The Seal of the Association of American Universities

A Few Reflections on the TOME Initiative

By | Digital Scholarship | One Comment

WASHINGTON, DC – Today a group of colleagues from the Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of University Presses met to advance the Towards an Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME) initiative. It was heartening to see the progress the initiative has made since our first gathering in the summer of 2016. At the time, I was enthusiastic about the effort to leverage University funding to support the open access publication of monographs by scholars in the humanities and social sciences. What I wrote then about the importance of this initiative, I feel more urgently today:

Publishing is one important way the humanities are put into practice. Ideas only enter the public realm when they are made public — that is, when they are published. But publishing is not simply a matter of making ideas public; it is also an opportunity to create publics, to establish relationships around shared values and ideas, and by extension, to transform existing realities in light of new possibilities opened by novel ways of thinking.

This commitment to make ideas public so as to enrich public life remains at the heart of the TOME endeavor. Today, a committed group of publishers, librarians, scholars, and administrators gathered to discuss how to strategically advance the initiative in months and years to come.

The most exciting development over the past year has been the publication of Open Access monographs, which we are curating through our referetory 1 using Figshare. The TOME Referetory will grow considerably over the next year as more monographs are added, while Figshare will enable us to track usage of the texts across the web.

Over the course of the day I tried to capture some of the wide ranging conversation on my microblog (cplong.net) using the TOME tag, but the texture of the conversation was too rich to convey adequately. Here, however, before the day is out, I’d like to capture two ideas that might shape the way forward.

Undertake the Messy Work

Much of our attention as we’ve developed this initiative as been focused on questions concerning infrastructure, standards, and the logistics associated with cultivating an ecosystem of open access long-form digital scholarship. And rightly so, for focusing on these issues of long-term sustainability, growth, and broad adoption will enable us to create the conditions under which such substantive contributions to the scholarly record can thrive and last.

However, the initiative has benefited greatly from a tendency to try things, by a willingness to do something based on the support of fourteen committed universities and a substantive and growing number of Association of University Presses. Without having it all quite figured out, we pressed forward to publish the work.

This tendency to act has served us well; for by publishing books, we are learning what works and what does not. That this can be a successful strategy was reinforced today by a story Frank Smith, Director, Books at JSTOR, told about JSTOR’s experiment with publishing OA monographs. Frank said, as Greg Britton tweeted:

@JSTOR has nearly 3,000 #OpenAccess books that have gotten over 6.5 million views. 18x the usage of other books on their site.

This is striking evidence for the value of open access monographs. Simply put, open access monographs are more widely read. If scholars want to be read as opposed to simply being published, we need to advocate for Open Access; we need to find ways to make our work broadly available online and to support initiative that make that accessibility sustainable. Real traction for initiatives like TOME will remain elusive until scholars across the globe insist that their work be openly accessible.

Even if, as Dean Smith, Director of Cornell University Press, put it: “Everything about ebooks is messy,” we can’t afford to wait until it is less messy to act.

Scholarly Practice

If, however, our attempts to create an ecosystem for OA monographs is to have a deeper impact on the practices of scholarship, scholars will need to more proactively consider the affordances digital modes of publishing offer us to make our ideas public in innovative ways. This is a question, I have argued, of performative consistency; and it returns us to the deeply reciprocal relationship between form and content. My own failed attempt to create a living, interactive digital book notwithstanding, scholars in the humanities and social sciences ought to focus intellectual attention and effort on considering how the manner in which our ideas make their way into the public domain might amplify, reinforce, and deepen a reader’s engagement with the arguments we make.

If it is successful, the TOME initiative will create an ecosystem in which richly developed ideas can be made openly accessible. How those ideas are engaged by other scholars, how they are taken up, responded to, criticized and built upon in order to transform the world in which we live will depend upon the creative imagination and generosity of our colleagues. We inhabit now a new, more dynamic, world of public ideas–whether they enrich or impoverish our lives together will depend largely upon our ability to cultivate new habits of public scholarship rooted a commitment to the humanistic sensibilities capable of creating a more just and beautiful world.

Humanities Commons and the Cultivation of Sustainable Communities

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | No Comments

As we navigate the intense period of transformation in human communication through which we are living, identifying ways to nurture sustainable communities through which scholarship can be shared, discovered, and enhanced gains urgency. So many of the platforms through which we might cultivate scholarly lives together — Facebook, Twitter, Google, Academia.edu — are compromised by business models designed to maximize profit rather than advance scholarship.

When the Humanities Commons opened to the public a year ago, I was an early adopter and strong advocate. My work has long been focused on attempts to create vibrant communities of scholarly practice that nurture transformative scholarship. Whether through pedagogical practices that empower students to bring their voices to the public or through a podcast that practices the excellences of dialogue in a digital age, my own teaching and research have been enriched by exposure to and engagement with a broader community of people interested in and committed to the work.

Creating and sustaining communities that advance the ideas of a wide diversity of scholars, both within the academy and more broadly among the public, require us to support nonprofit sites of community gathering that embody the core values of equity, inclusion, openness, and preservation. The Humanities Commons has emerged as just such a gathering site. Its mission is to nurture scholarly communities by serving the needs of scholars as we engage in research and pedagogy that enriches a broader public.

When I first joined Humanities Commons a year ago, I quickly set up a profile, uploaded my work to the CORE repository, and joined groups in research areas to which I am committed, including those associated with two initiatives that are themselves designed to enhance the quality and scope of scholarship, the Public Philosophy Journal and HuMetricsHSS. Even so, however, I myself have not yet fully integrated the Humanities Commons into the workflow of my scholarly life. Yet, if this community is to become a genuine and sustainable space for conversation that enriches and advances scholarship, it will need to be nurtured by our best work, our ethical imagination, and our sustained attention.

