Reading “Words Onscreen”
Posted on September 27, 2016 by Colleen Skidmore
Naomi S. Baron – a linguistics professor at American University in Washington, DC – challenges the conjecture, anecdote, and ageism that typically short-circuit the debate on the comparative advantages and effects of print versus digital reading. More...
This Wild Spirit Redux
Posted on August 3, 2016 by Colleen Skidmore
It has been ten years since the University of Alberta Press published This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.Readers’ responses to the book and the support of bookstores in and near the Rockies that have stocked it continuously and displayed it prominently over the years have been gratifying. More…
Gender Disparity and Scholarly Publishing
Posted on July 19, 2016 by Colleen Skidmore
It was 1994 when I first met Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour, now Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Associate Dean for Diversity in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta. A newly-arrived assistant professor, I was attending for the first time a meeting of the Academic Women’s Association, an advocacy group of and for women professors that had been founded in the mid-1970s with the purpose of addressing the disparity of opportunity and advancement for women academics. More…
Photography and The Fine Art of Publishing
Posted on January 28, 2016 by Colleen Skidmore
In December 2015, forty specialists in photography and its history in Canada gathered for a workshop at the National Gallery of Canada. Our purpose was to study a simple idea but a vast ambition: how to collaborate on the development of a written and exhibited history of Canadian photography. More…
“It’s Not Scary…” – University Press Week 2015
Posted on December 4, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
It was Friday the 13th, and a fine way to wrap up University Press Week in Canada and the United States with a Google Hangout for scholars with a book to write: “the art of getting published by a scholarly press.” Aspiring authors took advantage of the rare opportunity to garner astute advice from five well-placed insiders at prominent university presses: Oxford, Columbia, Chicago, and Massachusetts. More…
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
BookSlam! at Congress 2015 in Ottawa took place in the cool editorial space of the political news site iPolitics – located in the Byward Market, just beyond the shadow of Parliament Hill. iPolitics welcomed ten Canadian university presses to pitch their books and present their authors to a gathering of new and legacy media journalists. More…
How to write, publish, and market a national bestseller
Posted on July 14, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
“Why is Clearing the Plains a national bestseller?”
McMaster University food historian Ian Mosby asked this question about a seemingly ordinary Canadian history book at Congress 2015.
It is a timely question as a minor skirmish on the crisis, or not, in non-fiction publishing erupted earlier this summer in The Guardian and the CEO of Penguin Random House Canada declared,“I’m not interested in a book that is going to generate less than $100,000 in revenue unless the editor or publisher has a compelling vision for the book and/or the author.” More…
Dynamic regeneration in scholarly publishing
Posted on June 22, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
At the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada, scholars introduce, debate, and drive new research about human thought, activity, and behaviour. One of the most impressive projects launched publicly at the 2015 meeting in Ottawa in early June is a prototype of a new “dynamic” form of digital book that has been developed by the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) under the research leadership of Susan Brown of the University of Alberta and University of Guelph.
The project brings together strands of multiple dimensions of humanities scholarship: research on women’s writing in Canada, and on ways of writing, publishing, and reading in a digital environment. More…
“The Future Now” at Canada’s libraries and archives
Posted on May 1, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
“Libraries and archives are Canada’s collective public memory. They represent a cherished repository of how, and why, we have become the Canada and Canadians we are today.”
