Decoding Digital Humanities Bloomington

An informal monthly gathering to discuss issues related to the digital humanities. Come meet people studying or working in DH!

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October 2010 Meeting Recap (Grant’s POV)

Another successful and engaging conversation! Perhaps it was the pitcher of Smithwicks.

In attendance were the Suzanne Lodato and Clara Henderson of the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities, Dot Porter of the Digital Library Program, Bob Noel, the head librarian for the Swain Hall library (i.e., the one that specializes in physics, astronomy, mathematics, statistics, computer science, and informatics), as well as students from English and Library Science.

If I may speak for everyone, I would venture that we were all intrigued by Peter Suber’s "Promoting Open Access In the Humanities", which for many of us, was our first indication of the varied nature of open access between disciplines and the fact that such access grew out of disciplinary necessities.

Bob indicated that the preprint strategy, popular for many years in the sciences, works because it is “good enough.” As a programmer, I see in my day job many instances in which “good enough” is the best that can be expected; anything better than good enough leads to over-designed solutions. Perhaps what we need to approach in the humanities is an open access solution that is good enough, meaning it is not ideal but meets the needs with regard to openness, quality, and long-term hopes for preservation (i.e., open formats, etc.).

One question I asked of this diverse group was whether they, being at various points in their academic careers, would publish in a peer-reviewed open access journal. I myself did not answer the question. I suppose I owe it to everyone to do so now. What worries me about publishing in open access journals is not quality. I have faith in the peer review process; it does not need to be coupled to the academic printing (read: corporatized) structure. And many open access journals seem like the perfect fit for the kind of work I’m doing. What worries me is essentially brand recognition and how such journals will be seen in the tenure review process. Established (read: not open access, usually) journals have a cachet that the (inevitably younger) open access journals don’t yet have.

With that in mind, here’s my personal plan of action. I can’t wait for these things to be taken seriously. They’re already doing serious work. I will submit to where my article makes sense. At the same time, I will advocate more for open access journals to be taken more seriously in the tenure process.