness and flexibility while ensuring sustainability for the scholarly publishing system is a larger question than we could address with this project.
  15. We’re going to do with you what we did the day after the Columbia workshop. We’re going to go through 4 different ideas – we’ll vote on each individually, and then ask a few questions about all of them together. We want feedback on the ideas, not the sketches or designs themselves.
  16. The Book as Gateway. Use a single book to discover and browse related material by subject or topic. This sketch shows one way we might do that: start with the whole book or select the most relevant chapters, then flag if you want to find content in jstor, your library or all of OCLC. You can then browse the Library of Congress shelf or browse a custom, virtual shelf based on a collection of topics and terms you’re interested in.
  17. The Book Dashboard lets you dive into a book and slice and dice it in a dozen different ways. This sketch shows one way we might do that: a dashboard page showing topics, people, places, related content, citations, and statistically improbably phrases. Look at these over the whole book, or drill into just one chapter or section to see the detail.
  18. The Scholarly Reader is a Kindle for scholarly reading. For example, it might have a clean reading experience, but double tap a section to flag it for later, highlight to annotate. Swipe up to navigate the book or discovery related material. Swipe down to see notes – both the author’s and your own annotations. You can export your notes and citations or sync them with your research manager.
  19. The Citation Mixer lets you make a list of books and articles and then analyze the combined set of references. For example, once you have a list, it might sort through them to find the most commonly-cited articles and book, showing both direct references and indirect references.