The MLA’s Profession 2004 features four essays on the ‘crisis in publishing’ by Judith Ryan, Philip Lewis, Jennifer Crewe, and Domna C. Stanton. All of the essays converge on a number of key points:
- Tenure requirements need rethinking. Somehow.
i think this isn’t the place for intervention. the place for intervention is the production of ph.d.’s, the use of ph.d. students as a labor force and parallel to that the adjunctification of the humanities. The overproduction of ph.d.’s will keep the requirements for tenure high. the growing research competition will also likely increase the requirement on the humanities and humanities departments. why would you tenure a humanities person with only one book? when your standards in engineering are one patent or more…? it is a losing game of increasing expectations.
Missing from this discussion, as far as I could tell, were the $20,000 questions: why publish? To what end? Would the quality of academic scholarship go up if we expected books later in a career, instead of sooner? If scholarship is a conversation, with whom are we conversing? And to whom are we speaking? To what extent do ‘hot topics’ have an academic audience? How can we determine what scholarship has lasting merit, when it’s often the case that we won’t be able to tell for years (or decades?)? Who determines what constitutes ‘quality’? How well does peer review succeed in its aims? And, to bring in rational choice for a moment, will academic publishers who expect us to buy their books ever start pricing books cheaply enough for us to buy them–without foregoing that month’s gas bill, that is? Merely adjusting the numbers required for tenure–numbers of books, numbers of articles–leaves the core issues untouched.
(Via The Little Professor.)
we publish to compete. as for cost, the costs for publishers will skyrocket because everything is pushing them that way.