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Alternatives to Monographs

As you know, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to publish monographs. Academic and university presses find themselves under financial pressures, and libraries’ budgets are also being scaled back. In addition, there is the question of who is actually reading the long monographs we publish. Are there alternative forms for getting our research into the public eye? An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education from last October under the title of “Ditch the Monograph” explores the question of shorter-form, electronic publishing (in length somewhere between a scholarly article and the traditional monograph). If you’re interested in the topic, please take a look at http://chronicle.com/article/Ditch-the-Monograph/135108/. I’d be interested in hearing from you and getting a discussion started.

  • By Kathleen Adams on 3.30.2013 at 11:34 am

    We were just discussing this idea at our Association for Asian Studies Press Board Meeting last week. We have a non-electronic short book form series of titles (Gender in Asia; Pop Culture in Japan, etc) and have found that they sell well for classroom adoption, so the press is interested in developing more titles. A number of academic presses seem to be going in similar directions, for similar reasons — these are money-makers for presses. Some presses are even promising a three month long submission to publication period for these shorter monographs, though as we learned this means that the monograph only gets one external review (something that made all of us on our AAS editorial board uncomfortable).

    As the Chronicle article notes, in disciplines like cultural anthropology and history, monographs are the product of years of archival and field research–and it would certainly be nice to shave a few years off the book-to-publication timetable (especially for pre-tenure people–although they are usually publishing revised versions of their dissertation as the first pre-tenure book). Yet how would tenure and promotion committees evaluate these sorts of publications in comparison to traditional book length monographs? Or in terms of “research intensive” points?

    The authors who contribute to our AAS short form monograph series seem to be mainly senior authors and it seems likely that this is because universities have not yet worked out a way to evaluate these shorter form books for tenure and promotion. I’d love to hear more about the evaluation angle from our dean and others.

  • By Colby Dickinson on 4.1.2013 at 11:34 am

    I have published in open source journals, and really favor these trends in academic publishing in general. I know that many major publishers have recently begun to prefer short, introductory volumes on subjects rather than larger monographs, thus affecting what academics will end up spending their time on in terms of publishing output. My questions at present mainly concern what publication forums (amongst the many now springing up) will be encouraged for tenure/promotion and which will be discouraged. I sense an increasing need to distinguish from the various types of publications possible, but these are not be discussed as such in my department, for example. Thanks for the link to the good article …