This scholarly commons will only be as rich and textured as we, collectively, put it into practice.

So in celebrating this first year of the Humanities Commons, let us reaffirm our commitment to enliven this common place with the generosity of spirit and deliberate diligence that has long sustained and deepened the scholarship to which so many of us have dedicated our lives.

 

Critical Diversity in a Digital Age

By | Digital Humanities, The Administrative Life, The Long Road | 3 Comments

Last year we developed a strategic plan in the College of Arts & Letters that called for a cluster hire in culturally engaged digital humanities that focuses on humanities questions of race, inclusion, cultural preservation, global interconnectedness, and engaged scholarship.

This fall, we sent out a call for proposals to the chairs and program directors inviting them to envision a strategic hiring initiative that would be transformative by cultivating strong, collaborative leadership in digital humanities scholarship and teaching by attracting innovative scholars from traditionally underrepresented groups.

We received a number of compelling proposals, two of which we asked the partnering programs to develop into a more unified and visionary initiative. After considerable conversation among faculty and leadership in partnering units, the initiative, which we are calling “Critical Diversity in a Digital Age,” has been refined to a point at which it would benefit from broader, more public engagement.

Since one dimension of the initiative is to cultivate participatory networks of scholarship and because we seek to practice the scholarship for which we advocate, I thought I would open a more public conversation as we attempt to further flesh out the theory that animates our approach. In posting this publicly, we invite colleagues both inside and beyond the College of Arts & Letters to use hypothes.is to comment on and help us refine the initiative. Please tag comments associated with your engagement with this initiative: #MSUCDDA.

Critical Diversity in a Digital Age

At its heart, the Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative is, as the faculty proposal put it, “committed to addressing the intersection of digital theory and practice with issues of social justice and human difference.” Difference here includes, but is not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, abledness, ….

The proposal goes on to articulate the notion of critical diversity with which we are operating:

Our use of critical diversity signals a nuanced, intersectional approach to representing human difference as well as a skepticism over the ‘human’ as it is framed through much work in the digital humanities. In short, we believe that assertive, unique, and transformative scholarship, creativity, and pedagogy dealing with race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and other forms of difference are central to digitally engaged student learning in the 21st century.

The manner in which the proposal combines theory and practice on one hand and research and pedagogy on the other will enable us to create an enriching feedback loop in which our theories are practiced, our practices theorized.

The proposal goes on to identify at least three activities that would inform the initiative: reclaiming, preserving, and interconnecting. Before further delineating these activities, however, it will be helpful to attend more intentionally to the phrase “critical diversity in a digital age.” The proposal does a nice job of specifying the kinds of diversity in which we are interested, the diversity associated with the lived experience of human differences. More specifically, our interest is not abstract, but oriented toward questions of social justice as it plays out in a digital age, broadly understood. Critical here, however, is the meaning of “critical” itself.

In attempting to think through the meaning of critique here, it is helpful to draw upon a broader history associated with critical theory, without however, embracing the overemphasis on emancipation we find in critical theorists like Adorno and Horkheimer. Orienting ourselves toward justice in addition to freedom will enable us to focus our scholarship on concerns that, when put into practice, enrich the communities with which we are engaged.

We might then consider three dimensions of the activity of critique associated with the Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative:

  1. To expose the limits of existing practices and structures of reality in order to interrogate the conditions under which they operate and thus to uncover what they enable and prevent;
  2. To discern what is possible in the wake of this exposure so that we might imagine more just possibilities of engagement;
  3. To enact practices of justice and indeed freedom rooted in and animated by discerning critique.

Perhaps we could summarize the initiative as animated by a desire to put discerning critique into practice and thus to allow our practices to be informed by and in turn inform our responses to questions of diversity in a digital age.

Do these dimensions of critique begin to delineate the contours of our approach to diversity in a digital age? It would be helpful to have some feedback here to help further refine the meaning of critique in this context.

The proposal suggested at least three activities around which the initiative might begin to focus its efforts:

  1. Reclaiming: using digital methods to locate, present, and engage with texts, practices, and media productions that for various historical, cultural, and socioeconomic reasons have been neglected, underappreciated, or ignored;
  2. Preserving: promoting the use and creation of digital archives and other sites with attention to how knowledge is produced and valued in the first place; engaging issues related to form, aesthetic, and material transformations, reception, access, and dissemination;
  3. Interconnecting: building participatory networks through publishing practices and other innovative modes of scholarly practice that create enriching publics, advance knowledge, and orient our efforts toward questions of social justice.

This is not, of course, an exhaustive list of activities that would animate the initiative, but it helps us point to possible directions of initial investment.

With this theoretical framework as a background, are there examples of projects and questions that can help us clarify the sorts of questions critical diversity in a digital age might interrogate?

Here are a few examples to which Bill Hart-Davidson, Associate Dean for Graduate Education, pointed us, but we welcome more examples to help us further refine the initiative:

Machine Bias

Digital Redlining

These are but two of a wide range of issues and topics that might be engaged through an initiative that focuses on Critical Diversity in a Digital Age. We invite you to add examples through the #MSUCDDA tag on Hypothes.is. I’ll continue to curate examples here below.

Nurturing Fulfilling Scholarly Lives

By | Digital Scholarship, Education | No Comments

In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, there is a famous passage in which he reminds us that “to be happy takes a complete lifetime; for one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one fine day; and similarly one day or a brief period of happiness does not make a person blessed and happy” (Nic. Eth., 1098a16–20).

