20.404 much to do: MLA's report on evaluating online scholarship

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard_at_mccarty.me.uk>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 07:02:13 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 404.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 06:47:05 +0000
         From: "Jennifer A. De Beer" <jenniferdebeer_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: MLA flunks humanities in recognizing online scholarship]

Jon Ippolito wrote:
>Recommendation number 4 of 20 in the Modern Language Association's
>December 2006 report on promotion and tenure proposes that:
>"Departments and institutions should recognize the legitimacy of
>scholarship produced in new media, whether by individuals or in
>collaboration, and create procedures for evaluating these forms of
>scholarship." http://www.mla.org/tenure_promotion
>While it may sound warm and cuddly to us new media jocks, this
>recommendation comes as a response to a disheartening study on the
>absence of such recognition in American humanities departments today:
>"The task force was dismayed by a widespread lack of experience in
>evaluating digital scholarship. More than 40 percent of departments
>at Ph.D.-granting institutions said, in response to the survey, that
>they did not know how to gauge the merit of refereed electronic
>articles, while 65.7 percent reported that they had no experience
>judging monographs in that format."
>How can 40% of America's smartest brains in the humanities "not know
>how to gauge" refereed journals in electronic form? If the process of
>refereeing is comparable to print, I can only assume the answer is
>fear of the unfamiliar: the lack of brand-name recognition for
>upstart journals, and a lack of experience with new scholarly
>tools--like, uh, a Web browser.
>Interestingly, the MLA prodded reviewers to get used to such tools in
>promotion & tenure guidelines released as early as 2000:
>"Review Work in the Medium in Which It Was Produced. Since scholarly
>work is sometimes designed for presentation in a specific medium,
>evaluative bodies should review faculty members' work in the medium
>in which it was produced. For example, Web-based projects should be
>viewed online, not in printed form."
>I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the study documented even
>lower acceptance rates for online scholarship that doesn't look like
>refereed journals. Nevertheless, the 2006 MLA report counters that:
>"in evaluating scholarship for tenure and promotion, committees and
>administrators must take responsibility for becoming fully aware both
>of the mechanisms of oversight and assessment that already govern the
>production of a great deal of digital scholarship and of the
>well-established role of new media in humanities research. It is of
>course convenient when electronic scholarly editing and writing are
>clearly analogous to their print counterparts. But when new media
>make new forms of scholarship possible, those forms can be assessed
>with the same rigor used to judge scholarly quality in print media.
>We must have the flexibility to ensure that as new sources and
>instruments for knowing develop, the meaning of scholarship can
>expand and remain relevant to our changing times."
>Sounds like it's time for humanities departments to offer a crash
>course in Slashdot karma ;)
>______________________________ What do pigs' wings, alien planets,
>and computer viruses have in common? They're all At the Edge of Art.
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Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
Received on Tue Jan 23 2007 - 02:21:39 EST

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