The Future of Scholarly Publishing from an Individual Perspective

I’ve been thinking about the future of scholarly publishing rather intensely for the past year or so. Before then, I was simply an individual scholar pursuing my own career, trying to make the best of not only a changing landscape (in terms of what remains print and what goes digital) but also a bewildering interdisciplinary landscape — a humanist who studies material culture that isn’t conventionally artwork has to search a lot of niches.

I got more involved in the future of scholarly publishing, which is a phrase I’m going to stick with for the time being, when I was asked to sit on the Publications Committee of the American Folklore Society. My participation in that group led to the development of a plan for a new website (set to “go live” on May 1) of which I now find myself editor. Since then I have become my university’s liaison to [Project Bamboo][pb], a [Mellon Foundation][mf] initiative to develop a digital infrastructure for humanities research.

So I’ve spent a fair amount of thinking about scholarly publishing from an institutional perspective, but now I want to re-turn the tables and think again from an individual perspective. My thinking really began with a simple forecast — and one I should be sure to emphasize that is only my own and does not in any way reflect the American Folklore Society or my own position as editor of the new site: that the *Journal of American Folklore* will one day simply be absorbed into the larger communications platform that the Society maintains.

How did I arrive at that forecast? I imagined the publication/communication landscape of the future from the point of view of an individual scholar. From the point of the view of the individual practitioner — we’ll leave groups for another time — there are three obvious places where one’s work should be featured:

* A personal site
* An employer’s site
* A professional organization’s site

Or, to concretize things a bit. There are three places an interested reader should be able to go to find my work:

* [*my personal site* ]( (``)

* [*my university faculty page* ]( (``), which should have a human-readable address like this:


* Or [*my member page of my professional organization* ]( (`http://americanfolkloresociety/members/johnlaudun`) — that link is only to the current AFS website, which doesn’t have anything like what I’m writing about here.

Publishing, or cross-linking, to those three pages should be a central part of my work-flow as a scholar. Two of those three allow for *green* sources and the third for *gold*.


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