Many in the information community will recognize the Journal of Electronic Publishing name and the high quality of its contents. Launched back in the mid-90’s, there are now new editors at the helm of the journal – Michael Roy of Middlebury College and David W. Lewis of IUPUI. As they note in their opening editorial (Volume 25, Issue 1, doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.2333), “In 1995, when the journal formed, there was much to discuss about what is meant by electronic publishing, how it can both benefit from the centuries of experience and insight gained from print publishing and also break from this tradition to do things faster, better, and cheaper.” In 2022, what are the new concerns that occupy the new breed of content providers?
Some of the concerns surface quickly in an article by Associate University Librarian, Publishing, University of Michigan Library and Director of University of Michigan Press Charles Watkinson entitled What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us about humanities book publishing so far? A view from North America.
One is metricization of research. Watkinson notes the ubiquity of research information management (RIM) systems from various corporate entities and the value reflected on RIM “dashboards” when viewed by those in institutional administrative positions.
Michigan Research Experts is a faculty profile system powered by Symplectic, one of the leading RIM providers. Symplectic is owned by the same parent company as Springer Nature and competes with Elsevier Pure, Clarivate Converis, and Ex Libris Esploro. These large commercial organizations leverage the well-structured publication information found in STM fields but stumble in the humanities. If a humanities book doesn’t have a DOI, an ORCID, or a ROR identifier in its metadata, it will likely not be connected to an author profile. Digital projects in the humanities have even less chance of showing up in an administrative analytics dashboard.
Another area of on-going concern has to do with the unaffiliated scholar or those life-long learners following a particular subject. A global pandemic has exposed a market sector that has been poorly served at best.
How can we best meet the unmet needs we observed outside the confines of institutional paywalls? Multiple deep niches of readers are as passionate about sub-fields in the humanities as those who are paid to study them..,Seen at a global scale, an unserved market of deep divers emerges who may be unable to spend much money but are generous with their time and are just as capable of understanding a specialist argument as any graduate student. They also demonstrate that “public engagement in the humanities” does not require “dumbing down.”
Watkinson notes some other areas of interest, including discoverability of open access books and the appropriate allocation of printing costs.
Additional topics under discussion in the 2022 launch issue appear below:
- Hanson, K. L., (2022) “Preserving Innovation: Ensuring the Future of Today’s Scholarship”, JEP 25(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.1852
- Warren, J. W., (2022) “Always the eBook of the Future”, JEP 25(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.1954
- Pooley, J., (2022) “Surveillance Publishing”, JEP 25(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/jep.1874
Full issue table of contents available at: https://journals.publishing.umich.edu/jep/