I might as well start my MLA panel-blogging with a report on my own session. It was titled "Digital Scholarly Publishing: Beyond the Crisis," and the other presenters were David Blakesley and Kristine Blair. Mary Hocks was also scheduled to present, but unfortunately she couldn't make it.
After Kris introduced us, I did my presentation. If you read my planning post, then you didn't miss anything. Still, I've attached my slides in .ppt format and in .sxi format for OpenOffice. I'd publish the whole thing here, but I generally don't present from scripts, and at the time I didn't think to open up Audacity and record the talk. Oh well. One point I think I made more clearly in the Q&A after my talk than in my post is that the MLA, CCCC, and several individual universities all have statements with guidelines for reviewing work with technology in the hiring, tenure, and promotion process. In every case, these documents support the scholars who work with technology and generally favor the legitimacy, or legitimation, of electronic publishing. Why, then, is it still so risky to do this work?
Dave talked about his work with The Writing Instructor, a print journal that has made the transition to electronic publishing. He had a handout, which I've copied in its entirety:
The Writing Instructor
Publishing since 1981 and now in its THIRD WAVE, TWI will feature...
- Interactive and distributed peer review
Peer review is conducted Slashdot style, with scholarly review teams and multi-tiered response and feedback
- Born digital projects and printed archives
Fostering hypertext and multimedia projects authored for the Web, TWI also remembers its heritage with print archives
- Print-ready and distributable, with stable URLs, ready for dossiers and classrooms
TWI articles can be made into elegant off-prints on the fly, by any user
- Creative Commons licensing for easy dissemination
New articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license
- Open source and open access via Drupal and the DrupalJournal Project
Taking open access to the next level, with no author subventions or fees, using open source content management; interested journals and editors may collaboratively develop a DrupalJournal release, customized for most journal functions
- Community driven and authored content
Wiki-style functionality, with version tracking, facilitates distributed editorial management and production
- Integrated blogging and commenting, with RSS feeds, news aggregator, and daily notifications
Content stays fresh and is distributed across the Web, inviting readers back and reaching out to new ones
- Automated feeds to indexing services like ERIC
Simplifies the process of submitting content to major indexing services, like ERIC
- Web-based management of all editorial processes
All editorial management, including author notifications, review tracking, and production are Web-based and accessible
This handout represents the bulk of his talk, but he also discussed some of the problems with electronic publication. What really caught my interest was his explanation of the prejudice that e-journals aren't peer reviewed at all or aren't referreed as rigorously as print journals. You might have noticed that most electronic journals have on their main page a link to a "Review Process" page which gives a detailed explanation of their peer review process (e.g. this one from Into the Blogosphere -- though, it should be said, ITB is an edited collection, not a journal. Everyone gets confused about that. It's a one-time thing -- an anthology.), intended for tenure files. Do assistant professors who are up for tenure have to give this kind of apologia for print publications? Anyway, Dave emphasized the importance of publishing not only a description of the review process, but also the acceptance rate. I agree.
Dave also talked about a new distribution of Drupal called DrupalJournal, which would offer features that would be desirable for journal editors. In the Q&A, John Holbo asked with great interest when DrupalJournal would be available. It must be a very new idea, because I combed the Drupal main page and didn't see any mention of it, though if you're curious to see what's in the works for Drupal in the coming year (or could be in the works), check out Dries' predictions and the ones at Drupal.org.
Finally, Dave mentioned the efforts of the people who run the WAC Clearinghouse. It's a great resource which all of you should look through if you get a chance. Parlor Press, which Dave runs, releases books online (whole books!) at the WAC Clearinghouse site.
Kris was the respondent, and she had a lot to say about multimodal literacy and how our publication models aren't connected well with our students' literate practices. She also spoke about her experience as the editor of Computers and Composition Online, mentioning that multimodal scholarly compositions still have some problems. Some of them, she said, are much flash, little substance, or much substance, little flash in the way of engagement with the media. Achieving a balance is still a problem.
After the presentation, there were some great questions posed by Amardeep, Scott, and others. Maybe they'll reiterate those here. Or maybe I will, a little later. Overall, I think the session went well.