This passage came to frame our conversations around #Humetrics at this week’s Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute, because it reminds us that a fulfilling life — what Aristotle calls, eudaimonia, happiness, that is, a life well lived — requires cultivated habits rooted in core values that, when intentionally practiced, shape the character of a good life.

In the end, what we value should be embodied in what we do, not once or twice, but regularly over the course of a lifetime.

In framing our conversation about #Humetrics with this ancient conception of ethics, excellence, and character, we seek also to advance and reinforce the idea that a scholarly life can only be well lived in communities of practice with others.

For the #Humetrics team, this year’s Triangle SCI experience was a swallow that signifies but does not yet fully manifest the coming spring. It opened for us a space for the flowering of a community of practice oriented toward the question of how we might more broadly cultivate communities of practice that embody the values of fulfilling scholarly lives.

Five Core Excellences of Enriching Scholarship

core-excellencesWorking out loud together, we identified five core excellences of enriching scholarship:

Rebecca Kennison wrote about Equity.

View story at Medium.com

Simone Sacchi wrote about Openness.

View story at Medium.com

His point was amplified further by Rebecca Kennison in her post about The Value of Openness.

I wrote about Collegiality.

View story at Medium.com

jasonrhody wrote about Quality.

View story at Medium.com
Nicky Agate wrote about Community.

View story at Medium.com

And Stacy Konkiel sought to tie things together by distinguishing between enriching and corrosive values:

View story at Medium.com

In writing together in this way, we seek to embody the excellences for which we advocate.

The question that animates our work is this:

The Winter of Our Discontent

For too long, we humanists have been allergic to metrics. This allergy has prevented us from engaging in a serious and sustained conversation about what practices of scholarship we might want to cultivate and incentivize both through the activities we measure and those we celebrate.

As a result, a large and growing battery of metrics have been developed based on the practices of more scientifically oriented scholarship or simply on what it was possible to use our technologies to measure.

Current metrics of humanities scholarship have been shown to be too blunt to capture the multiple dimensions of scholarly output and impact (see, Haustein and Larivière). In addition, the inappropriate nature of current indicators can incentivize perverse scholarly practices (see, The Metric Tide, Wilsdon et. al.).

A critical component of our emerging #Humetrics conversation at Triangle SCI involves finding ways to expose, highlight, and recognize the important scholarship that goes into the all-too-hidden work of peer review, syllabus development, conference organizing, mentoring, etc. Our current metrics fail to capture what is most substantive about the rich life of scholarship we practice together in living academic communities.

In this context, our challenge and our responsibility is to articulate, incentivize, and reward practices that enrich our shared scholarly lives and expand our understanding of scholarship itself.

Without being naïve about how difficult it is to change culture, we hope to begin to reshape the conversation about metrics around the values of enriching scholarly practices and the communities in which they thrive.

Although our time together at the Triangle SCI was only one swallow that does not yet make a spring, the seeds planted there may begin to take root over the weeks and months to come, and the communities of scholarship that blossomed there just might be “made glorious by this sun” that shines when a broader public is invited to join the conversation.

humetricsteam

Bringing Your CV to Life

By | Blogging and Social Media, Digital Scholarship, Presentation: Interactive, The Long Road, Vita | 2 Comments

Traditionally, a curriculum vitae (CV) is an articulation of one’s qualifications and accomplishments in an academic context. The Latin root of the term suggests the extent to which the CV indicates a “course of life.”

Despite the dynamic and organic connotations of this Latin root, most CVs are printed documents updated periodically by faculty members as we accumulate accomplishments rather than living expressions of the course of our academic lives.

Increasingly, however, faculty are beginning to take advantage of the affordances of digital modes of scholarly communication not simply to document accomplishments and credentials, but more ambitiously to cultivate communities of practice and engagement around the work we are doing.

Inexpensive hosting services (like Reclaim Hosting), powerful publishing platforms (like WordPress) that are easy to set up and broadly accessible, and the wide adoption of social media (TwitterFacebook) have opened new opportunities for us to create communities of colleagues interested in our work and capable of enriching it through dialogical response and collaboration.

The barriers to our success in creating and nurturing such communities of scholarship on the web are now less technological than they are cultural. Our habits of online communication, scholarly and otherwise, remain immature; we are still learning what we can do with our new technologies and what they are doing with us.

The situation in which we find ourselves calls for examples and opportunities to reflect together on what is possible in a course of a scholarly life rooted in digital modes of engagement.

The Academic Advancement Network (#msuaan) session on October 4, 2016, brings faculty together from across campus who have created dynamic and living online spaces that open new opportunities not simply for wide exposure, but more significantly, for collaboration and engagement that can enrich and advance the quality of their work.

A major challenge for highly productive faculty is how to integrate habits of online community building into our everyday scholarly workflow so we are not pulled away from our research and teaching.

In identifying these colleagues, calling them together, and amplifying their work, we have sought in the session and here online, to embody a culture of generosity, amplification, and engagement that we hope will begin to take root and grow, not only here at Michigan State University, but more broadly across other academic communities and their emerging digital networks.

This approach is consistent with the long-standing MSU land-grant commitment to advancing knowledge through public engagement, and it’s integral to bringing our academic work to life.

Participants in the Oct. 4th #msuaan session include:

Alexandra Hidalgo: http://alexandrahidalgo.com/

David Lowery: https://davidbryantlowry.wordpress.com/

Dylan Miner: http://www.wiisaakodewinini.com

Robby Ratan: http://www.robbyratan.com/

Chris Long: http://www.cplong.org/

Investing in Humanities Publishing

By | Dean, Digital Humanities, Digital Scholarship, The Administrative Life, The Long Road | 2 Comments

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the headquarters of the Association of American Universities in Washington, D.C. early last week to take part in a discussion about a new model for open access digital monograph publishing in the humanities.

