Quality – it’s what we want to publish

Over the summer, IU Bloomington’s Provost, Lauren Robel, announced the creation of the Office of Scholarly Publishing.  The OSP includes the IU Press and IUScholarWorks among other endeavors and is sure to grow.  Since the announcement I have been invited to be a part of many discussions about the OSP’s strategic plan, exploring how the IU Press and IUScholarWorks could coalesce around something new.  Yes, this is very exciting.

This is the first post in which I’ll stress a few points from these converstaions.  I will continue to share as we explore our Press-Library partnership.

At my first meeting, I threw out the question: What is it we want to do together?  And IU Press Director, Janet Rabinowitch threw back a one word answer:  Quality!  We want to continue to publish quality.  Yes!  This was the sort of response we all appreciated.  It’s also something IUScholarWorks has grappled with through innumerable conversations only to fall short of how we can ensure that IUScholarWorks is publishing quality scholarship.

I know it’s not easy to accomplish and that my view here is simplistic, but the Press has a system in place to ensure quality scholarship.  They vet each publication that come to them before they consider publishing it.  Their expert staff is good at judging whether a publication adds value to the field.  If they do publish it, they not only have a team of in-house editors who work to ensure quality, but the Press is also plugged into a/peer reviewing system which sends manuscripts out for review.  How the Press operates in these circles for their monographs and journals may be different, particularly for journals for which the journal editors may play a key role in sending manuscripts out for review.

What do the vetting and credentialing systems look like for IUScholarWorks?  We essentially do not vet publications for quality when they approach of for support.  This is not a particular problem for our journals because the editors of the journals have the primary responsibility for providing reviewing systems for their publications.  But for most every other type of publication that asks for our support, we are simply un-involved.  In most cases, this does not present problems for authors as they too are unconcerned about our involvement.  Rather they are confident that their scholarship has been created in a system by which their peers have been involved at various levels and at significant points along the way.  But for some, particularly in the humanities, they look to us to help them find a way to credential their works so that their originial publicaitons may be published in our open access systems.  More often than we sometimes care to admit, we have to tell them we aren’t able to support this part of the publishing process, yet.

Much work, though, is on the horizon and we intend to take advantage of credentially systems based on crowd concepts.  Commons in a Box and PressForward come to mind as does Open Monograph Press.