8. SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATIONS WORKFLOW
(the scholarly and
18. Records of Early
Bucknell African American
Scholarship in 3D
UC Santa Cruz
University of Virginia
Civil War Papers
DIGITAL EDITION PUBLISHING COOPERATIVES
(WITH THE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PUBLICATIONS AND RECORDS COMMISSION)
22. AREAS OF FOCUS
Amount and cost
Promotion and tenure
23. NEW DIGITAL PUBLISHING INFRASTRUCTURE
Art & Architecture
UC Press / Coko
UBC / UW Presses
24. NEW DIGITAL PUBLISHING INFRASTRUCTURE
works in progress
UBC / UW Presses
art & architecture
UC Press / Coko
31. WHAT ABOUT THE READER?
In the emerging system of digital publication, there is little understanding of the
Sufficient for readers to find
and use digital academic
The digital supply chain
Skills in making markets
for digital scholarship
+ marketing skills
Ever since monograph publishing began in university presses in the latter half of the 1800’s, critics have been saying that the monograph is dead or dying, and all the while the production of the monograph has become and remains the gold standard of scholarship in the humanities. Still the context in which it has been produced has been changing. To illustrate some the changes, let me focus on the scholarly workflow at two different levels.
Here is a high level view of the general interrelated functions of the scholarly communications process.
Now for some of the context. As this workflow has become increasingly digital, the returns to scale have become increasingly apparent, even before the enormous growth beginning in the nineties. The economies of digitally-based scholarly communications are realized outside individual academic institutions in various collaborative organizations, such as OCLC and ICPSR.
Through the nineties and into the early aughts these organizations begin to grow.
But a tipping point was reached in the late aughts and early teens, and by now the digital economy is flourishing in all parts of the scholarly communications workflow.
These changes have been wrenching and disruptive, and produced considerable energy and investment in ways to accommodate the academy to the new digital modes of scholarly communications. As in other moments of extreme economic disruption, such as the industrial revolution, some of the responses have distinct utopian qualities in their quest for simpler expressions of a new complexity. Some arguments that the products of scholarly communication should be made available on an open access basis or that the academy needs to retain control of its workflow have some of these utopian qualities. But my point today is to take an even closer look at the scholarly workflow and explore where that tipping point to digital scale occurs and what some of its implications are, especially for scholarly publishing in the humanities.
Let me start with a brief schematic of the research workflow that scholars tend to follow in the humanities.
Here is a representation of how these functions have become digital, with standards at one level and…
…a variety of tools, at another. Many of these tools the Mellon Foundation has helped fund. Scholars have now been incorporating these and other digital tools in their work and producing new digital research products. Universities and colleges around the country have been adopting these tools in digital humanities programs and teaching them to their students. And the digital medium is becoming ever more pervasive among the student and general audiences that faculty in the humanities are trying to reach. The point is that the tipping point to digital occurs when the workflow fills out with reliable tools, which it has largely done in many areas of the sciences and social sciences and is now beginning to do in many areas of the humanities.
So what is the problem? The pioneers of digital scholarship have long complained that they were having difficulty disseminating the results of their digitally-based research to readers and getting credit for it because [CLICK] there are few established outlets for them to publish monographs and other long-form works using the affordances of the digital medium. The publishing system was not just missing standards and tools, but also the peer review apparatus that is so essential for validating scholarly work. Now that the digital workflow is filling out and more scholars are investing in them, the demand is growing for publication outlets on at least two fronts.
On one hand there is the publishing of scholarly editions and on the other is monograph publishing.
The research workflow as outlined here very closely maps the activities that lead to the production of scholarly editions, with their versions of primary sources and related scholarly apparatus, including explication of named entities and other annotations and arguments.