The meeting, organized by a Task Force convened by the AAU, American Association of University Presses, and the Association of Research Libraries, included an impressive group of directors of university presses, deans of libraries, and academic administrators.

I was there to represent Michigan State University. In February, Provost June Youatt asked me for feedback on the Task Force’s proposal to establish a sustainable model by which long-form humanities scholarship could be published in a digital open access format. The proposal called for up-front institutional funding for the open access publication of manuscripts accepted through standing AAUP best practices for peer review.

I was enthusiastic.

Given my work on the Public Philosophy Journal, my service on the Board of Directors of K|N Consultants with its Open Access Network initiative, and my own efforts to publish my book on Socratic and Platonic politics as an open access enhanced digital book, I arrived in Washington prepared to put my commitment to open access into sustainable structural practice.

Still, I was not sure what to expect because we have heard so much — too much — about the “crisis” of the humanities in general, and of scholarly communication in particular. Further, the ecosystem of scholarly publishing is complicated — faculty depend on acquisition editors, presses depend on libraries, tenure and promotion processes depend on the integrity of peer review …. With so many moving parts and with so much at stake, developing a supportive and sustainable funding model for open access is daunting.

From the beginning, however, it was clear that the Task Force, under the leadership of John Vaughn, Elliott Shore, and Peter Bekery, had gathered a group of creative, thoughtful, and generous colleagues who were willing to imagine what might be possible if universities committed to fully funding the cost of open access monograph publication up front.

Questions of cost, addressed by the Ithaka Report on the Costs of Publishing Monographs and qualified in interesting ways by John Sherer of the UNC Press, did not derail the conversation, which took a decisive and, in my view, positive turn when we agreed not to frame the initiative as a response to a crisis in either the humanities or in publishing.

Far the better strategy is to seed an initiative that will establish a sustainable publishing workflow designed to expand access to and engagement with humanities scholarship.

Publishing is one important way the humanities are put into practice. Ideas only enter the public realm when they are made public — that is, when they are published. But publishing is not simply a matter of making ideas public; it is also an opportunity to create publics, to establish relationships around shared values and ideas, and by extension, to transform existing realities in light of new possibilities opened by novel ways of thinking.

Attempts to establish a sustainable financial model for open access publishing in the humanities should ultimately be motivated by a commitment to advancing the capacity of humanities scholarship to transform, enrich, and shape publics.

As a dean, I understand any up-front contributions the College of Arts & Letters would make to facilitate the open access publications of our faculty as an investment in the transformative power of the humanities.

Beyond the important academic benefits of having the work of our faculty more widely read and cited lies the land-grant mission of Michigan State University to “advance knowledge and transform lives,” to educate “globally engaged citizen leaders” and to facilitate research and scholarship that will lead “to a better quality of life for individuals and communities, at home and around the world.”

Broadly accessible humanities scholarship, work that is not merely published, but widely read, enriches public life by enabling us to imagine and create more just and responsive publics.

This ideal of the humanities deeply woven into the fabric of public life motivates my own humanities scholarship and administrative work; and it animates my interest in the work of the Task Force to seed and support a sustainable financial model for open access long-form humanities publishing.

I was heartened by the conversation we had in Washington, D.C. last week and by the emerging plans to establish a process, funding model, and workflow that will enable us to begin publishing open access long-form humanities scholarship in the near future.

More heartening still, however, is the palpable sense of what is possible when universities, presses, and libraries collaborate across institutions to expand public access to humanities scholarship capable of enriching public life.

* * *

This have been cross published on Medium:

View story at Medium.com

The @PubPhilJ Paradigm

By | The Long Road, The Public Philosophy Journal | No Comments

At Bucknell’s Digital Scholarship Conference last fall, Zeynep Tufekci made a compelling case for public academic writing. Her keynote address, Researching Out Loud: Public Scholarship as a Process of Publishing Before and After Publishing, argued that public academic writing can have enriching effects on both public discourse and the research and pedagogy of individual scholars.

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Coffee, Smart Phones, and Open Access in the Humanities

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | One Comment

@cplong: Advocacy for Open Access in the humanities is gaining momentum. I myself have committed to reviewing articles for Open Access journals and am working with colleagues to develop a new model of open access online publishing in philosophy via the Public Philosophy Journal. But it’s easy to advocate for OA, especially for established scholars, but what are the wider implications of OA in the humanities, and what sustainable funding models can be identified that would make more scholarship openly accessible to a wider public?

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Adventures in Open Access: Plato's Dogs, Unleashed

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | One Comment

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.

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The Public Philosophy Journal at #DH2014

By | Presentations, The Public Philosophy Journal, Vita | 2 Comments

In this poster session, we present the project of the Public Philosophy Journal and our plans for cultivating a community of engaged scholars to sustain it.

At the session, we explain our motivations for designing the journal to perform public philosophy as its mode of publication, highlight the journal’s role as a hub for community-sourced curation and open peer review of existing work, and introduce our model for the collaborative writing and editing of publicly engaged scholarship.

We draw attention to common aims of differing conceptions of public philosophy, and discuss how the PPJ will leverage digital media in promoting both reasoned deliberation concerning the public good and the modeling of virtues of thought, expression, and action within the public sphere.

