16.263 styles of publication

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Oct 10 2002 - 05:28:45 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 263.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 10:13:33 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: styles of publication - minor aside

    No perfect time to delurk, I guess, after such a long silence...

    Willard writes,

    >(I hear that scanning pens
    >have improved greatly, that students who regularly work in the Bodleian,
    >for example, use them to avoid the high cost of photocopying there; I may
    >follow their example soon.)

    Last summer saw an attempt - and failure - on my part to do just this,
    precisely in the Bodleian. They have a very strict no-scanning
    policy. Reference librarians told me that I could write an appeal to one
    of the directors of the library, but would have to get special permission
    every time I wanted to scan something. This would have taken weeks, which
    I did not have, and the librarians did their utmost to discourage me from
    pursuing this. It was only vaguely possible to get such permission,
    because I would have wanted to scan in an entire book of over 300 pages,
    out of copyright, that doesn't exist in any other WorldCat-linked
    library. They certainly do not allow scanning as a way of note-taking.

    As for publication styles, the most significant change I see as having been
    brought in specifically by the electronic medium is ease of
    communication. Theses are formulated, thoroughly developed, contested and
    defended via lists such as this one, newsgroups and billboards (do people
    even use those anymore?). Posts get lengthy, and are often archived -- for
    all practical (communication-with-live-readers) purposes, published. It
    seems not enough to hear/read conference and journal papers: they often
    reference and are born out of list discussions. Information often
    approaching in weight that found in short papers is disseminated habitually
    in electronic space.

    I wonder if "precise-scientists" - physicists, for example - discuss issues
    at the same length in these venues. It seems that discussion lists etc.
    are more suited to speculative discussion than to, say, discussion of
    ongoing empirical experiments. From everything I've heard, you do not
    publicize your experiments in any way until you have specific results to
    share, and to claim. From this would follow that published papers, short
    and long, would play a more integral communicative part in physics etc.
    than they do in the humanities, now that we have other means of (more
    immediate) communication with our live readers. But, really, I know very
    little about how things work in the sciences, so please forgive me if these
    impressions are off the mark.

    -Vika Zafrin <vika@wordsend.org>

    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Computing in the
    Humanities, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS U.K. | +44 (0)20
    7848-2784 (fax -2980) | willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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