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It should be noted that not all scholars see the movement towards greater interdisciplinarity in publications asa negative. Many find it exciting. But where does it leave younger scholars in the field?

Where are the subventions?

Publication costs in art history are rising and it isn't clear whether subventions are keeping up. Some pressesmaintain established relationships with subvention providers, while others are concerned that subventions are more difficult to obtainthan they used to be. Meanwhile, the burden of identifying funding sources and obtaining subventions falls largely upon the shouldersof authors, a burden that weighs especially heavily upon scholars seeking to publish their first book. How might this burden berelieved?

Is the peer review process working?

Some of the more senior scholars with whom we spoke expressed the concern that peer reviews are sometimesignored, resulting in the publication of manuscripts of questionable merit. Since reviews take time for which reviewers arenot well-compensated, what is the incentive to do a review if it may not have an impact on the process of manuscript revision andpublication?

How should art historians advise ph.d. students?

This is related to the point about "specialization versus breadth of appeal." Here's the dilemma: Thepurpose of a dissertation is to advance knowledge in one's field, which requires specialization. To achieve tenure in one's field,one must publish at least one and possibly two books. Publications "count" more towards tenure if they are published by prestigiouspresses. All things being equal, prestigious presses would prefer to publish books that will have broad appeal. So, what should arthistorians tell their advisees about choosing a subject for and approaching the writing of their dissertation? Or, as one of theyounger scholars put it, "If both scholarship and reaching a wider audience are deemed important, does that mean I have to publish ontwo different tracks at once?"

Tenure criteria and library purchasing policies are at odds.

Even as tenure at many institutions still depends upon the publication of single-author monographs, one ofthe most important drivers of scholarly book sales, namely libraries at institutions of higher education, is drying up due tobudget pressures. In short, the demand for scholarly monographs has dramatically decreased, while the pressure on scholars to publishmonographs has not changed.

Alternative outlets for publication may better suit some types of scholarship.

Some scholars argue that the focus on producing single-author monographs (in order to achieve tenure orsecure a promotion) may be counterproductive for the advancement of a field. In some subfields, for example, the exhibition cataloguemay be the dominant form of publication. In archaeology, the field moves forward not just through the publication of scholarlymonographs, but through fieldwork, curating shows, and creating databases. In newer subfields, journal articles may be the onlyviable venue for disseminating scholarship.

There is also the question of how to "publish" dissertation research, a question that grows more pressing astraditional publishing opportunities seem to be narrowing. How might digital publishing play a role in the disseminationof dissertation research?

And what additional opportunities might digital publishing open up for the field? Are hybrid publications(with both print and digital components) a sensible option for some types of scholarship? Is the field looking for ways to takeadvantage of new opportunities presented by the digital publishing option, such as searchability, interactivity, and hypertextcapabilities?

How is scholarship being evaluated?

Because "art history is different," the evaluation of scholarship in art history is arguably morecomplicated than it is in other disciplines. Art historians not only publish books and articles, they also curate shows, writecatalogue essays and do fieldwork. If those activities are done well, many would contend that they contribute substantially toadvancing scholarship in the field.

Art history is also a field with many subdivisions. The audiences for specialized scholarship in somesubfields are, arguably, not large enough to warrant "cranking up the machine." One scholar said, "I would like to see universitiesbe more reasonable about what they expect from scholars who choose to work in areas that perhaps might not be able to support thepublication of a book. I wrote a book, but I'm coming to find out that my book is actually a bunch of articles in terms of theinterest that exists in the area I've spent my career working in. Many of us have a small sphere of interest. So, we need toreconsider how to evaluate scholarship in terms of how well it has been done, regardless of who publishes it."

Summit meeting of authors, publishers, and the mellon foundation

Recognizing that the issues affecting scholarly publishers and art historians are flip sides of the samecoin, a summit meeting of scholars and commissioning editors was designed as the final element of the research project. To forge aproductive strategy for dealing with the issues that affect both art history scholars and publishers, the summit meeting wasconceived as a way of systematically sharing and discussing the preliminary research findings, and defining and prioritizing thesteps that need to be taken next to deal effectively with these issues.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, The state of scholarly publishing in the history of art and architecture. OpenStax CNX. Sep 22, 2006 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10377/1.2
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