Here is the poster itself, designed in collaboration with Matrix at Michigan State:

Public Philosophy Journal Poster for DH2014

Public Philosophy Journal Poster for DH2014

Toward an Ethics of Philosophy in a Digital Age

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | 3 Comments

To honor the work of Richard Bernstein and specifically his influence as a teacher at the New School for Social Research, Marcia Morgan and Jonathan Pickle invited a group of his former students to write essays for a volume entitled The Philosophical Spirit of the New School: A Festschrift in Honor of Richard J. Bernstein. I am making a draft of my contribution available here for comment in an attempt to live out the argument I make in it about the ethics of philosophy as a practice of public communication.

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Seeding Publics from a World of Readers

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | One Comment

In his own essay on Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?,” Foucault ascribes to Baudelaire a modern attitude that captures well the spirit of Kant’s public essay on enlightenment.

For Baudelaire, according to Foucault, modernity is “an exercise in which extreme attention to what is real is confronted with the practice of the liberty that simultaneously respects this reality and violates it.”

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The Most Innocuous Freedom, Everywhere in Chains

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | 10 Comments

In his famous 1784 essay, What is Enlightenment?, Kant identifies the activity of enlightenment with a certain way of being public. This post considers that essay as a performance of public philosophy, arguing that in advocating in public for the public use of reason, Kant is engaged in an important public philosophical practice: the attempt to use words to cultivate the habits of mature thinking and acting in and with the public.

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To Be Published or To Be Read

By | Digital Scholarship, The Long Road | 12 Comments

To be published or to be read, that is the question scholars increasingly face.

Although publications with reputable university presses or journals continue to be the cornerstone of the tenure and promotion process, many remain inaccessible to a broad audience, bound up, as they often are, in paper volumes or locked behind paywalls required by the outmoded business practices of scholarly publishers.

Take this recent experience as illustrative of the situation scholars committed to Open Access face.

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Public Digital Scholarship: The @PubPhilJ at the #APAEastern

By | Presentation: Academic, Presentation: Interactive, The Public Philosophy Journal, Vita | No Comments

This presentation on the Public Philosophy Journal, invited by the APA Committee on Public Philosophy, provides an update on the status of the development of the open access, open peer review journal.

However difficult it is to create an open access, open peer review site of excellent digital scholarship, the Public Philosophy Journal includes a yet more ambitious performative dimension: the PPJ seeks to perform, as its very mode of scholarly publication, the sort of public philosophy it hopes to cultivate and amplify.

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The Peer Review Coordinator and the Collegiality Index

By | The Long Road, The Public Philosophy Journal | 10 Comments

As we sought to map out the design and functionality of the PPJ with colleagues at Matrix a few weeks ago, we began to suggest how a disciplinary economy of an open peer review might be navigated in ways that at once ensure rigor and maximize collegiality. Recognizing that peer review itself is an important scholarly activity, this post outlines the contours of one aspect of the PPJ user score, the “Collegiality Index.”

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Digital Dialogue 68: Building the PPJ

By | Digital Dialogue Podcast, The Public Philosophy Journal | 2 Comments

During our first planning trip to Matrix at Michigan State to develop the Public Philosophy Journal, Mark Fisher and I sat down to talk with Ethan Watrall and Bill Hart-Davidson about creating the journal as an ecosystem of scholarly communication.

Ethan Watrall (aka: @Captain_Primate) is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Michigan State and Associate Director of Matrix. In addition, Ethan is Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative and the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool here at Michigan State.

Ethan’s research interests fall in the domain of cultural heritage informatics, with particular (though hardly exclusive) focus on digital archaeology and serious games & meaningful play for cultural heritage learning, outreach, and engagement.

Bill Hart-Davidson (aka: @billhd) is Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Writing and Director of the Rhetoric & Writing Graduate Program. He is Senior Researcher at WIDE Research at Matrix Writing in Digital Environments Research, and a co-inventor of Eli Review , a web service for coordinating and evaluating peer review. Bill is currently President of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing and in January he will become the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Arts and Letters.

The four of us discuss five functional aspects of the Public Philosophy Journal: the user profile, the open peer review process, curation, collaborative writing, and the publication itself-complete with the process by which it came into being.

As you listen, we invite your thoughts and comments here or on the Public Philosophy Journal blog.

Accountability and Public Scholarship

By | Blogging and Social Media, Digital Research, The Long Road | No Comments

With the announcement that Mellon has funded the first year of the Public Philosophy Journal, I have been thinking more reflectively on what it means to do public scholarship. Receiving the grant is, however, only one of a confluence of recent experiences that have forced me to consider how best to cultivate habits of excellent public scholarship in digital contexts.

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Performative Publication in a Digital Age

By | Digital Humanities, Presentation: Academic, Vita | No Comments

New affordances in dynamic modes of digital scholarly communication have enabled authors to tailor the content of our texts to the forms in which they appear in public.

This presentation focuses on two performative publication projects I am currently undertaking: Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading to be published by Cambridge University Press, and the Public Philosophy Journal which is in the final stages of being considered for a Mellon Grant.

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The Digital Research Circle Completed

By | Digital Research, The Long Road | No Comments

In April 2010, I began blogging about closing the digital research circle. The iPad had just been released and I had just moved from Endnote to Zotero to take advantage of its ability to share collections and foster collaboration. It was a heady time and I was excited by the possibilities these new technologies offered for a completely digital research cycle.

The hope was to be able to move through the gathering, annotating, note taking, crafting, writing and citing phases of my academic research without printing or interacting with paper.

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The Evolving Book: Introduction

By | Books, Digital Humanities, The Evolving Book, The Long Road | 2 Comments

As my book, Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading, goes officially into editorial production on the print side of Cambridge University Press, I have started to work with Mike Chaplin on the innovative features of the enhanced digital book.

