[Humanist] 23.641 The CSHE/Mellon report

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Feb 18 14:40:47 CET 2010

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 641.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

[1]   From:    John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>                             (15)
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.637 new report: the future of
scholarly communication

[2]   From:    Diane Harley <dianeh at berkeley.edu>                       (105)
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.639 CSHE/Mellon report on scholarly

Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 07:14:47 -0600
From: John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.637 new report: the future of scholarly communication

On 2010-02-13, at 24:20 , Humanist Discussion Group wrote:

> The final report brings together the responses of 160 interviewees across 45,
> mostly elite, research institutions in seven selected academic fields

Sigh. It's the mercenary nature of these documents that I find so sad. By focusing on elite institutions, they maneuver to make their reports into "bench marking" documents that will receive widespread attention and application, especially by administrators and faculty members in institutions further down the food chain of the academy. The irony, of course, is that they survey the master masons of the cathedral about their use the very set of technologies that are all about the bazaar happening in the town square. The conversations at the Project Bamboo workshops proved on a regular basis that a fair amount of innovation does indeed happen on the margins.

Will I read this document in full? Yes. Will I use it for quotable quotes to help digital humanities efforts at my little hybrid university on the margins of the academy as established by this very document? Yes. I will do so in in the same mercenary fashion that the authors of these survey appear to have created this document. In so doing, the reigning order will largely been confirmed.



John Laudun
Department of English
University of Louisiana – Lafayette
Lafayette, LA 70504-4691
laudun at louisiana.edu

Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 09:25:34 -0800
From: Diane Harley <dianeh at berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.639 CSHE/Mellon report on scholarly communication

 Dear Mr. Raben,

Thank you for your preliminary comments. As you will see when you actually
read the full report, and explore our website, we found an immense amount of
professed flexibility in the tenure and promotion system. (And you will also
find that we explored English language literature in the planning phase of
the project. That case study, with four others, was published in 2006.
http://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/ publications.php?id=23  )

We could not include every discipline in the latest study. We spent a
significant amount of time narrowing down our choices via lay of the land
interviews.  Among the criteria was what we considered to be interesting
trajectories for in-progress communication and for integration of media and
data sets.  As you will discover when you read it, music in fact is a
fascinating case for many reasons, not least of which is that its
institutional organization is so diverse and the subfields it embraces offer
multiple epistemologies (that reflect on publishing and advancement
practices).  I am sure French literature, or geosciences, or psychology, or
physics, or theater or...would have yielded their own surprises and
orthodoxies. But research resources are always finite.

Literature was rejected because (1) we had already gotten a bead on it in
the planning phase, (2) it's problems with overproduction of Ph.D.'s and
monographs that Presses can't/won't sell are legend, and (3) the MLA (which
we cite extensively) appeared to have begun public soul searching about some
of these issues.

As to our N's, the methods speak for themselves.  You may not like the
results, but as an anthropologist I can say with some conviction that we
report the news, we don't make it.  The report is deeply peer reviewed. As
part of IRB requirements and anonymization, each interviewee was invited to
review quotes and our conclusions at least once. We received a lot of great
feedback from quite distinguished scholars, many of whom are "innovators." 
We also spent considerable time testing hunches in each interview, and we
vetted final conclusions with our advisory, with each other (I am blessed
with a great team.), and many, many generous and whip-smart colleagues over
the last years. 

Are our conclusions right? Wrong?  It represents a snapshot in time of
particular cultures in a rapidly changing world. By virtue of publishing so
many quotes, those who want to challenge the conclusions can dive in and try
to come up with more or less parsimonious interpretations themselves.  We
are very open to embracing other interpretations as long as they are based
on good evidence, not anecdote and hype.  Would different results emerge for
other disciplines, professional schools, and/or HE institutional sectors
domestically or abroad?  It's testable (and we have constant feelers out to
gauge the answers to those questions, maybe even do follow-up research). We
do expect similar work might come to different conclusions in some period of
time (2? 5? 10 years?).  We hope that we have set a reliable and scholarly
baseline for any comparative work.


Diane Harley, Ph.D.
Director, Higher Education in the Digital Age Project
Center for Studies in Higher Education, 771 Evans Hall, # 4650
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
voice:  510/642-4343; fax: 510/643-6845

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