Monday, November 5, 2007

Theological Publishing & Scholarly Publishing

A new report from ACRL, Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement, is calling for further research on eight different aspects of the current system of scholarly communication. I was intrigued by the following paragraph from section 4, Authorship and Scholarly Publishing:

"When faculty employ and create new forms and techniques, evaluating their work against traditional measures is a particular challenge. Although studies document the conservatism and constraining influence of scholarly promotion and tenure review processes and reward systems, we do not yet have deep insight into how they can evolve to recognize and embrace new forms of scholarship. The problem is acute for the creators of digital scholarship, which rarely enters the formal publishing stream, yet is a creative, scholarly act that can influence and underpin both present and future research. But authorship of these programs is not yet rewarded as a form of scholarly communication of the first order in most disciplines."

My suspicion is that theological publishing is not at the bleeding edge of this process of "creating new forms and techniques", but it certainly is getting there. In faculty committees at our seminary we have already been discussing how to evaluate such contributions as faculty blogging. As a librarian, I am particularly interested in the issue of preserving such new forms of faculty publication. Does anyone out there have a system yet for preserving faculty blogs? Can theological librarians have a voice in influencing the nature of copyright contracts for theological publications? I am glad to see ACRL calling for comment and research in areas such as these, and I hope that theological librarians can be part of the library community that responds to this call.

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