Post Academic

Academic publishing goes online–and mainstream?

So on the heels of finding the HuffPo College photo gallery/poll about academic publishers comes a well-circulated and oft-blogged-about story in the Monday’s New York Times about an online, open peer-review process experiment undertaken by Shakespeare Quarterly published by the Folger Shakespeare Library.  To give credit where credit’s due, the Chronicle actually reported on what Shakespeare Quarterly (SQ) is doing last month, but you know it’s really big new when The Gray Lady reports on it.  On the whole, we’ve been pushing for innovation in academic publishing on this blog, so this is a welcome development that bears observation.

"Folger Shakespeare Library" by AgnosticPreachersKid (Creative Commons license)

Here’s how the open, online peer reviewing apparently worked: Contributors to a special issue of SQ were given a choice to have their submissions assessed according to a standard blind review or have them posted online at MediaCommons and commented upon by a group of invited experts and “self-selected” readers who register to the site.  From what I can gather, it looks like the online reviewers basically post comments on the submitted essays like you would add comment bubbles on MS-Word track changes.  Guest editor Katherine Rowe of Bryn Mawr calculates that 41 reviewers–invited and party-crashers–posted 350 comments for the four article and three book reviews in the issue.  Any commenter had to be registered, putting her/his good name and reputation behind the criticisms and/or suggestions.

More on the open peer review process below the fold…