Publication Date

December 2, 2014

The Innovation in Digital Publishing in the Humanitiessession at the American Historical Association’s 2015 annual meetingin New York is co-presented by the Wellcome Trustand the New York Academy of Medicine’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health.

By now it’s axiomatic that the digital world poses new opportunities and challenges for researchers, libraries, educational institutions, and publishers, which must be engaged with digital formats in a sustained and thoughtful way. The realities of this landscape encompass challenges to traditional models of publication and new expectations around access to both historic collections and new research literature. Open Access (OA) publishing and archiving is a central one of these challenges.

Why is OA such a critical concern for libraries, researchers, and publishers? (And why should you as a writer, or reader, care?) Issues of access to information have, ironically, been exacerbated by the growth of digital journals and electronic resources. Access to new research, whether in the sciences or humanities, is often prohibitively expensive for individuals and institutions, while authors struggle to make their work accessible to the broadest possible readership. Jill Cirasella at CUNY has produced an excellent summary of what’s at stake in discussions of OA.

The Wellcome Trust has been at the forefront in supporting open access to the research it funds in biomedical science and medical humanities, from its support of the open-access eLife journal to ensuring that all research funded by the trust is made freely available to users. As such, the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) is delighted to be working with the trust to coordinate the Innovation in Digital Publishing in the Humanities panel at the AHA annual meeting.

The Panel

Our panel will examine OA from a number of perspectives. However, the potentials (and associated challenges) of digital publishing go beyond OA to broader opportunities for readers, publishers, and writers in the digital world, whether relating to new ways of presenting archival material online, new ways of doing and sharing research, or new ways to engage larger audiences, and we will explore some of these as well.

The panel will be chaired by Stephen Robertson, professor and director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, whose Digital Harlem project has won multiple awards for innovation in digital history. Prof. Robertson will be joined by Cecy Marden (Wellcome Trust), Lisa Norberg (Barnard College Library), Martin Eve (University of Lincoln and Open Library of Humanities), Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Modern Language Association), and Matthew K. Gold (New York City College of Technology and City University of New York, Graduate Center).

The Blog Series

We’ve asked our speakers to start the conversation early by each writing a post on the NYAM blog identifying the biggest challenge or opportunity they feel digital publishing poses to the scholarly community. The panel will then use these opening statements as starting points for discussion. Please feel free to pose questions to the participants individually or as a group by making comments on the posts; the speakers will respond on the blog and take your thoughts into consideration during the panel discussion.

This week, the blog features two perspectives on Open Access and its implications, from Cecy Marden and Lisa Norberg. Later posts will include commentaries from each of the panelists. Visit NYAM’s Innovation in Digital Publishing section to read them all as they go live.

For those coming to the New York meeting in January 2015, we hope to see you there!

, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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