REED London: 9 collaborating institutions; Civil War Papers: 7 collaborating institutions; 19th Century American Culture: 7 collaborating institutions; African American Freedom Struggle: 5 collaborating institutions; ARCScholar: 12 collaborating institutions; Scholarship in 3D: 12 collaborating institutions; Historical Accounts: 8 collaborating institutions; American History: 6 collaborating institutions (average # of collaborating institutions = 8.25)
Let’s turn now to the monograph, one of the other major outputs of scholarly research in the humanities. Here is a simplified view of publishing in general, with its major players: the Author, the Publisher, and the Reader. [CLICK] The author submits work to the publisher which edits the work and requests revisions until it is ready to go to market and sell the work to readers.
The scholarly publishing system is more complex, because it has to take some other factors into account: [CLICK] For example, universities and colleges demand peer review to validate the work, which provides a basis for promotion and tenure. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, to keep presses in business, there are university subsidies, not just directly to the presses, but also through the operating budgets of libraries that buy the works, add them to their collections, and help readers find them. Our monograph initiative is meant to enhance the infrastructure of this scholarly publishing system so that it can accommodate the new digital modes of scholarly research.
We are now 48 months into this initiative. We have made a total of 52 grants for a total of $19.6 million.
Within this initiative our grantmaking has addressed specific areas to help presses, professional associations, and authors understand where improvements need to happen, how they should happen, and what it takes to sustain them over the long-term. To these ends, we have:
● [click] Commissioned studies on how much it costs to produce monographs and to determine what, more precisely, those costs are; surprisingly, presses find it difficult to account for and control the costs of key activities, especially acquisition and the costs of editing.
● [click] Explored alternative business models, such as author subsidies (AAU/ARL/AAUP) and a reconsideration of institutional and disciplinary support structures.
● [click] Addressed intellectual property issues through encouraging implementation of fair use principles.
-- We funded the College Art Association to develop fair use guidelines for the visual arts, which Yale University Press applied in another grant,
-- Yale Press determined that the publication of many images in art and architectural history books would be a fair use, reducing high costs of securing permissions for reproducing works of art in their platform
● [click] Supported certain professional associations to develop guidance for evaluation of digital scholarship, including its publication - these include the CAA as well as the American Historical Association
● [click] Advanced new infrastructure for university presses - these include projects to support the integration and preservation of multimedia content in digital publications.
● [click] Started to foster a community of authors committed to publishing digital scholarship but struggling with how to do so in the absence of press and even university infrastructure to support it. Developing this community is as important as developing the technology that will enable these authors’ works to be published beyond the confines of a print monograph.
To these points about our focus areas, we’ve funded an array of infrastructure projects that are providing support for disciplines such as art and architectural history and indigenous studies, as well as support for interactive digital scholarship and long-term access to multimedia objects that appear in published digital scholarship.
Last fall, we had an all-projects meeting to which we invited the project teams for many of these grants, and a chief benefit of the gathering was an understanding of how this array of efforts is now being aligned into a structure, like…[NEXT]
…this - A New Digital Publishing Infrastructure, composed of four key elements or components:
A production component - which covers the systems and frameworks necessary for supporting production workflows and processes.
A content component - various presses are specializing in support for certain types of content, such as:
● multimedia content – in which access is not only through the work of digital scholarship but also through a digital repository where the multimedia is preserved
● works in progress that depend on iterations, commentary, and sharing of drafts
● primary sources for indigenous studies
● scholarly works that are interactive in nature
A service component that, for example, takes care of digital publishing operations for presses so they can focus much more on the acquisition and development of high-quality scholarship.
And a distribution component, which is important for dissemination and discovery of open content but also takes into account the need to integrate annotation capabilities in the reading experience and to address the challenges of preserving, as well as publishing, digital content.
Let me dwell for a moment longer on the service component. John Sherer has proposed a new approach to digital monograph publishing that has great promise and Mellon just funded a large scale experiment it to it. Most scholars recognize that there are two types of monograph. Both represent solid scholarship but one, because of the timeliness of its subject, its writing style, or other factors succeeds in crossing over to in the market to wide popularity. It is often difficult in advance to tell which is which, and no scholar is prepared to say in advance that his or her work is not likely to reach a broad audience.
