Research Division 2000
Succeeding as vice president of the Research Division after the energetic and productive tenure of Stanley Katz was a daunting prospect, but with the completion of my first year in office I am happy to report that much has been accomplished. One of the most striking aspects of the job is the perspective it offers on the enormous variety of matters that fall within the Association's purview, from dealing with individual proposals and complaints to attempting to move governmental agencies in directions deemed critical for the benefit of historians and the discipline. No one could do the job without the unfailing and unfailingly excellent work of the AHA's staff. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert Townsend and Kate Masur for their efforts in initiating me into the multiple issues to be addressed and tasks to be completed.
For the Research Division, the most significant development with the greatest potential impact on the profession has been the inauguration of an online version of the American Historical Review as part of the History Cooperative, which represents a consortium of history journals that have banded together to implement and guide the production of online scholarly publishing. The Cooperative would not have been possible without our partners in the project, particularly Willis Regier and the staff at the University of Illinois Press, Michael Jensen and his colleagues at the National Academy Press, and the staff of the Journal of American History and the Organization of American Historians.
The Association has been particularly fortunate to have AHR editor Michael Grossberg at the helm as we launch this enterprise. His report will review the many steps involved in the creation of the Cooperative. On behalf of the Research Division, I would like to join those who have visited the History Cooperative in praising Grossberg's effort and the diligent work of his staff. The electronic version of the Review has maintained the same high quality online as it has in the print version. Even though he is quick to point out that he was a late and reluctant convert to the notion of online publication, Grossberg's efforts to plumb the opportunities of the Internet promise to keep the AHR at the forefront of history journals. Because the AHA is now an Internet publisher and is endeavoring through its Gutenberg-e prize to promote electronic publication, new guidelines for the review of electronic publications that take note of the special characteristics inherent in the medium are being drawn up by Michael Grossberg. When completed, these guidelines will be published in the AHR.
Issues relating to online publication generally have been a persistent feature of the division's discussions this past year. We have considered requests from publishers, authors, teachers, and researchers alike to side with them in protecting their rights—whether to publish materials online, to proper compensation for re-publication of their materials, or to free and open access to online materials. To date, the division has been reluctant to take sides in these disputes, since we believe that questions of copyright in the electronic world require technical and legal knowledge of a field whose parameters are constantly changing. Furthermore, the AHA represents a broad range of interests that encompasses both publishers and writers, researchers and teachers. In thinking through our positions, the division is fortunate to have Mark Kornbluh as a member. With extensive experience on the Internet as the director of MATRIX, host to H-Net, Mark understands the technical and professional questions far better than most of us, and is an invaluable resource for the division. He also serves as a representative to the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH). The NINCH Building Blocks project appears to offer the possibility of coordinating interesting and fruitful conversations among those interested in using the new electronic publishing technologies to disseminate history. Given that the questions facing the Association are enormously complex, we have recommended that a task force of experts in the field be appointed to advise us as we negotiate our way through the new technology, particularly with respect to questions of copyright and intellectual property.
Another area of activity this year was the planning of future annual meeting programs. As part of its oversight of the Program Committee, the division substantially revised the Program Committee Guidelines to separate the bureaucratic details about composition of the committee from the document published as part of the call for papers, which offers direction on the submission of panels and papers. We hope members preparing submissions for the 2002 program have found the revised guidelines substantially more relevant to their immediate concerns. We are grateful for the advice and suggestions of Philippa Levine (Univ. of Southern California) and Paul Ropp (Clark Univ.) who chair the 2002 Program Committee. The division was also pleased to recommend to Council the appointments of Anand Yang (Univ. of Utah) and Margaret Washington (Cornell Univ.) as co-chairs of the 2003 Program Committee.
The Research Division is also responsible for oversight of the Association's prizes. This year the Council approved a recommendation from the Research Division to establish the John E. Fagg Prize for an outstanding work in Latin American history, an area that was notably underserved in the prize offerings of the Association. The prize will be awarded annually for a period of 10 years beginning in 2002.
The division also continues to work with other scholarly associations—under the umbrella of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC)—to support the interests of historians. The members of the division were saddened at the retirement of Page Putnam Miller, who, as director of the NCC, was a tireless and effective advocate for historians for over 20 years. The division has been pleased and grateful for the good counsel and effective work of her successor, Bruce Craig. Bruce has already provided guidance on a number of vital issues, especially an attempt by the National Endowment for the Humanities to severely limit funding for long-term editing projects.
An additional question that has a direct impact on the ability of historians to complete research are the new guidelines proposed for Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), whose mandate is to oversee all research involving human subjects. IRBs were established primarily to supervise medical and biological research, but have responsibility for work done in the social sciences and oral history as well. The division has received numerous complaints about the impediments to research that IRBs pose to scholars in the social sciences, who requested intervention in the legislative process by associations representing nonmedical/scientific fields. In considering this question, the division has benefited enormously from the ongoing efforts of one of its members, Linda Shopes, who worked actively with Bruce Craig and the American Association of University Professors to limit the impact of IRBs on historical research. Linda's efforts have helped to place the concerns of the historians into the mainstream conversation on the issue, even receiving serious treatment in periodicals like Lingua Franca and on Capitol Hill. Similarly, at Linda's urging, the division reviewed and recommended to Council that it approve the proposed "Standards for Museum Exhibits Dealing with Historical Subjects" drawn up by the Society for History in the Federal Government.
Ongoing matters before the Research Division include a review of the need for a revised edition of the AHA's Guide to Historical Literature, as well as planning for the migration of the Gutenberg-e prize to administration by the Research Division.
Finally, it is with regret that I note that this year brings to a close Gale Stokes's term as a member of the division. His acute analysis and wide range of interests have made invaluable contributions to our business. We are pleased to welcome Louis A. Perez to the division for the coming three years.
Gabrielle M. Spiegel (Johns Hopkins Univ.) is vice president of the AHA's Research Division.