Friday, July 14, 2006

Digital Rice University

Many of you will have seen the announcement that Rice University is re-launching their Academic Press as an entirely digital publishing operation. One thing they might think about is removing the announcement that they shut it down back in 1996. The recent pr announcement is here. This is an ambitious and in some ways courageous effort. As their Provost points out, very few Academic Press make money and most loose a lot. Often their only function often seems to be the aggrandizement of certain academics. Assuming Rice is able to fulfill their goal of truly looking for new models of scholarship and publication this could become a model for other presses to follow. Certainly some are already going in the e-book direction but what Rice hints at in their announcement is an acknowledgement that academic publishing has been constrained by the physical print product. What is on offer is the capacity to engage the author, other scholars (peers) and students in an active relationship facilitated by the content produced. As Rice University and others experiment we will see less publish and hope than publish and republish and republish (or revise) but probably without the long term publication delays which are common in academic journal publishing. The resulting published products will become interactive with link resolvers interlacing all the supporting content and perhaps data sets supporting the conclusions thereby allowing others to recreate the results. The social aspect will enable feedback on relevancy and ranking. Cool stuff - they better get to work on it.

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