As a result, in traditional “print first” publishing, university presses tend to give both types of book that same treatment, which costs the same. The presses then hold their breath hoping some will indeed cross-over, and generate enough revenue to cross-subsidize the small market books.
The experiment that UNC will conduct with up to 150 books over the next few years is to flip the model, and give all the books the same “digital first” treatment. Requiring subsidies for the $7,000-10,000 costs to produce an open access monograph. They will rely on usage to make data-driven decisions about which books desire the royal treatment of advanced formatting, perhaps additional editing and design, and the costs of a print run, and they will fund these additional costs via market sales, while leaving the core text available on an open access basis.
Already, we understand that for this new approach to take hold, there will need to be a much stronger effort to collect, normalize, and aggregate usage data. Mellon earlier this year made a grant to industry collaborative led by the Book Industry Standards Group to address this huge problem.
Remember that two sides of the publishing equation include the author and the publisher. A large part of Mellon’s investment is to build out the digital infrastructure available to university presses. As we do that It is also important to support the community of authors trying to publish their digital scholarship so that they are not working in silos and unaware of the emerging infrastructure and not in networks that can make presses aware of how the infrastructure may fall short of their needs.
[Click] Faculty creating digital works need support in the form of design and developmental editing, and in placing the work with suitable publishers. We have various grants exploring university-based support for publishing, many of which are engaging librarians, archivists, technologists, and designers in helping scholars realize digital publication. We are also seeing requests for supporting more discipline-based digital scholarship, such as in history.
All of this represents a realignment of services traditionally provided by the university press. It has become evident there is an infrastructure need beyond presses - such as what libraries, central IT, and humanities centers can provide, for example - that could be supporting presses more intentionally in complementary ways.
[Click] In building this community of authors, we are also seeing a rearrangement of the division of labor from university presses to universities on the editing and agency fronts. And not only does it raise the question of institutional versus disciplinary focus, it also introduces a(n unstated) question of: how many institutions do we need to help to tip this model into a sustainable one?
Here you can see the array of institutions we have supported and some of the approaches with which they are experimenting. We have hosted an all-projects meeting for these grantees and are planning another that would join them up with the press projects.
Although our grantmaking in support of digital monograph publishing has been fairly comprehensive, we’ve given little attention to the reader, the reading experience, and how readers might encounter the new digital scholarship that these new platforms and services are producing.
Some considerations to weigh are:
[Click] First, the recent and growing structural alignment of libraries with presses signals, in part, an attempt to address a big, unanswered question: are Amazon and Google sufficient for readers to find and use academic digital works?
[Click] Second, the digital “supply chain” from academic press to reader is underdeveloped, especially for open-access works, and requires an investment in digital marketing. How these marketing costs will be afforded has hardly been examined much less addressed.
[Click] And third, it has to be said that without skill in making markets for digital scholarship, sustainable business models for digital publishing will elude the academy.
There are other aspects to reading experiences, as most of us who are humanities scholars in this room know. Think about when you read a book or article for your research and what you do to the text as you note-take, absorb, reflect, check other sources, and even debate, in the margins, with the argument you’re reading. Where is the platform that caters to this type of deep reading that scholars crave in a digital environment, without excessive compromises to the act of reading itself? Is the iAnnotate app on a tablet device all that a scholar can hope for? Another consideration is accessibility. As university presses transition to publishing more digital monographs, then they’ll also need to take into account accessibility needs and other ADA-compliance issues for purposes of equity and inclusion. Partnerships between presses and organizations that specialize in accessibility support and compliance will be especially key.
If the monograph is to live even longer, digitally reinvented, then we know that being more committed to improving the reading experience has to be a significant, if not a primary, aim in future grantmaking in this initiative.