Essay on Scholarly Publishing Generates Debate

AHA Staff, February 2002

Acccording to an essay recently published by the Knight Higher Education Collaborative, universities and colleges should establish policies declaring peer-reviewed work in electronic form suitable for consideration in promotion and tenure decisions. The publication, based on the Roundtable on Scholarly Communication in the Humanities and Social Sciences jointly convened in March 2001 by the Association of Research Libraries, the National Humanities Alliance, and the Knight Collaborative with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, also advocates that active and continuing partnerships are needed to help ensure viability as markets and technology recast the dynamics of scholarly publishing.

According to the essay, "developing venues of electronic publication in conjunction with existing modes of print publication offers a means of expanding the size of the audience that the humanities and social sciences might address." But as the essay recognizes, scholars may be reluctant to adopt electronic publishing if it jeopardizes their chances for promotion and tenure. Scholars need assurances that scholarly work addressed to a broader audience and peer-reviewed scholarship published in electronic form will be considered legitimate forms of scholarly activity. University policies can help accelerate the cultural shifts needed to make this happen states the report.

"This round table focusing on the humanities and social sciences grew out of a series of conversations that have taken place in conferences, roundtables, and National Humanities Alliance committee discussions over the past several years," notes Duane Webster, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries. "We hope the essay will encourage active discussion in the broader community and the development of innovative partnerships in electronic publishing."

Individual copies of the December 2001 issue of Policy Perspectives can be obtained from the Institute for Research on Higher Education, University of Pennsylvania, 4200 Pine Street, 5A, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4090. (215) 898-4585. The issue is available on the Web at www.irhe.upenn.edu/pubs.