Open Scholarship Initiative Proceedings (seems to be taking a journal-like form, with Vol. 1 now available)

The Inaugural Conference of the Open Scholarship Initative (above) seems to have missed the opportunity to establish a strand on ‘public search and discovery of OA’. But the paper “Information Overload & Underload” is the closest — a usefully concise overview of search, clearly given in broad brush strokes, and I’d suggest that it’s a primer that could be usefully passed on to an eager undergraduate or two.

In passing, this paper usefully highlights the potential to produce many more “The Year’s Work in X” survey articles…

…efforts that compile and promote the best publications over a specified period, whether selected by an expert jury or on the basis of post-publication use and citation metrics, alert investigators to impactful work in venues they might otherwise have overlooked.

Indeed, one could imagine a set of annual OA journals in the humanities, devoted only to such scholarly survey articles. Each long article would authoritatively survey the year’s work in one facet of a well-defined field of study. Such a journal might be preferable to the easier and more humdrum option of pushing out a bare hyperlinked ‘overlay journal + editor’s intro’, although it would be vastly more work. Nevertheless, I guess that some retired academics might welcome the opportunity to support their field in such a substantial manner, and memorial bequests might then support the ongoing financing of such time-consuming journals. Writing one 30,000-word annual survey essay for a friendly collegiate OA journal might be a more rewarding and public activity for many retirees, compared to continuing to grind out ten unpublished solo peer reviews of unpublishable papers for commercial journals.

A few such journals already exist deep within the subscription system, though in literary/historical studies the articles tend to be shorter and broader than I’d like, while focussing only on what can be found via an academic library’s discovery database (omitting grey literature, fannish works, independent scholars, items in small print-only society journals, OA items etc). Anyway I’ve never found one that’s ongoing and published in Open Access. If a wealthy philanthropist or foundation wanted to make a sustained splash, they might do worse than to set up a string of six such OA journals in their favoured field. Plus a trust to fund the retired academics who would run the journals, with a remit that they should prefer quality and deep scholarship while raising a sceptical eyebrow at fashionable easily-gamed metrics and superficial claims of ‘impact’.

Personally I would love to see, for instance, an annual OA journal of long survey essays titled The Year’s Work on Weird and Supernatural Fiction, with a table of contents that might include long surveys such as “The Year’s Work on H. P. Lovecraft and his circle” etc. Admitted there would be a high cost in simply acquiring the material for such an essay, if one wished to read everything — including the relevant essays locked away in expensive $80 academic anthologies or in collectable small-press titles (for the latter, miss the initial launch window and ooops… the vital book is then out-of-print and only available for $120+ on the collectables market). Alternatively, and far more cheaply, the journal might only survey content that’s freely and publicly available in OA.