SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION ISSUES
NEWSLETTER FOR THE UIUC COMMUNITY
July 5, 2002
Kaufman, University Librarian
Two important reports are about to be released to their respective communities.
Because discussions of each are likely to engender much controversy, I have
devoted this issue to lengthier-than-usual discussions of both. Regular form of
reporting will resume with the next issue, scheduled for publication in early
REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF SCHOLARLY PUBLISHING
president of the Modern Language Association, Stephen Greenblatt, recently sent
a letter to all MLA members encouraging them to discuss within their departments
issues in scholarly communication that are affecting the ability of junior
faculty in the humanities to meet rising expectations for tenure. Greenblatt
identifies a number of issues: inadequate support for both library and
university press budgets, library decrease in purchases of monographs as a
result of skyrocketing STM journal prices, severe financial losses by presses as
a result of lost library sales and a general decline in the book market, and the
resultant cutback by university presses in the publication of works in some
areas of language and literature. He concludes that the careers of young
scholars are in jeopardy and he asks departments to consider whether books and
more of them are the only way to judge scholarly achievement. The letter is
based on a report by the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Scholarly
Publishing and asks MLA members for suggestions on actions MLA and modern
language and literature departments might take to help ease the situation. From
junior faculty members who will be reviewed for tenure in this academic year are
anxiously waiting to hear from various university presses. These faculty
members find themselves in a maddening double bind. They face a challenge —
under inflexible time constraints and with very high stakes — that many of them
may be unable to meeting successfully, no matter how strong or serious their
scholarly achievement, because academic presses simply cannot afford to publish
their books. The situation is difficult for those in English and even more
difficult for those in foreign languages.
are concerned because people who have spent years of professional training — our
students, our colleagues — are at risk. Their careers are in jeopardy, and
higher education stands to lose, or at least severely to damage, a generation of
young scholars. And, I repeat, the central issue is systemic….
report makes a number of recommendations, some of which I’ve excerpted below:
Alter expectations with regard to all levels of publishing.
Work vigorously against the tendency toward increasing expectations with
regard to quantity of publications in tenure and promotion decisions.
Develop a broader understanding of what is important for their field and the
contribution they make to the educational mission of their institution.
Articulate their position with regard to specific categories of scholarly
publications, including editions and translations in addition to more
traditional specialized monographs.
Recognize that this is a period of transition with regard to electronic
publication and web archives. Work with appropriate committees and
administrators to develop guidelines about how these will be evaluated.
Recognize that subventions are an increasingly common factor in scholarly
publishing and support their faculty accordingly.
Have university administrations make their new guidelines clear to outside
Continue to build collections with the clear understanding that print
publications, especially books, are still paramount for the humanities.
Recognize that the mission of universities is endangered if funding goes
primarily to the sciences, leaving little for the humanities.
Budget sufficient money for electronic humanities databases.
University presses should resist pressures to commercialize their operations
and ensure that they maintain their mission to publish scholarly work.
Communicate to their authors realistic time lines with respect to the review,
editing, and production processes.
aware of the radical changes in scholarly publishing and the particular
pressures that obtain in the languages and literatures. Meet with departments
to review existing criteria for scholarly publishing and decide if they are
appropriate to the institution.
mindful that library acquisitions are essential for the health of the
Recognize that university presses are essential for the scholarly mission of
the university and that this mission is jeopardized to the extent that they
are expected to function as commercial ventures.
Establish subvention funds to help with publication costs, with special
emphasis on subsidies for faculty members attempting to place their first
Evaluate thoughtfully scholarship that appears in overseas presses, as well as
scholarship in languages other than English. They should be mindful of the
variety of publication practices and procedures for evaluation of submissions
Although the report has not yet been distributed widely, you can obtain a paper
copy by contacting my office at 3-0790 or e-mailing
REVOLUTIONIZING SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING THROUGH CYBERINFRASTRUCTURE
National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure
released the first draft of its report on April 19, 2002. The panel envisions a
new age in scientific and engineering research, driven by progress in computing
and communications technology. It expects that the amounts of calculation and
the extent of information that can be stored and used will explode at a rate
that should shake up assumptions throughout the research community. In a few
years, it predicts, the contents of the historic scientific literature will fit
on a rack of disks, and a computer that fits in a small office will provide more
computing than all the supercomputing centers together today. In the future,
the panel expects researchers to:
Combine raw data and new models from many sources, and to utilize the most
up-to-date tools to analyze, visualize, and simulate complex interrelations.
Collect and make generally available far more information, leading to a
qualitative change in the way research is done and the type of science that
work across traditional boundaries: for environmental scientists to take
advantage of climate models, for physicists to make direct use of astronomical
observations, for social scientists to analyze interactive behavior of
scientists as well as others.
simulate more complex and exciting systems.
access the entire published record of science online and for future
publications to be much richer (hypertext, video, photographic images).
visualize the results of complex data sets in new and exciting ways, and to
create techniques for understanding and acting on the observations.
work routinely with colleagues at distant institutions, even ones that are not
traditionally considered Research universities, and with junior scientists and
students as genuine peers, despite differences in age, experience, race or
panel thinks that these will not be realized unless NSF makes a major move at
this time. If it doesn’t,
Researchers in different fields and at different sites will adopt different
formats and representations of key information, which will make it forever
difficult or impossible to combine or reconcile.
there is no decision to curate and store indefinitely raw and intermediate
research results as well as the polished and reduced publications,
irreplaceable data will be lost.
Effective use of cyberinfrastructure can break down artificial field
boundaries, while differing tools and structures can isolate scientific
communities for years.
Groups are already building their own application and middleware software
without awareness of comparable needs elsewhere, both within the NSF and
across all of science. Time and talent will be wasted that could have led to
much better computing and much better science.
Very rapid changes are coming in computing and application architectures; lack
of consideration of work in other sciences and in the commercial world could
render projects obsolete before they deliver.
panel will recommend a new large initiative, the most fundamental goal of which
will be to empower radical new ways of conducting science and engineering
through the applications of information technology. Read the draft of which is
sure to be an important and influential report at