Desiderata for Digital Scholarly Publications/Digital University Presses and Imprints

Following up on the proposal by William Deal and perhaps combinable with it. Stockton is considering setting up its own digital press/imprint.  I’m interested in brainstorming/hacking a set of features/services that scholars producing digital materials not directly connected to their home institutions ought to expect from the publishers of their digital work. In traditional print publications, scholars were rarely expected to have input on the production side, but born digital projects often must specify the form that the final project will take as part of the development process. If production/coding/design expertise must be built into the project team from the outset, does that imply that the publishing site must also be agreed upon before the work is started? Or is the role of digital publisher merely editing/peer review/quality control? Or even further, are we reaching a point where the coding/design of sites is becoming sufficiently standardized that a form of “production handoff” similar to print is coming soon? (Unlikely, I think) As part of this session, I would propose generating a census of effective digital scholarly publications with information on the “publishers” and when and how they became involved in the project. My suspicion is that they are overwhelming published at digital centers by people directly associated with those centers. If that is the case, will the expansion of digital publications come from an increase in the number of digital centers, an increase in the affiliation of outside scholars with current digital centers, or some other institutions assuming the role that digital centers currently handle?

Whither Academic Publishing?

It seems to me that most DH-ers are suspicious of — if not completely hostile to — traditional academic publishing structures and requirements. So am I. Unlike some of you, I no longer have to worry about postponing the real projects I want to do in favor of the monograph that will get me through the tenure and promotion process. But even this bastion of what counts for credible, peer-reviewed, and in other ways vetted scholarship is showing significant signs of decay. Given my position and interests, I think I have a responsibility to hasten the fall of the academic monograph — or at least promote alternatives that count for as much as a book in the T&P system. But how to do this? How can I convince my doubting colleagues that peer-review can be something other than two or three senior manuscript reviewers? Or that a well-written, well-argued, often read and cited blog posting has real impact outside of the closed world of peer-reviewed journals, and that reflection on such a post by others in one’s field has significant scholarly impact? Or that collaborative work is a good thing?

Anyway, if you’ve read this far, you know the drill. I am proposing a session — a workshop really — in which we brainstorm the many possible ways of publishing and peer-reviewing academic work that accounts for the digital, the blogged, the tweeted, the whatever-many-forms-that-scholarship-might-take. This has many resonances with the sessions already proposed that seek a common ground between journalism and academic writing. I assume, too, that there are many multiple viable models for writing and publishing and peer-review. The session I am proposing would consider as many of these as possible, and discuss what works, what doesn’t, and maybe stuff we haven’t even tried.

Things I’d love to discuss

Using GIT
I “get” GIT–I see the utility–I see the logic–I see why it’s great. But I’d love some discussion on how to start using it, what are some preferred GIT clients, and what the best-GIT-practices are. If this conversation could be combined with a western-twanged series of puns on the word “git,” that would be ideal.

Digital Scholarly Editions
This is my main DH interest at the moment. I would love to talk about:

  • Issues of encoding
  • What software platforms people are using (Islandora, Omeka, by-hand?)
  • Excellent, and execrable, examples of digital scholarly editions
  • Issues of copyright (i.e. “Do ALL digital editions have to be out of copyright???”)
  • What kinds of scholarly apparatus do digital editions facilitate that were harder or impossible in paper editions?
  • Multi-media digital editions

Working without institutional infrastructure
AKA, when you’re more alt than ac :)
For the many of us who are still on the hunt for the permanent position, how do we think about the issues of our digital work differently? For example, in a workshop I was once in, someone said: “This is what you’ll need to tell your design team…” What about when we ARE our team? What are the dangers of developing digital tools, editions, creations of any kind on resources provided by a university where you are only a temporary employee? How do we access resources? How do our grant applications differ? How do we access the support systems we need to make our work…work?