From the beginning, this book has sought to put a certain kind of public scholarship and engagement into practice by leveraging digital media to cultivate community around the ideas for which the book itself argues. So it is only fitting to continue in that spirit of publicness by sharing and reflecting upon the process by which we are developing what I hope are innovative aspects of the digital book itself.

Mike has graciously agreed to let me share some of his mockups as we work through how the book will ultimately look and feel in a digital environment. From the beginning of this project, the process itself has been the product; so it makes sense to document and reflect upon the process by which the digital book itself evolves.

The original book proposal was rather traditional, as I wanted it to go through all the standard processes of peer review required of any other manuscript submitted to Cambridge.

Robert Dreesen, the editor with whom I have been working, has been extremely supportive from the beginning. He saw the value of both the philosophical content of the book and the attempt to publish it in a way that performs the book’s central argument – that reading is a political activity.

In making that argument in the book, I trace the manner in which Platonic writing is designed to cultivate in readers three virtues of community:

  1. The ability to attend to the individual in concrete contexts so as to open new possibilities of more just relationships;
  2. A hermeneutical imagination capable of diagnosing the limits of existing political realities;
  3. The capacity to put a vision of the just, the beautiful, and the good into words that can enrich the communities in which we live.

What features of an enhanced digital book would cultivate such virtues of community? How can the design of the digital book itself embody and foster these virtues? How can I, as author, respond to readers in ways that model them?

These are the questions that will inform design decisions about the electronic book. Can we design a book to cultivate a community of readers capable of these virtues of community?

This series of posts under the heading The Evolving Book will be an attempt to articulate and document the process by which the book itself came into being.

Cultivating the Virtues of DH

By | Academic, Digital Humanities, The Long Road | 3 Comments

Last week humanities scholars from around the world descended upon Lincoln, Nebraska for DH2013, the annual international conference of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations.

It was my first time at the DH conference and I certainly felt welcomed by everyone I met, reinforcing my sense that, as an endeavor, the digital humanities brings together a wide variety of very creative, intelligent people committed to working across and between disciplinary boundaries.

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Research Cycle Returns to Zotero

By | Digital Research, The Long Road | 6 Comments

Even as I press to finish an article on dogs and wolves in Plato’s Republic for a volume entitled “Plato’s Animals” edited by Michael Naas, it is worth returning for a moment to our ongoing discussion of digitally enhanced research.

When I first wrote about my attempts to close the digital research circle in 2010, I had just relinquished EndNote in favor of Zotero for its superior ability to share and organize references. At the time, Zotero was still a plugin for Firefox and lacked a number of features I needed to facilitate my research – features like the digital reading, annotating and organizing pdf files. Those limitations led me to Mendeley, which I still value for collaborative annotations and research.

However, with three developments in Zotero, I have returned to it with renewed commitment. One reason for this commitment has less to do with features and more with the underlying open source philosophy of the product’s development. Zotero was developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for New Media, a leader in digital humanities scholarship and a strong advocate for open collaborative research.

Although I am committed to their values of collaboration and openness, without the functionality I need, I would not have been able to return fully to Zotero. Let me mention the three developments that have made Zotero central again to my digital scholarship.

First, no longer simply a plug-in for Firefox, Zotero is a stand alone product that works across browsers. I rely mostly on Chrome these days, and the stand alone version works beautifully with the Chrome extension.

Second, I have adopted Zotfile to facilitate the simple organization of my pdf files. Zotfile effectively turns Zotero into as powerful a pdf file organizer as Mendeley. It enables you to quickly pull references from online databases and across the web directly into your Zotero collections. (Don’t sync using Dropbox; rather use the native Zotero syncing service to avoid generating duplicates.) Zotfile also facilitates the simple renaming of all files based on the metadata in your reference collections. With Zotfile, Zotero pulls articles from library databases even more easily and efficiently than Sente, which excels in that area.

Third, and most importantly from my perspective, is the development of ZotPad, the iPad application for Zotero. Although it still lacks note taking functionality (under development), it brings all your documents from your collections to your iPad and allows you to use your preferred annotating program to edit, annotate and update the pdf files in your Zotero collections. Because it does not download all your files at once, it works much more efficiently than the Mendeley iPad app, which has languished since its early appearance. I use GoodReader for annotating, and love the ability to annotate files, return them to ZotPad and find them updated in my Zotero library when I return to a computer.

These recent developments have brought me much closer to my goal of closing the digital research circle. They have certainly made my digital research much more efficient; allowing me even to take a moment to write a post about it before returning, as now I must, to my work on wolves and dogs in Plato’s Republic.

Sente, Mendeley, Zotero: Too Many Sharp Tools

By | Digital Research, The Long Road | 14 Comments

As spring rolls into summer, it is time for another appraisal of my digital research ecosystem. For a brief history of my reflections on digital scholarly research, I invite you to take a ride on the Long Road way-back machine circa April 15, 2010, when I first wrote about the elusive quest to close the digital research circle.

Funny how, in that initial post, I thought I was “tantalizingly close” to closing what I called the digital research circle: the ability to gather, curate, annotate, synthesize and cite scholarship without paper using a seamless digital process. More than two years later, I am still close, but now what felt  tantalizing has tilted toward the torturous.

I will not here rehearse my entire research ecosystem which involves Dropbox, Evernote, Scrivener and even Word, although I invite you to read through and comment on my posts on the issue of digital research. Instead, I want to focus again on what should be the very heart of that ecosystem: the reference manager.

