Feeding the Elephant
Before we start, we need to acknowledge something: 2020 was a year. If you are reading this in December, you have our deepest gratitude and respect for sticking with us. Here’s to making it through! If you are reading this from the future, let’s just say, we hope things got better.
Last week John Vsetecka offered his perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on early-career scholars. In today's post, we learn what's been like for early-career librarians from Laura Rocco, outreach and engagement librarian at California State University, Stanislaus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to change the way we work and what we hoped to achieve in this very long year. In this post, history graduate student John Vsetecka talks about the short- and potential long-term impact of COVID-19 on early-career scholars. We'll follow up next week with a similar piece from an early-career librarian.
A guest post by Erin Benay, Associate Professor of Early Modern Art and Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies, Case Western Reserve University
A guest post by Eliot Borenstein, Professor of Russian, New York University
A post from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications. This is the first of a series on how scholarly societies, publishers, and attendees are coping with the challenges of the virtual conference.
A guest post by Hajni G. Selby, Director of Programming and Conferences, Organization of American Historians
As we wrap-up Peer Review Week 2020, we wanted to share some practical advice with early career scholars being asked to review for the first time. I spoke with three scholars, including a journal editor, about how to approach this potentially daunting task—and why it's important to do so.
Feeding the Elephant Podcast
Produced by Yelena Kalinsky
Music by Kakia Gkoudina
Episode 1 features
Robert Cassanello, Associate Professor of History, University of Central Florida
Saul Noam Zarritt, Associate Professor of Yiddish Literature, Harvard University
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities and Professor of English, Michigan State University
As Peer Review Week approaches, I wanted to share answers to some of the questions I get asked most often. The theme of #PeerReviewWk20 is trust. I hope these answers contribute to trust in peer review by fostering candid conversations about publishing in general and helping to demystify the peer review process specifically.
OK. The librarian response came from a Really Big University. Now I'd like to see responses from librarians and faculty from schools where the majority of students study: community colleges and regional, public, 4-year institutions (NCAA D2 or D3 schools, for those who think mainly in terms of college sports) -- where the relationships with state legislatures are often adversarial and where the curriculum is under threat from administrators in thrall to neo-liberalism and who whole-heartedly embrace the gospel of austerity.
Feeding the Elephant is pleased to introduce our [1:3] series. In this series, we pose 1 question to a librarian, a publisher, and a scholar—the 3 main stakeholders in the scholarly communications ecosystem—to get each perspective on a particular issue. Here, we posed the question:
Getting permission to reproduce copyrighted material in your own work can be intimidating and frustrating, and most scholars don’t get much, if any, training in how to do it. You won’t be surprised to learn there is no one simple trick, but the following tips aim to demystify the process and make it easier to manage.
Note: This was the third panel of the P2L conference held July 22. A recap of the first two panels can be found here.
Lisa Bayer, Director, University of Georgia Press, sent us this summary.
P2L4, a conference sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses), brought together a group of publishers and librarians via Zoom on July 22 to talk about scholarly publishing.
On June 11, 2020, Inside Higher Ed ran a short piece reporting that the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries just launched VCU Publishing, an initiative to publish scholarship by the university’s faculty and students in digital form.
Liz Murice Alexander is Mellon Editorial Fellow at Northwestern University Press. She was one of the participants of the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows conversation at the AUPresses 2020 virtual conference, which we previously covered here.
A belated follow up on our post about the AUPresses 2020 conference plenary on June 15. In her presentation, Cutcha Risling-Baldy offered publishers five rules for working with Indigenous authors and publishing on Indigenous topics. You can read them—and her other suggestions—at her blog. The post is titled “Give It Back: Publishing and Native Sovereignty at the Association of University Presses Conference OR In Which I Remind Everyone That Andrew Jackson Can Go F Himself” and contains the full video of her planary.
A Twitter thread with some additional thoughts on how publishers can build bridges with indie booksellers from panelist Andrew Berzanskis of the University of Washington Press:
University presses and indie bookstores need each other to accomplish our respective missions: boosting overlooked voices; elevating what's best and unique about a region; helping drive conversations that lead to social change.
