Discussion Paper

Joint ACH/ALLC Publications

Section Draft 1

Prepared by Geoffrey Rockwell

31 January 2003

 


 

The aims of the ADHO with respect to publications are to provide a framework within which related groups in the general ADHO domain can share publication resources to the greatest extent possible and initiate new publications. The chief goals are:

1.1 to create intellectual synergies and increase opportunities for interdisciplinary interaction through shared publications

1.2 to avoid conflicts or competition and proliferation of essentially similar, unsustainable publications

1.3 to achieve economies of scale in publications and reduce drain on the administrative resources of each group

1.4 to improve the quality of the publications in this domain by increasing their international breadth (for instance, by addressing the problems of translation and multilingualism)

1.5 to explore the possibilities for electronic publication and exploit appropriate publication technologies. To present the larger community with examples of best practices in electronic publication

 


 

The organizations represented on the ADHOC work group (TEI, ALLC, ACH, NINCH and STS) currently support the following publication activities:

2.1 TEI: Guidelines and Web Site

2.2 ALLC: LLC Journal with Oxford, Humanist jointly with ACH, CHWP jointly with ACH, and Web Site

2.3 ACH: CHUM Journal with Kluwer, Humanist jointly with ALLC, CHWP jointly with ALLC, Web Site and newsletter planned

2.4 NINCH: NINCH-Announce, Web Site, Meeting Reports and co-published books

2.5 STS: None

There are already two examples of publication collaboration, in Humanist and CHWP. There are also obvious opportunities for administrative collaboration as all of the organizations manage Web Sites. Both the ACH and the ALLC sponsor journals, but none of the organizations has an associated online peer reviewed journal with the exception of the CHWP which is a "pre-print" online publication.

 


 

Some of the possibilities for collaboration and the implications of these possibilities follow. It should be noted that these are the possibilities, in section 4 this document makes recommendations towards these.

3.1 Web Sites

The organizations merge common Web operations into one Web Management Group that could run the Web sites for all the groups using a common system and mirror the system on other continents. The Web Sites would continue to be distinct, but would be administered by a single technical group. Certain Web publication technologies could be standardized and a common search engine could be implemented. Further, a common conference archive could be implemented for conference abstracts from the participating organizations.

An issue to be considered in such a model would be how the different groups would support the central Web Management Group. The cost savings to individual groups would only come if they discontinued their existing Web services and allocated the funds for existing services to the central group. This may create problems if existing groups cannot transfer funds or if they already have a commitment to running a Web server for other reasons. Further, there would be an access issue - a central service might not be as responsive as local services.

3.2 News and Announcements

Ephemeral notices (announcements and news items) could be merged into a common news engine. The system could be managed by the Web Management Group. The system would allow users to enter a profile of their interests and associated editors to enter items that would be distributed on a regular basis to subscribers. A common news engine would have the advantage of cutting back on redundant messages and providing a single system to maintain with a common e-mail list.

One issue to be considered in such a model is the privacy of subscribers to individual organizations. How would individuals feel about finding their e-mail addressed used by a larger organization? A second issue would be the support for multilingual news. It would be important to support multilingual announcements, but the funds for translating announcements (and the time to do it) might not be available. A final issue would be the role of Humanist in this. To some extent Humanist already acts as a common news system - do we need another one? The ACH felt it needed a newsletter to reach out to its members. Do other organizations want to have such a "branded" newsletter?

3.3 Common Journal Publications Cycle

At the moment we have one online preprint activity (CHWP), two print journals (CHUM and LLC), and no online journal. It makes sense to reallocate and reorganize our activities so that we have a preprint initiative connected to an online journal and print journal. There are, however, significant issues around funding that need to be recognized:

3.3.1 What would be the impact of discontinuing one of the print journals (probably CHUM) as a society journal? While this would free the ACH from obligations that are limiting it could also lead to the demise of one of the key journals in the field.

3.3.2 How would the income from a single print journal be distributed among the societies? How would library subscriptions be distributed?

3.3.3 How do we ensure that the resulting publications are multilingual and what would that mean? The suggestion was that papers be accepted in a subset of European languages (French, Italian, German, Spanish, and English for example) and that abstracts be translated for all articles into these target languages by a unit (a University with a translation programme) funded to do so. Alternatively authors could be required to submit translated abstracts in at least one other supported language. It is worth noting that an online journal could better support multilingual abstracts and could even provide translated abstracts for print articles.

3.4 Book Series

Another common project suggested was a common book series. At the moment the TEI publishes its Guidelines in the form of a book (and other formats.) A joint book series could also include best-of conference papers, thematic collections, reprints of selected journal papers, and commissioned textbooks. Oxford, Blackwells and the University of Virginia were suggested as possible publishers. Such a book series could be designed to illustrate best practices in hybrid book-Web publishing where the print and online materials support each other in innovative ways. The choice of languages and the cost of translation would have to be considered carefully.

 


 

The AdHoc committee recommend the following projects be undertaken.

4.1 A joint Publications Committee (PC) be formed to manage the proposed publication activities on behalf of the relevant organizations. This committee would have representation from each of the member organizations. The committee would be responsible for drafting requests for proposals for new initiatives, monitoring the transition of existing publications, and overseeing the activities sponsored by the umbrella organization.

