I am delighted to introduce Publication as the theme of the IPRH blog for the academic year 2013/14.

Publication is central to our practice in the academic community: it is the chief metric by which we are assessed; it is the “product” that we share with the world. But recent debates have brought to light some of the complexities that underpin scholarly publication, stimulating a reconsideration of such activity and its place in the academy.


For instance, earlier this summer, the American Historical Association released a statement encouraging that an embargo be allowed to be placed on the digital “publication” of completed doctoral dissertations for up to six years. Meanwhile, the evaluation of digital scholarship continues to be a topic of anxious discussion, especially by those on the tenure-track.

Elsewhere, a number of editorial boards have resigned over the exorbitant subscription fees and overly restrictive author agreements levied by the publishers of their journals. Pre-tenure scholars, however, may not enjoy the luxury of boycotting publishers with exploitative practices that nevertheless produce important and well-respected journals. Open access offers no simple solution, either, for authors can be charged as much as $3,000 for the journal to host a single article outside the paywall.

A humanities argument in a box.

An argument about publication / J. Pollack & B. Mak.

The theme of Publication will be understood expansively to comprise not only the familiar activities of research and writing in the humanities, but also innovative methods for the exchange of knowledge. Publication is therefore  especially appropriate as the IPRH launches its initiative in digital scholarly communication this year.

With your help, we can explore areas such as peer review, privacy, data, the public record, censorship, intellectual property, the history of periodicals, the future of newspapers, pamphleteering, audible expletives, annotation, installation, genre, e-resources, preservation, prognostication, performance, the exposure of flesh, the editorial hand, the corpus of an author, publication anxiety, and Twitter-as-publication (or as aid-to-publication). Contributions that engage with broader issues related to the provision of information and its role in the making of knowledge are also welcome.


Please, share your ideas, images, and provocations on the theme of Publication!

Posts on the yearly theme will be identified by a graphic that is currently under development by Kelly Delahanty, the new IPRH coordinator for communications. Look for it soon! Kelly will also be using this space to share announcements of interest.

Bonnie Mak is jointly appointed in the Graduate School for Library and Information Science and the Program in Medieval Studies. She is the guest editor of the IPRH blog for AY 2013/14.

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