The articles, podcast, and video that we had for this week were very interesting and nicely summarized many of the ongoing conversations in higher education regarding digital scholarship. Leila Walker’s article in particular, reminded me of many of the conversations that I have heard regarding the rapidly growing field of digital humanities. In fact, panels on the digital humanities abound at the annual MLA Conference (Modern Language Association), or at least they have since I first started attending in 2016. This January, I attended several panels on the topic, and as typically occurs following these panels, the audience agrees that the work is very interesting but wonders how it will be evaluated for tenure and promotion. It goes without saying that such concerns are valid, especially for junior faculty.
Another idea that Leila Walker discussed that I found interesting was that of public peer-review. While I would have to investigate the specific examples that she gave to know more about them, the idea reminded me of an instance where a well-established scholar that I know invited various people to comment on and review a draft of an article that he was working on. He used Academia.edu to do this and although I decided not to comment on his draft (our main areas are different), I remember thinking that it was refreshing to see someone held in high regard show his scholarship as a work-in-progress. This is something that I would be interested in trying in the future.
“Just imagine if we could all see our academic heroes struggle through peer review — our own reader reports might be less intimidating.” — Leila Walker, “Beyond Academic Twitter: Social Media and the Evolution of Scholarly Publication.”
As I was reading the information for this week, I had a utopian moment, a brief chimera, in which I imagined what it might be like if the internet was flooded with peer-reviewed information and open access journals. My quixotic vision did not last long, and the following segment from Bonnie Stewart’s piece really hit home: “But we cling to the academic publishing system because it’s a prestige economy. […] apparently they will have to pry it from our cold, dead, mostly-precariously-employed hands because there seems to be far more attachment to the impact factor of prestigious journals than to the possibility of changing things.” I hope that we begin to see more acceptance of online and open access scholarship, and I would like to read Stewart’s publication that she references in the blog post on the topic. I also think that the majority of scholars today would agree with Stewart that there needs to be a change in order reach a wider audience. The tides seem to change slowly in academia, but I do believe they are changing to widen the at times narrow concept of what “counts” as scholarship.