4.2 The ACH and ALLC merge their journal publications into a suite of three publications, a preprint online publication, a print journal and an online journal.

4.2.1 The preprint publication could be based on CHWP, but would be recast to be branded clearly as a common preprint publication that uses the same publishing technologies used in the online journal and the common Web Site. It would designed to allow for a seamless transition from preprint to review and publication in print or online. The activities of the preprint publication could be coordinated with other electronic activities (like STOA) so that there might be a network of coordinated preprint activities.

4.2.2 The print journal would be based on the LLC, though the PC could recommend a change in title and focus. The editorial board of the LLC would be expanded to include representatives from across the organizations. In principle, the income from the publication activities could be disbursed according to subscription levels, after central allocation of some of the income to fund common activities like the online journal and translations of abstracts. For a fuller discussion of this model, see the main Finances section of this paper.

4.2.3 A priority of this print publication would be develop a translations model, be it contracting translations or another model.

4.2.4 The PC would prepare a Request for Proposals for an online journal to be funded from the centrally allocated funds. The Request would go out after the transition to a common journal once we see what the available budget is. The online journal would not be just an extension of the LLC. It would solicit and publish new and original works.

4.3 Humanist would continue as is. A common news and announcement system would be developed as part of a common Web Site (see next item) that could evolve out of NINCH-Announce.

4.4. The PC prepare a Request for Proposals for a common Web Operation built on technologies that can support the activities desired. The goal would be to have a common Web Operation that can be used by individual organizations for their Web presence. We would pool our common operations into one Web Operation with a mirror on a different continent (or two.) The common operation would be funded by the existing organizations through the provision of services or contract funding. While the organizations would each have their own area of the common site, there would be shared elements including archives, news and announcement services, job postings and so on. Each of the organizations would be responsible for their own areas while the PC committee would oversee the common activities.

4.5 The PC prepare a detailed book series proposal for the allied organizations.

 


 

The transition process could proceed as follows:

5.1 The joint Publications Committee would be set up.

5.2 The ACH discontinue their agreement with Kluwer for CHUM. The umbrella organization would simultaneously negotiate with Oxford or another publisher to expand the LLC to be the associated publication for both societies. The ALLC has begun negotiations with Blackwell about LLC, these discussions could be expanded to include the ADHO Publications Committee

5.3 The PC would prepare a translation model for approval by the sponsoring organizations. Depending on the model an RfP may need to be prepared to find an organization to do the translations. The idea would be to find an organization that would translate abstracts for the journal. This could be negotiated with the publisher and managed by them. It could be part of a new agreement with Blackwell.

5.4 The PC would prepare a RfP for a common Web Operation. This would be have to first be negotiated with the ADHO allied organizations to see what funds/services they want shared and what they can contribute to this effort. It could be that it makes sense to have different sites that handle different activities which appear to be coordinated. Ideally we can develop for the common Web Operation a suite of technologies properly supported that would facilitate the other activities from the news items to preprint publications and other activities.

5.5 The PC would negotiate with CHWP to transform it into a common preprint "working papers" service that uses the same technologies used in the print journal and common Web sites. This new preprint service would be coordinated with interested other organizations and might take the form of a network of preprint services with different specialties.

5.6 The PC would negotiate with NINCH to redevelop NINCH-Announce into a common news and announcements system hosted at the common Web Operation.

5.7 Once the preprint and print journals are properly adapted then the PC would prepare a RfP for an online journal which would carry the translated abstracts of the LLC, provide a publication path for the working papers, and publish new and original works. The online journal could also include novel types of publications including interactive components and software.

5.8 Finally the PC would prepare a proposal for a book series for the allied associations. This could include the TEI Guidelines as the flagship product.

 


 

In a number of cases what is proposed is that the Publications Committee prepare Requests for Proposals to identify organizations that could best manage components of our publications strategy. This has the advantage that it allows us to approve something in principle and then to find the appropriate organization to provide different services. It has the disadvantage that it might create coordination problems between activities. It also assumes that individual organizations will be managing services on the part of the umbrella organization - it might make sense to create a single administrative office that manages selected activities.

The transition to a common journal will have to be carefully managed as that is the one revenue producing activity and it is an important activity for the community. A graceful negotiation of the Kluwer agreement would ease the transition. We would also have to work out in detail the division of subscription funds. As the ALLC is currently negotiating with Blackwell for the LLC, this too will have to be taken into consideration.

The move to a common Web Operation needs to be thought out more. As I see it we want a common technology platform that allows groups to easily implement and manage different types of information activities from news systems to the TEI guidelines. Most of the technologies are implemented at one existing site or another. The idea is to aggregate them and aggregate the volunteer services (and paid services) to achieve more.

The heart of this proposal is that there is a coordinated set of publications from the ephemeral news items, to the preprint working paper, to publication in print or online. That is one reason we need a joint committee - to make sure the different activities are coordinated and a working paper can be submitted easily for review after revision. Ideally the resulting coordinated activities would become examples of best practice in the humanities. We should be lead by example.

  1. Aims and objectives
  2. Current practices
  3. Range of Possibilities
  4. Proposal
  5. Process
  6. Issues

 


 

Resp: G Rockwell [minor editing: H Short; html: Alicia Kent]
Date: 24Feb03