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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Case study of OA humanities journal

Michael Papio, Reflections on Heliotropia and the Future of E-journal Publishing in the Humanities, StoricaMente, May 15, 2008. (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)
With the help of a small group of scholars dedicated to the open-access dissemination of research on Boccaccio and fourteenth-century Italy, I launched an online journal called Heliotropia at Brown University during the summer of 2003. Though none of us at that time had any thoroughgoing experience with e-journal publishing, each of us had already spent nearly a decade exploring the possibilities inherent in the marriage of hypermedia technologies and the study of Boccaccio. Fortunate to have profited from the assistance of the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown and from an unusually enthusiastic reception on the part of students and teachers in the United States and elsewhere, we were guided by the hypothesis that a free-access e-journal of Boccaccio Studies would be not only an extremely useful resource in a general sense but also a significant boon to the community of Boccaccio scholars at large. What we admittedly did not anticipate was the speed at which Heliotropia would begin to fulfill its goals. In 2004, it was accepted as the official publication of the American Boccaccio Association and in the period since its inception has experienced a fivefold increase in accesses. This success has been as unexpected as it is gratifying. While data on e-journal publishing have been collected by a number of studies over the years, remarkably little critical attention has been given by Italianists to the possibilities inherent in e-publishing. The purpose of the present essay is, in short, to introduce some of the chief concerns related to e-publishing to humanistic scholars who, however well informed they may be in their own fields, have yet to face the often bewildering challenges presented by new media. ...