A Digital Solution to Academic Publishing? Introducing Anvil Academic

Academic publishing is broken. University presses are underfunded, and are facing great difficulty surviving as the cost of producing monographs grows more and more unprofitable. Yet these monographs are often the gold standard for promotion and tenure especially within humanities fields. But, academic presses argue, the work of evaluation for tenure and promotion should not be their responsibility. At the same time, libraries chant that their shrinking budgets cannot accommodate the rising costs of peer-reviewed journals that live behind exorbitant paywalls. Where does the solution lie?

Enter Anvil Academic, an open-access digital publisher for new-form digital scholarship that has been jointly set up by NITLE (the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education) and CLIR (the Council for Library and Information Resources) (Full disclosure: I serve on Anvil’s editorial board). Anvil has been in development for the last few years, and hopes to become an exemplary publisher of scholarship that does not fit into any analog—or digitized version of analog—template.

Fred Moody (@moodyfred), the head editor of Anvil Academic, tells ProfHacker that the central mission of Anvil is to publish forms of the “post-monograph.” Korey Jackson (@koreybjackson), Anvil’s Program Coordinator and Analyst, adds: “What we mean is not ‘beyond long-form argument’ or ‘anti-narrative.’ ‘Post-monograph’ is about form (and especially the number of forms) rather than content. We want to move beyond ‘mono’ and begin exploring what the ‘multi-graph’—composite texts using various interactive media—would look like as viable and recognized scholarship.” Anvil will be focusing on four genres of digital publication: data-driven arguments, multimodal scholarship, networked authorship, and educational projects.

Anvil will debut its new website in early October, when it plans to announce an open call for proposals from the scholarly community. It hopes to issue its first publications in the spring/summer of 2013. The press has an ambitious and innovative peer review process in play, and wants to explore publishing partnerships with libraries, colleges and universities, presses and scholarly societies.

Stay tuned for more information on Anvil and its exciting new mission, as I interview Fred Moody (@moodyfred) next Tuesday as part of the ProfHacker series on Digital Challenges to Academic Publishing. The series has featured interviews with Stanford Highwire Press, NYU Press, MIT Press and the Penn State University Press.

Image from Heidi Schempp Fournier on Flickr.

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