Problems of Scholarly Publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Problems of Scholarly Publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Problems of Scholarly Publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Problems of Scholarly Publication in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Excerpt

The publication of the results of scholarly research is an integral part of the process by which learning is advanced. A scholar has not only the desire but the responsibility to submit the results of his inquiries to the judgment of his peers and to as wide an interested audience as possible. All universities and colleges take pride in the publications of their faculty members, and in many of them publication is a major criterion for promotion and tenure. This attitude is so general that among scholars one frequently hears of complaints about policies of "publish or perish" or, more mildly, the "pressure to publish."

The American Council of Learned Societies, which administers a number of programs directed toward the support of scholarly research, felt that there was a need for a thorough study of the publication problems which confront the scholar. Rather than investigate the "pressure to publish," however, the Council judged that it would be more useful, and more amenable to objective inquiry, to determine whether or not scholarly works face difficulties which are extrinsic to their scholarly merit, in attaining publication in journals or books. Even before the study was begun we assumed that the economics of publishing nowadays make commercial publication unprofitable for most scholarly manuscripts. We also assumed that the present publication media for scholarship depend heavily on subsidies, both direct and indirect, from universities, foundations, and scholars. Both of these assumptions were borne out by our study. Our questions were directed at finding how large a problem remained despite the considerable support from all sources which makes possible the publication of about 725 books and a much larger number of articles a year in the humanities and social sciences.

There are scholars who feel that publication is the main prob-

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