Thinking that I might finally close the digital research circle by taking the advice of @Targuman and @history_geek, I decided to give Sente a try. After a bit of fun with Sente, after two weeks I am back to my combined Mendeley/Zotero model. Here is why:

The great strength of Sente is its capacity to gather, which itself is a vital part of the research process. When I experienced the way Sente integrated with the Penn State Library, felt the ease by which I could pull pdf files directly from our huge collection of databases and have Sente parse them quickly according to their bibliographic information and place them at my disposal on my desktop and in a beautiful iPad app, I thought I had died and gone to research heaven. Soon I realized, however, that although it does have a rich and responsive support forum, Sente is missing what both Zotero and Mendeley offer: a robust capacity to share and collaborate with a research community.

Although I am in a humanities discipline, collaboration is becoming an increasingly important part of my academic research. (OK, that came off as a bit too as too cynical – dial the cynicism back a notch or two, but you get the point.) Here is link to a post about how I work with a research assistant to do collaborative research in philosophy – it includes an embedded Prezi as a bonus.

Despite Sente’s excellence at gathering, its limited social capacities, its outmoded ways of integrating with the word processor (using in-text citation tags and the need to initiate scans of the document – as opposed to using Applescripts), its clunky search features, and its brutal lethargy on the iPad app with certain kinds of pdf files led me back to the Mendeley/Zotero model.

In the meantime, I solved a duplicating problem I was having in Mendeley when I stopped having Mendeley sync to a folder in Dropbox and allowed it to sync to a local drive on my various machines. When it comes to organizing pdfs in a social research context, Mendeley is the best. It even allows you, for example, to embed your profile into your blog posts:

Christopher Long is a member of Philosophy on Mendeley.

Mendeley’s capacity to facilitate collaborative research led me to adopt it extensively in my graduate seminar on Aristotle’s De Anima over the spring semester. My graduate students and I shared a collection, and thus were able to refer to the shared highlights, annotations and notes of our various texts together in class. (Above is a picture of me teaching with Mendeley, referring to a document a student had annotated.) Mendeley’s capacities for collaboration enriched our collective research and our seminar discussions throughout the semester.

Mendeley falters, however, at the gathering and the citing phases. They still have not fixed an issue with html code coming into footnotes when using the Chicago Manual of Style Full Note with Bibliography style. Further, the bookmarklet they use to gather document information from the web is … weak: it does not identify bibliographic information on the website and import it directly into Mendeley as Zotero does so beautifully.

Thus, I am forced to continue to use Zotero for the gathering and the citing phases of the process. I really do like Zotero, and especially now that they have a version that stands alone outside of Firefox. But, it does not hold a candle to the pdf managing capacities of Sente or Mendeley.

If, as they say, sometimes you need many sharp tools to get a job done well, still I wish I didn’t need quite so many sharp research tools to close the digital research circle.

Summer Research in Digital

By | Digital Research, Technology, The Long Road | 2 Comments

This summer John Dolan, Director of Digital Media and Pedagogy, and I are heading up a summer digital research project in the College of the Liberal Arts.

For a description of the project, check out John’s post on our Digital Research in the Liberal Arts blog about the iPad Summer Research Project.

The iPad project is part of a larger initiative designed to put technologies in the hands of faculty to empower them to do scholarly research. What excites me most about this project specifically and the Digital Research Initiative more generally, is that it is driven by the idea that if we put technologies in the hands of faculty to pursue scholarly research, they will not only produce excellent new scholarship, but also they will learn the affordances and limitations of the technologies as they think about how to integrate them into their teaching.

By inviting faculty to use the technology for research they are already doing and asking them to reflect a bit in writing on a public blog, we hope to cultivate a community of digitally literate scholars who are doing excellent academic work.  The measure of success from my perspective as a scholar and an Associate Dean will not be the number of posts we write or the various aspects of the technologies we uncover, but the quality of the research we do, the articles and book chapters written, submitted and published, the manuscript and dissertation reviews we write, and the conference papers we submit.

With that in mind, I have posted a short reflection on using the iPad to review a manuscript without requiring a single piece of paper.

I hope you all will follow the Digital Research in the Liberal Arts blog and contribute when you are so moved.

Evolving Digital Research Ecosystem

By | Academic, Digital Research, Technology, The Long Road | 8 Comments



Final Edits

Originally uploaded by cplong11

In the months since my last posts on using Mendeley, Zotero and the iPad for academic research, my experience has been more fully informed by practice. This fall I was able to research, develop and write an essay on Plato’s Apology for a talk and seminar I will be giving in Bogata, Columbia at the Universidad de los Andes.

The practice of doing research under extreme time constraints as I taught a 400-level course on Critical Theory and served as Associate Dean brought a number of important affordances and limitations of digital research into sharper relief for me.
For those who are uninterested in the details, my general experience is that while the iPad, Mendeley and Zotero continue to evolve in the right direction, there remains as yet no simple solution that will close the research circle of which I spoke last spring. And yet, the evolution of these tools – particularly improvements to the iPad’s ability to handle pdf files stored in Dropbox and Mendeley‘s strong move toward mobile computing – has brought me closer to that vision.
For those of you who would like to hear some of the details about how I am using digital media to do academic research more efficiently and effectively, here they are:



