Adventures in Open Access: Plato's Dogs, Unleashed

It was paragraph three, section b) of the Contributor Publishing Agreement from Indiana University Press that gave me pause.

In it I read that I would not be permitted to post the final published version of my article, “Who Let the Dogs Out? Tracking the Philosophical Life among the Wolves and Dogs of Plato’s Republic,” on my website until a full year after the date of its publication. The essay is part of a volume edited by Michael Naas and Jeremy Bell entitled: Plato’s Animals, and it includes essays from many respected colleagues from the Ancient Philosophy Society.

I was honored to be invited to contribute and happy to write the article, but now I felt conflicted.

I did not want to delay the publication of the volume, but I knew too that if my essay was to be made as accessible as possible, I would need to advocate strongly for its publication in an Open Access (OA) format.

After my experience with my essay on walking with Aristotle, I recognized that I couldn’t sign the publishing agreement now and request Open Access later. If the article was to be OA, I needed to insist upon it now.

So I wrote my friend Michael Naas to explain that my commitment to open access publication is rooted in the idea that academic publishing is a creative public activity designed to cultivate community. My suggestion was to see if Indiana University Press (IUP) would be open to the idea of publishing my essay in an OA format as a way to leverage my online presence to drive traffic to and interest in the larger volume. The idea would be for IUP to allow my essay to be fully accessible, but to market the volume on the site through which one gained access to my essay.

Michael and Jeremy were supportive from the start, and they brought the idea to Peter Froehlich, Rights and Permissions Manager, and Dee Mortensen, Senior Sponsoring Editor, at IUP, both of whom became champions of the idea.

Now, all the challenges facing university presses in the digital age remain somewhat opaque to me, although I do recommend Patrick Alexander’s essay, Teaching an Old University Press Publisher New Tricks: Living in the Present and Preparing for the Future of Scholarly Communications, for some insight. But I understand enough to realize that having champions at the Press and the full support of the editors of the volume would be critical in convincing IUP to take on this experiment in OA publishing.

Having an online presence, it seems, also made an important difference. The Press was interested in particular in the “compass of followers, page-views, visitors, shares, or any other alt metrics that [I] might be tracking.” For those who doubt the importance of creating an online scholarly presence, keep in mind that publishers are increasingly interested in such metrics.

Cultivating an authentic and robust online academic presence can seed new publishing opportunities.

Ultimately, IUP agreed to publish my work in an OA format, and I received a revised publishing agreement. Paragraph three, section b) had been removed and replaced with this sentence: “The Press will offer the Author’s contribution in its post-print form OA in step with the publication of the Work.”

My essay on Plato’s dogs had been unleashed.

Abstract of “Who Let the Dogs Out? Tracking the Philosophical Life among the Wolves and Dogs of Plato’s Republic

Philosophers have long privileged vision as a metaphor of philosophical cognition. And if not vision, then hearing or taste or even touch have provided a way to understand the world. Smell, however, is rarely mentioned, let alone deployed as a mode of philosophical discernment. In “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Christopher Long tracks the scent of wolves and dogs in Plato’s Republic in pursuit of its central teachings. Adopting an olfactory methodology puts readers on the trail of a philosophical life situated between the tyrannical tendencies of the wolf and the loyal obedience of the well-trained dog. By following the scent of canines in the Republic, Long points to Socrates’ teaching in the dialogue–where the philosophical life unfolds as the attempt to put the ideals of justice, beauty, and the good into words capable of enriching human relationships and the wider world we encounter.

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  • […] But I was newly drawn to blogging by a number of factors.  First, I was convinced by Christopher P. Long’s argument about the importance of “Cultivating an Online Scholarly Presence.”  This factor is more about establishing the domain than the blog.  In an Internet Age, having the capacity to control your online presence is crucial.  Having my own domain allows people to find my work easily and enables me to curate my publications and public lectures to make people aware of my work.  On this domain, I can collect published work that is already publicly available but perhaps difficult to find.  I can inform people of my current and ongoing projects before they come to publication in a world where manuscripts often don’t make it to print until a year after completion.  Building this online presence also gives a scholar leverage with publishers who are interested in the metrics that I can track on one’s domain, as Long describes in “Adventures in Open Access.” […]

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