The 2011 issue of Profession, journal published by the Modern Language Association, is a must read.
Everything in this issue interests me, but the main reason to post about it here is the section titled "Evaluating Digital Scholarship", introduced by Susan Schreibman, Laura Mandell, and Stephen Olsen, and containing five papers:
"On the Evaluation of Digital Media as Scholarship", by Geoffrey Rockwell
"Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship", by Steve Anderson and Tara McPherson
"On Creating a Usable Future", by Jerome McGann
"Peer Review, Judgment, and Reading", by Kathleen Fitzpatrick
It must be celebrated that, only logically, these papers are open access. I feel it is slightly strange they chose the label "Free" and not "Open Access". (See screen grab below). Yes, the latter would mean non-subscribers can access the papers witthout having to go through a paywall, but the word choice connotes a sort of exceptional condition (a "special offer"), which, after all, it is, since disappointingly the rest of the articles in the issue are accessible only to subscribers.
I also found slightly strange that the links still say only "Abstract" (and, in the case of the introduction, "Citation") when they do take us to a page that allows us to download the full paper. I understand that the journal's website architecture has predefined pages for "Abstracts" and not full papers, since Profession is normally not an Open Access journal, but perhaps this fantastic occasion in which a whole section, due to its topic and disciplinary approach, is Open Access, the MLA could consider revising the terminology.
(Image above is a screen shot from <http://www.mlajournals.org/toc/prof/2011/1>. Accessed 09 December 2011).
These are minor details, of course, and this Open Access offering of timely essays is extremely welcomed at this exciting moment for scholarly evaluation and communications.
Maybe in the not-so-distant future Profession will be completely Open Access... An educated guess would suggest that would only maximise the MLA's international standing, citations, global membership and impact. In the meanwhile, let's celebrate this 2011 issue, which comes with truly vital food for thought.
PS. I particularly wish I (and many others) had had open access to read Hillary Chute's article,"Comics Form and Narrating Lives", which explores Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza.
If you are interested, in The Comics Grid Janine Utell wrote recently about Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Nina Mickwitz explored Footnotes in Gaza. (I also recently trasncribed for the Grid an interview with Sacco I conducted in 2002).