Yesterday I attended a Learning Communities meeting focused on the rise of online journals and what they mean for digital scholarship. The meeting raised many interesting issues surrounding the scholarly record. One of the most important issues discussed was the idea of open access publishing. Previously I had very little knowledge of the idea of open access. I decided to do a bit of research. The idea behind open access publication is to give everyone equal access to scholarly work. Open access is a reaction to the increase in price of subscriptions to academic journals. If an author writes an article and wishes it to be open access, they must either deposit it into a digital repository or publish it with an open access journal. The first option is known as “green” open access and the second “gold.” Digital repositories can be associated with an academic institution (institutional repositories) or can be independent of an institution.
Another exciting concept discussed at the meeting was the use of digital object identifiers (DOIs). DOIs are kind of like ISBN numbers with tons of metadata attached to them. DOIs can be imbedded into online publications to make it incredibly easy to jump from an article to its cited material. They are an exciting new way of organizing information online and provide one extremely concrete benefit of online journals.
One important piece of the discussion surrounding digital publications is the very nature of the publications themselves. Are online journals to serve merely as web-based content, in essence simply putting the print journal into a new, online format? Or is it the role of online journals to transform traditional methods of scholarship, creating new formats for displaying research? With digital humanities projects, this question is particularly poignant. Most DH projects are not suitable for showcase in print or even online journals, as most DH research extends beyond the journal article (indeed, that is, some would argue, the point of DH work). However, DH projects still deserve to be highlighted and included in the discourse of scholarship. How can digital publications serve DH projects? One idea is the project gallery, an online collection of DH projects, such as we have created on our blog. However, this gallery serves only to present projects and really does not offer the opportunity for peer review or scholarly discussions.
As DH progressives, there are many new questions to answer about how scholarship will be preserved and presented. There are lots of new and excited things to think about, as well as some large challenges to tackle.