So begins the preface to “The Future Now: Canada’s Libraries, Archives, and Public Memory”, the 2014 report of the Expert Panel of the Royal Society of Canada on the status and future of Canada’s libraries and archives. More…
Journal Publishing and the 2015 Tri-Agency Open Access Policy
Posted on April 1, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
- Open Access is not cheap
- The sky is not falling
- Authors should not have to pay to publish
- Open access is not knowledge democracy
These were the key messages at a recent, refreshingly open-minded panel discussion at the University of Alberta on the advantages and challenges of open access in the wake of the Tri-Agency’s recently announced Open Access Policy. More…
The Power of the Reader
Posted on March 11, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
At the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2015, French historian Roger Chartier urged writers to think differently about how they craft their texts, to take advantage of new ways of reading that have become possible and popular with digital texts. Recently, Norah Young of CBC Radio’s “Spark” wondered if we may be losing our ability to read a book from beginning to end, and to follow and comprehend a complex argument. More…
University Presses & the Problem of the Status Quo
Posted on February 5, 2015 by Colleen Skidmore
Four Canadian universities appear in the top 100 for arts and humanities in the Thompson Reuters 2014-15 World University Rankings. They are University of Toronto (15), McGill University (26), University of British Columbia (40), and York University (97). The top three of the four have university presses. The fifth ranked Canadian university, the University of Alberta (124), also has a press. Of the 13 performance indicators used to determine ranking, citations/research influence is worth 30 percent of the score. Why then are university presses being threatened with closure? More…
Open Access, Monographs, and University Presses
Posted on December 10, 2014 by Colleen Skidmore
Open Access (OA) is an immensely simple concept: complete texts of the results of peer-reviewed research, accompanied by supporting materials such as data and images, should be available on-line immediately upon publication and at no cost to readers. More…
Roger Chartier on Academic Publishing
Posted on November 26, 2014 by Colleen Skidmore
At the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair, Roger Chartier, the eminent French historian of Western written culture, engaged academic book publishers from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and the Americas with his scholarly view on the history and current state of academic publishing. Presses representing Canada included U Ottawa, UBC, McGill-Queen’s, Wilfred Laurier, and the University of Alberta Press. More…
Welcome to the UAP Scholar-in-Residence Blog
Posted on November 12, 2014 by Colleen Skidmore
Welcome! You have landed on the inaugural UAP Scholar-in-Residence Blog. Here you will find new or nuanced issues and ideas to consider in current debates bubbling in academic publishing. But first, some background to this blog.
In early 2014, a brand new and exciting opportunity came my way to establish the first Scholar-in-Residence position at a university press. At the time, the scope of the endeavour was open for development; however, expectations for its potential were considerable. The Director of the University of Alberta Press, Linda Cameron, and the Vice-Provost (Learning Services) and Chief Librarian, Gerald Beasley, to whom UAP reports, saw value in welcoming to the Press an academic with experience in both publication and administration at UAlberta. In recent years, the UAP has experienced an exceptional period of success and recognition through numerous awards bestowed by international, national, and provincial agencies for the quality of its books, including content, design, and editing. In 2013, the Press also expanded with acquisition of the CCI Press imprint, which made it Canada’s largest publisher of northern and circumpolar titles. The Scholar-in-Residence is expected to assist in building in new ways on the momentum of UAP’s success.
At the same time, UAP shares the challenge facing all not-for-profit university-based academic publishers in Canada: the search for a sustainable financial model in a new era of open access and fair dealing. Traditionally, the work of academic presses to translate researchers’ short and book-length manuscripts into journals and monographs has been funded through various sources: annual grants from national cultural agencies such as the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences Awards to Scholarly Publications Program (ASPP) and the Canada Council for the Arts Book Publishing Support Block Grants, disciplinary association membership fees, institutional allocations, granting councils’ publication subventions to researchers, and sales to readers. This model has been disrupted over the past decade by both a new expectation for open and free access for readers – a philosophy that academic publishers support and advocate – and changing acquisitions practices by academic libraries around the world. Dramatically diminishing sales and a shift from a reader-pay to an author-pay system in academic publishing have yet to be balanced by new revenue sources for authors (especially independent researchers and writers whose income is derived primarily through publication), and publishers whose staff, whether permanent or contract, create books and journals from the raw material of a manuscript.
Like most sectors and industries in Canada, including post-secondary education and the music industry, scholarly book publishing is evolving in innovative, creative, and disruptive ways. The book, from the codex to the ebook, has proven to be a flexible and adaptive medium over the centuries. Alongside new forms of knowledge dissemination, such as blogs, long-form study and argument remain essential to knowledge creation across scholarly disciplines. New technologies are making it possible for academic authors and publishers to imagine and adapt the book yet again in exciting ways. It is also the role of the Scholar-in-Residence to share and increase knowledge of changes that are being imagined or taking place.
In 2014, top of mind issues among Canadian academic publishers are open access to and timely distribution of research findings and educational resources, the evolving roles and structures of research libraries in dissemination and publication, expectations for new technologies in publication processes from editing to distribution, the impact of the adoption of Canada’s 2012 amended copyright legislation and fair dealing exceptions, financial sustainability, and future forms and formats for scholarly monographs.
These are among the issues and topics that my posts to this blog will explore. Its purpose is to share what I am hearing, learning, and thinking with university-based and independent researcher-authors, students with an interest in publishing either as emerging researchers or publishing professionals, university administrators, and academic press acquisitions editors and directors. The opinions expressed are my own scholarly views. I look forward to hearing yours. Please contact me by email at Colleen.Skidmore@ualberta.ca or through this blog.