Welcome to the forum on Academic Publishing in the Digital Age! Building from an illuminating dialogue about Fair Use hosted by Veronica Paredes, our conversation will focus on the burgeoning field of electronic academic publication and the ways it is impacting established models of scholarship. We hope that this discussion will allow participants to share their own experiences with digital publishing as writers and readers and to learn more about the possibilities and pitfalls of putting academic work online. As such, we encourage contributions from those who have published electronically as well as those who have not, those who work with electronic journals and those who work with print journals or university presses; our goal is to facilitate a venue in which we may all ask and answer questions about the present and future of digital scholarship.
Your hosts are HASTAC Scholars Julie Levin Russo and Chris Hanson, who have worked respectively on the electronic journals Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) and Vectors. We will be joined by members of the editorial and creative staff of these publications, including TWC co-editors Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson, Vectors co-editors Tara McPherson and Steve Anderson, and Erik Loyer, a creative director for Vectors. We put forward these ventures as case studies for the larger issues at hand.
Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) is an online journal that comprises the scholarly arm of the new fan advocacy nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. It supports the OTW's mission to promote the legitimacy and sustainability of non-commercial fan creativity by providing a forum for innovative criticism in fan studies, broadly conceived. TWC is a Gold Open Access journal according to the standards established by the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing of June 2003, offering free, immediate, permanent, full-text, online postprint archiving with access for any web user, complete with unrestricted license to link, download, store, copy, distribute, display, use, and transform the works published therein. Open digital publishing is integral to TWC's objectives in a practical sense: the journal aims to encourage dialogue between academic and fan communities, and thus cannot assume that its target audience has access to journal subscriptions through a university. Sharing works freely is also fundamental to the philosophy of TWC and its parent organization, which value the creative and intellectual potential of circulation and transformation in opposition to the constricted framework of proprietary ownership on which the corporate-copyright complex rests. TWC also provides a haven for scholarship in non-traditional and multimedia formats, inviting embedded citation of its objects (especially fan artifacts that may have dubious legal status) while the technology and copyright policies of print publication typically make this impossible. TWC conducts all of its editorial activity through its website, which is built on the open source software package Open Journal Systems, an initiative of the federally funded Public Knowledge Project (Canada). You can review the CFP for TWC's upcoming special issue on "games as transformative works" at http://www.hastac.org/node/1717 (submission deadline: November 15).
Launched in 2005, Vectors explores the intersection of technology and culture by bringing together visionary scholars with cutting-edge designers and technologists to propose a thorough rethinking of the dynamic relationship of form to content in academic research. Rather than merely supplementing conventional modes of scholarship such as papers and articles with multimedia, Vectors publishes works which expand traditional text-based paradigms and may only be expressed in an immersive and experiential fashion, mobilizing computational and interactive structures to examine emerging scholarly vernaculars across a variety of media platforms. Each issue of Vectors utilizes a theme that highlights the cultural, social and political stakes of our increasingly technologically-mediated existence by exploring key debates across varied disciplines. The journal has been supported by the University of Southern California's Institute for Multimedia Literacy, HASTAC and Digital Promise.
To begin the conversation with our guests and the HASTAC community, we propose the following questions for consideration. In addition to your responses, we invite forum participants to post your own questions, as well as any other links that might complement the discussion. Please feel free to post your comments and questions below via text or as part of the Seesmic thread.
- How are traditional methods of academic publishing being changed by digital and online avenues? What advantages or disadvantages do these new forms of publication have over conventional means?
- What are some of the challenges involved in translating academic research into interactive digital platforms? What new possibilities for intellectual and creative work are made possible by such platforms?
- Should published scholarship be freely available, or is restricting access a necessary evil?
- How might we increase the academic credibility of emergent forms of scholarship and publication?
- How do you envision digital platforms transforming academic research in the coming years?
We look forward to this discussion and thank Erik, Kristina, Steve, Tara, and all the contributors for their time and insight. And thanks to Erin for her support and assistance!
Julie & Chris