2022: The Elephant in Review

Emily Joan Elliott's picture

Post from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications Editorial Team.

As another year draws to a close, the Feeding the Elephant editorial team is reflecting on all that we learned this year from university press business models to tips for working with your editor to reviews of new books on scholarly communications. 

Looking ahead to the new year, we’d love to hear from more of you! What do you have to say or want to hear about scholarly publishing? We are planning to feature more “Working with Your Editor” posts and more about how scholarly publishers operate. We’ll have book reviews and thoughts on the role of podcasts in scholarly communications and lots more. And Emily and Dawn will figure out the Elephant’s social media future and gently poke Catherine into learning to operate the new whatever-it-is. Don’t miss it!

And if you find the Elephant’s posts useful, please consider donating to support H-Net, which makes our work possible. A small but mighty staff at H-Net enables scores of volunteer editors, like us, to circulate the information and embody the collegiality that are the lifeblood of scholarly community. Here is a bit more about the history of H-Net and how it functions.


Top story of 2022: A Critical Subjective Analysis of Objectivity by Nahir Otaño Gracia

Nahir Otaño Gracia wrote our most viewed post of 2022 in response to Jenny Tan’s review of William Germano’s On Revision. More than 55,000 people viewed the conversation that Otaño Garcia’s post generated about how calls for objectivity can be used to criticize and undermine both the writing and arguments of non-white scholars.

We recommend reading both Tan’s review and Otaño Garcia’s reflection. If you enjoy those, you should check out the other reviews published on Feeding the Elephant this year, including Hanni Jalil’s review of The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors by Laura Portwood-Stacer and Aurora Bell’s review of Handbook for Academic Authors: How to Navigate the Publishing Process, sixth edition by Beth Luey.


Story to Watch in 2023: The Effects of Russia’s War in Ukraine on Scholars

On Feb. 24, 2022, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin began his unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which endangered scholars and scholarship along with the rest of civil society. In the ensuing weeks, the Feeding the Elephant editorial team wrote a post to express their solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to share information about available resources for scholars affected by the war.

Russia has attacked cities and civilians in Ukraine regularly since the war began. In 2023, Feeding the Elephant will revisit and revise its list of resources and solicit pieces that address how the war has affected research, scholarship, and scholarly communications.

Noteworthy Series in 2022: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Scholarly Book Publishing in Literary and Cultural Studies

Rebecca “Good Trouble” Colesworthy (SUNY Press) continues to insist that her scholarly home, the Modern Language Association, grapples with the realities of scholarly publishing. Courtney Berger (Duke University Press) was one of several people on Rebecca’s MLA panel who wrote up her talk on experiments in publishing to post on the Elephant, which became one of our most read pieces in 2022.

Don’t miss the other great contributions to the series, including Jennifer Crewe on change in scholarly publishing, Parneshia Jones on generational change and dialog, Mahinder Kingra on open access, Zack Gresham on fit between author and editor, and Rebecca Colesworthy on labor.


Series to Continue in 2023: University Press Business Models

Our ongoing series on university press business models began with this overview of the most common arrangement. If scholarly communication is to survive and be aligned with scholarly values and needs, all of us need to understand how it works and how it might work differently. The variety of models profile so far begins to sketch the possibilities. More to come in 2023!

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about various models, you can read about multi-state consortiums, single state consortiums, independent, non-profit corporations, and open access publishing at a small liberal arts college. Our most recent post on the Elephant is not part of the series, but it provides some insightful commentary on how presses and institutions can collaborate to produce multimodal monographs.


Best Tips and Tidbits in 2022: A Publicist’s Guide to Completing Your Book’s Marketing Questionnaire

Publishing should not be mysterious to authors! In this post, Rosemary Sekora (University of Nebraska Press) explains how to tackle that daunting marketing questionnaire and help your press do its best to publicize your book.

Our Working with Your Editor series also delivered other useful information, including manuscript transmittal and launch, relationships with copyeditors, and crafting letters of response to peer reviewers. Speaking of peer review, you might also want to revisit this guest post on anti-racist reviewing.

For those interested in pursuing careers in publishing, Allegra Martschenko and Rachael Levay, founders of Paths in Publishing, provided numerous tips and tricks for completing job applications in scholarly publishing and Bethany Wasik wrote about deconstructing a job ad.


New Directions in 2022 and 2023: Scholarly Communications Beyond the Academy

Scholarly research and communications have been hot button political issues, and Feeding the Elephant commissioned posts on how a local library has dealt with the increased calls for banning books, thoughts on journalists and historians can better work together to bring history to the public, and selling academic books and engaging the community at a local, independent bookstore. Stay tuned for similar posts in 2023!

Have something to say on this topic? Reply to this post! Or email the Elephant about writing for us. We welcome submissions from stakeholders on all sides of scholarly publishing. Find us on Twitter @HNetBookChannel and use the hashtag #FeedingTheElephant. You can also find us on Mastodon at @FeedingTheElephant@h-net.social.