Category Archives: Publishing

Moving to has a few too many restrictions – I’ve moved all my posts over to a Jekyll platform at


Open-Access Humanities Publishing

A recent graduate of our department is exploring digital dissemination of the core discovery in his dissertation. The thought process that led him to this discovery is uniquely well-suited to a digital visualization (a hobby-horse of mine) hosted on a personal website. He is torn, however, between the imperative to market his own work and the fear of “cheapening” his scholarship through digital publication, as well as the not-totally-unjustified fear of theft.

Newly-minted humanities Ph.Ds in the paranoiac job market may be right to fear resistance or disbelief of more retardataire senior scholars. But I’d argue a good number of those same scholars can be convinced of the available grant opportunities, not to mention the wide open research possibilities in digital art history, and the benefits of open-access distribution of scholarly work.

Ross Mounce recently posted a cogent argument for uploading preprints of scholarship before they are accepted for publishing, arguing that overcoming this cultural and psychological barrier results in your work being read and cited more. (hat tip: Digital Humanities Now) Ross notes:

I suspect, like in biology, this practice isn’t yet mainstream in the Arts & Humanities – perhaps just a matter of time before this cultural shift occurs… There is one important caveat to mention with respect to posting preprints – a small minority of conservative, traditional journals will not accept articles that have been posted online prior to submission.

Hercules Segers, Three Books, 1615-1630 - Rijksmuseum,, Amsterdam, Bruikleen van de Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten (RP-P-H-OB-867)

Some very old school scholarship: Hercules Segers, Three Books, 1615-1630 – Rijksmuseum,, Amsterdam, Bruikleen van de Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten (RP-P-H-OB-867)

According to according to the SHERPA/ROMEo survey, the Art Bulletin doesn’t formally support the archiving of pre- or post-print PDFs of articles. But a better entry point for digital scholarship may be nascent open-access, online-only, peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of the Historians of Netherlandish Art. I am curious if open-access humanities journals will, in these early days, trend towards specialized fields of study staked out by already-established scholarly societies, as these societies can bring their ready-made social network of peer-reviewers. The JHNA’s online platform is incredibly basic, but its articles have been a solid mix of both new and established scholars (in other words, they seem to have broken out of the vicious cycle of prestige-chasing). Their organizational commitment having already been made, I look forward to seeing the journal jump some more technical barriers next, such as adopting some good born-digital scholarship tools like Comment Press.

Scholars can also just circumvent this whole process and directly post their work online, critics be damned. If you are interested in getting your work in front of eyeballs, Abram Fox notes the online audience for one of his papers quickly exceeded the in-person audience at its national conference presentation.

In the same vein, I’ve just uploaded three of my projects on here: a more traditional scholarly paper on Emanuel de Witte, and two digital humanities projects on mapping an artist’s diary, and getting Google Earth to recognize pre-eighteenth-century dates.

THATCamp Prime 2013, day 1

A panel excerpted from Sharon Birch's gleeful comic book of THATCamp Prime 2013

A panel excerpted from Sharon Birch’s gleeful comic book of THATCamp Prime 2013 (made using Comic Life)

Some bullet points from my personal experience of THATCamp Prime 2013 day one follow. Others’ mileage may vary:

  • Even an “un-confernece” has to pay its dues by opening with lengthy speeches praising influential and instrumental individuals, but the introductory session was also peppered with some delightful “dork shorts” – not ill-advised clothing, but lighting presentations of projects. I vote for the woman who busted out two wicked erudite limericks while doing a coffee-induced jig.
  • Though I must also give a close second to Jen Serventi who showcased the NEH’s searchable database of successfully funded DH projects. In case you were wondering, there are virtually no art history DH grants out there…
  • My session on visualizing uncertainty got accepted, and it was standing/floor-sitting room only! Thanks to everyone who participated (and thanks especially to the individuals who took the lion’s share of notes on the Participad attached to our page.)
    • I loved how quick our group was to engage both sides of the visualization coin: the challenge of categorizing, quantifying, and structuring your humanities data; and the difficulty of defining visualization solution(s) that make it usefully accessible.
    • On the definition of dates, I was really excited to be introduced to Bruce Robertson’s Historical Event Markup Language
    • We also started to lay out the tough choices one must make that will restrict what your visualization offers, but which will allow you to actually create it.
    • The notes have lots of links, but two other interesting examples I hadn’t yet explored are Stanford’s Spatial History Project Gallery and Richmond’s “Visualizing Emancipation”.
  • During lunch, I met up with two instructional technologists from my brother’s Gettysburg College (and James, you should know that they are died-in-the-wool Shots in the Dark fans). One of them, Sharon Birch, made this brilliant comic of the first day!
  • After lunch I poked in to Jeffrey McClurken’s workshop on teaching digital history (he provided a great list of links encapsulating most of the subject)
  • I soon switched to a panel on new horizons in humanities publishing, in which I heard for the first time a debate over whether Twitter should count as a scholarly production. I am glad that this notion was strongly rebuffed.
  • At this point I started pining for other art historians, as I often find myself doing in these kinds of multi-disciplinary events. Luckily I found at least one.
  • I had to check out a bit early to get back to DC for other engagements, but now I’m just ready to get as much sleep as possible before trucking all the way back out to Fairfax for more tomorrow. Stay tuned.

(edit) Leftover links I forgot from yesterday:

  • Debates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) can now be read on a slick online site that allows for collaborative annotation and indexing. Even better, its plaform is available on GitHub
  • Digital Humanities Now, a weekly showcase of DH news, projects, and job postings.
  • An Omkea-based contract repository, an effort to open up the notoriously opaque genre that is publisher contracts.