Friday afternoon three booksellers—Kim Hooyboer of Seattle’s Third Place Books (Seward Park), Jeff Deutsch of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and David Goldberg of the MIT Press Bookstore—joined with Andrew Berzanskis, senior acquisitions editor at the University of Washington Press, to talk about what university press folks ought to know about the realities of retail book sales.
The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program, the result of a four-year, $1,205,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to diversify the university press acquisitions pipeline by offering highly competitive fourteen-month apprenticeships in the acquisitions departments of six university presses.
The Association of University Presses opened its annual meeting on Monday, June 15, with trenchant and inspiring plenary presentations from Cutcha Risling Baldy and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair under the title of “Give It Back: Publishing and Native Sovereignty.”
Acquiring editors play many roles in the publication process, and because the publishing process is entwined with the tenure and promotion process, editors are often asked to provide supporting documentation to their authors to share with tenure and promotion committees. This can be as simple as a paragraph confirming a book is under contract or in production, or as detailed as explaining a press’s acceptance rate and review process.
Also of note is the recent statement from the German Studies Association's Initiative for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, which references H-Black-Europe among several other groups doing anti-racist work:
Thank you for providing these resources. Haymarket Books is currently offering a discount on their books regarding policing and racism. One book can be downloaded for free as an ebook. You can find the list here: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/blogs/80-haymarket-books-against-policing...
In light of the ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Feeding the Elephant has compiled a list of resources (many freely accessible) from libraries, university presses, and scholars on the subjects of racism, racial justice, police brutality, and protest.
In light of the ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Feeding the Elephant has compiled a list of resources (many freely accessible) from libraries, university presses, and scholars on the subjects of racism, racial justice, police brutality, and protest. At this time of anger and mourning, we would like to highlight efforts by the scholarly communications and publishing communities to reflect on how our work can contribute to understanding the present moment and encourage transformational change.
In the fall of 2019, Disney launched its new streaming service, Disney+. Disney opened its famed Vault to lovers of classic Disney, fans of newer Disney-affiliated producers, and stans for Baby Yoda. All at once, several decades’ worth of content became available—for a price. And, all at once, Disney earned massive revenue for content that it already owned.
In addition to our open access resources, we have compiled a list of publisher offerings that can help
One of the characteristics of workplaces where sexual harassment and gender discrimination are common is a predominantly male staff, where the few women present may be seen as challenging gender norms just by being there.
Feeding the Elephant readers may be interested in a recent guest post from the Scholarly Kitchen called "Managing Your Career in Publishing," focusing on identifying and developing skills and professional networking through organizations like the Association of University Presses, the Association of American
The Open Access Resource List has been updated with additional resources. Please check it out and if you have anything else add, reply to this post to let us know!
--Feeding the Elephant team
The theme of the 2019 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute was equity in scholarly communications. In addition to the summary on the website, check out #TriangleSCI on Twitter.
By Tony Sanfilippo
University presses were established to publish scholarly books—that’s our chief mission. But it’s not all we do. In this guest post, Ohio State University Press director Tony Sanfilippo talks about when and why university presses publish trade books—those intended for a general, non-specialist readership. --Catherine Cocks
Please see below for a list of publisher podcasts. Feel free to reply in the comments with any additional publisher podcast information.
Fifteeneightyfour, Cambridge University Press Podcasts:
1869, The Cornell University Press Podcasts:
Below is a list of resources regarding open access. This list is meant to supplement the posts and discussions taking place on Feeding the Elephant. Readers, please help us grow this list by joining the Feeding the Elephant discussions or Tweeting us using the hashtag #FeedingTheElephant.
Continuing our coverage of University Press Week, readers may be interested in a recent conversation between Kathryn Conrad, president of the Association of University Presses and founder and editor of the New Books Network, Marshall Poe, about (what else?) university presses.
Good question! The answer is complicated and if we have any acquisitions librarians reading, I hope they will weigh in. E-books and e-book aggregating databases are so new that initially presses and aggregators had to guess what appropriate pricing would be. As we accumulated experience and e-book collections became increasingly important in library collections plans, it became clear that presses were losing print sales while e-book sales were not making up the difference.