Desktop Literacies

Originally uploaded by cplong11
First, sharing reference collections on both Mendeley and Zotero has become integral to my work. My research assistant, Sabrina Aggelton, is able to locate, identify and organize articles and books related to my work into our shared collection where the texts themselves are immediately accessible to me. This allows me to make the most effective use of the often very limited research time I have. When I do have time blocked off, I can focus immediately on the texts most relevant to my project. Because Mendeley organizes pdf files so well into files on Dropbox for me, I have used the shared collections on Mendeley rather than Zotero for this purpose.
Second, integration of pdf files with the iPad is much improved over the past few months.  Although Mendeley itself has an iPad/iPhone app, the application remains rather limited with respect to annotation, file transfer and even reading files on the iPad. I prefer to use Mendeley to organize my pdf files onto Dropbox, and then GoodReader with Dropbox integration to annotate and Evernote to take notes on the text. I often find myself reading via GoodReader on the iPad and taking notes on my laptop via Evernote.  I have even been known to use Evernote on the iPhone when reading articles on the iPad, if I am on the go. This is not an integrated solution, but I find that having all my notes accessible and searchable in Evernote works fairly well.
Third, Mendeley is unable yet to compete with Zotero in terms of its integration with Word processors for citation styles. Mendeley does not yet support footnote citations in the Chicago Manual Style (my preferred method), so I return to Zotero when writing. This means that I need to continue to make sure that references added to Mendeley are entered in Zotero.  Mendeley is able to read Zotero databases and display and organize pdf files from Zotero, but Zotero does not yet play with Mendeley in the opposite direction. Happily, it is extremely easy to add references to Zotero from the web, but still, this is an extra step when entering references. 
I would like to consolidate all my references into a single program if possible. A few months ago, I thought that program would be Mendeley, but the announcement of Zotero Everywhere makes me think that Zotero might yet win that battle. Mendeley is ahead of Zotero in iPhone/iPad development and pdf file organization, Zotero ahead in terms of citation integration with Word processing. The future of Zotero depends upon its development of a stand alone desktop app and integration into web browsers beyond Firefox. It will also need to develop a software solution for mobile devices. I am not sure, however, that it sees itself as a pdf organizing program, so in this regard Mendeley may have the advantage.
As I reflect upon the state of my digital research ecosystem, I am encouraged by the increasing ease by which scholarship can be accessed and organized online. Not only do I have access to a huge number of digital resources through Penn State’s excellent library, I also use Google Books and Amazon.com to access and gather references from hundreds of thousands of books. Happily, as I move further into my own administrative work, the resources that facilitate the academic research that remains of central importance to me continue to improve. They have, however, yet to mature to their full potential. 

Mendeley on the iPhone

By | Digital Research, Education, Technology, The Long Road | 10 Comments



Mendeley on the iPhone

Originally uploaded by cplong11

I am happy to report that Mendeley has developed an iPhone app that brings us a step closer to the digital research model I hope to implement in the months to come.

Before I mention a few of the limitations of the application, I want to celebrate its very appearance. This is a huge step forward in mobile bibliographic and reference computing.

About three years ago, I had a phone conversation with a person in the sales department at Thomson Reuters, the company that makes Endnote. The purpose of my call was to see if they were developing a version of Endnote for the recently released iPhone. They told me that they did have plans, once Apple released the Software Development Kit, to develop a mobile version of Endnote. Already at that point, I could see the value of having my references so easily accessible.

Although that application has yet to materialize, I shifted, in the meantime, to Zotero because it facilitated the sort of collaborative research I hoped to put into practice with my students. As I mentioned in my previous posts on digital research more generally and on the way I use of Zotero in particular, a significant limitation to all the bibliographic software was the inability to use anything other than the web browser to interface with my reference libraries when using my iPhone and iPad.

I turned to Mendeley in the hope that I would find an application that would have all the collaborative functionality I required even as it allowed me to organize, read and annotate pdf files in a way that would integrate with my word processing software. I am very happy with Mendeley when I am sitting in front of a desktop computer. However, it is critical to the model of digital research I am trying to establish that all my references be accessible to me on all my devices wherever I am.

This is where the new iPhone application, even if it is tantalizingly labeled ‘Lite’, adds substantive value to my research workflow. The application syncs with my Mendeley libraries beautifully and allows me to read any of the pdf files I have posted to it. In the photo on the right, you can see the collections exactly as they appear in the Mendeley Desktop application and on the web.

If you have pdf files included in those collections, you can access them via the mobile device, assuming you are connected to the internet, by downloading them individually. This allows you to effectively carry your entire reference library in your pocket, putting thousands of pages of scholarship at your fingertips wherever you are.
For all of this, however, the application’s features remain rudimentary. You cannot annotate pdf files via the application nor can you edit any of the tags or bibliographic information associated with the references. The first iteration of the application is clearly designed to establish Mendeley in the mobile space – a place it basically has all to itself at the moment. But is also gives us a taste of possibilities to come.



PDF via Mendeley on the iPhone

Originally uploaded by cplong11
As for some of those possibilities, I would hope that this is the first stage in a series of upgrades on the road to a single integrated iPhone/iPad application. 
Porting such an application to the iPad has enormous potential for scholarship. If it allows for annotation, we will have a powerful new research tool on which to actively read texts related to our scholarly work. Building on solid web and desktop applications, Mendeley for the iPhone and iPad would offer us an integrated way to do serious productive research wherever we find ourselves. This will allow us to move more quickly from the research gathering to the productive writing phase of the process.
In the end, I am very happy to see the first iteration of this mobile reference resource. I look forward to the updates and to the “Pro” version, if indeed, that is the direction toward which the label “Lite” is gesturing. 
Despite some reticence at first, the appearance of the iPhone app tips the balance for me and I am now moving all of my references over the Mendeley in anticipation of upgrades to come.

Integrating Mendeley into the Research Circle

By | Academic, Digital Research, Technology, The Long Road | 12 Comments

It seems that my quest to close the digital research circle has been joined by a few fellow researchers. The idea is compelling and would not only save both time and paper, but would offer new opportunities for collaborative research.  

In my post, Closing the Digital Research Circle, I outlined the basic structure by which we could download PDF files into a reference management system that would handle bibliographic data and manage the PDF files themselves.

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