The assertion that "presses earn much less per title [from e-book databases] than for print volumes" is interesting—and worth exploring. If library purchases continue to shift towards these databases, you would expect the per-title revenue to balance out a bit. (Note that we're talking about per-title, not per-sale, revenue.) . But per-title revenue from one format or another has to do not only with the number of customers buying in that format but also the retail price per unit for that format. Do presses not have any leverage to charge more for e-books available through databases?
Recently, four pieces of news about publishing came to my attention. The conjuncture struck me as illuminating some of the key problems besetting the current scholarly publishing ecosystem.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the importance of diversity and equity in peer review, but concerns about who gets to create, curate, distribute, and preserve knowledge extend far beyond the moment of peer review.
Thank you very much for your reply, David! I've added the Political Science Rumors website to the Peer Review Resources page as a reference tool and a resource that we can draw further conversation from.
Thanks, David! I like your idea of enlisting H-Net (and maybe other professional organizations) to collect or host data on peer review processes. I encourage anyone interested in this issue to check out the report of the Peer Review Transparency project. The Committee on Publication Ethics (https://publicationethics.org/) also offers guidance for journal editors on making their journal's peer review policies and practices more transparent.
Thanks to both Jerome and David for thoughtful replies, and my apologies for being slow to respond. I'm afraid I was traveling last week. Indeed, peer review is not meant to replace other kinds of scholarly and professional evaluation. The AUPresses's handbook of best practices in peer review states: "The review process for proposals and manuscripts is intended to be entirely distinct from any professional review authors may be undergoing. For this reason AEs are strongly discouraged from sharing materials with authors’ hiring, tenure, and promotion committees.
Thank you for this excellent post. Who hasn't been frustrated at times by the opaque nature of most peer review processes! I've often wondered whether there wasn't some space for H-Net networks to play a role in improving the transparency of the review process within their respective fields, perhaps by soliciting data on time to publication, time to rejection, etc., from journal editors and storing this info on a dedicated webpage.
Thank you for another thoughtful and immensely helpful post reviewing a key issue with peer review. I really enjoyed reading it. Let me suggest that their are some really complicated, underlying issues involving the intellectual authority of an editor over a field of study embedded in some of these proposed policies. For example, the "nothing about us wihtout us" principle is easy to apply in some cases but gets much more difficult in others. To apply the principle, an editor or group of editors first have to decide which groups it applies to and which it doesn't.
This is all very well and good, but as someone who has been a department chair, served on many tenure and promotions committees both at my own and other institutions, evaluated grant and fellowship applications, reviewed manuscripts journal and book publishers, etc.. I hope we all remember that there is no substitute for reading submissions ourselves rather than relying on the fact that something has been peer reviewed in a highly rated journal. Lots of excellent pieces never make it through and often get rejected for other-than-quality reasons.
A Conversation with Amy Brand (Director of MIT Press) and Jessica Polka (Executive Director of ASAPBio) by Catherine Cocks (Editor-in-Chief at Michigan State University Press)
Welcome to the inaugural posts of Feeding the Elephant, a forum for conversations about scholarly communications in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. We begin by looking at one of the elements that makes academic publishing distinctive: peer review. Scholars who want to have their research taken seriously by their discipline have to publish it in a peer-reviewed form, whether that’s a journal article or a monograph or something else.
Feeding the Elephant readers will be interested in this public conversation about "quality" in peer review, taking place this Thursday, September 19, at 4 p.m., EDT. Announcement and details below.
Quality in Peer Review: An AUPresses Conversation
This is the first post of a new series on the H-Net Book Channel dedicated to scholarly communications called Feeding the Elephant. For the rest of September, we'll be sharing interviews, blog posts, and links to further resources related to the topic of peer review. Subscribers are invited to take part in the conversation by posting replies, questions, links to projects, or ideas for future posts. --Eds.
Below is a list of resources for peer review meant to supplement the posts and discussions taking place on Feeding the Elephant. Readers, please help us grow this list by joining the Feeding the Elephant discussions or Tweeting us using the hashtag #FeedingTheElephant.
Introductions to Peer Review