PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference 2011

The Public Knowledge Project is organizing the bi-annual Third International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference, September 26 – 28, 2011, in Berlin, in collaboration  with the Freie Universität Berlin. This particular PKP conference provides opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the decade-old Open Access Initiative, launched in December 2001. We are pleased to be included in the program of this conference and will be presenting a paper outlining and reflecting on the SURF-supported e-Humanities Group Enhanced Publications Project. Below is the abstract of our paper; the preliminary PKP conference program is available here.

Enhancing Scholarly Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences: Innovation through Hybrid Forms of Publication

(Project Members: Nick Jankowski, Andrea Scharnhorst, Clifford Tatum, and Zuotian Tatum)

Enhancing scholarly publication involves presentation in a Web environment with interlinking of the ‘objects’ of a document such as: data on which the publication is based, supplementary materials, and post-publication reactions and secondary analyses. In addition to providing easy – and preferably open – access to scientific and scholarly output, motivations for pursuing such enhancements include the benefits associated with large repositories. Development of the Semantic Web is specifically aimed at facilitating long-term content structure through standardized meta data formats intended to improve interoperability between concepts and terms within and across knowledge domains. Meanwhile, ad-hoc scholarly discourse, facilitated by participatory dynamics of Web 2.0 applications, contributes to an emergent content structure through compliance with existing open Web standards. While the top-down Semantic Web and bottom-up intertextuality structure are not inherently incompatible, their differences have implications for the design, use, and diffusion of enhanced scholarly publications. In this paper we illustrate a hybrid approach that employs Semantic Web techniques while focusing on emergent practices entailed in contemporary intertextual discourses.

The project involves enhancement of scholarly publications through preparation of complementary Web sites accompanying four books released by traditional academic publishers. These Web sites contain a broad range of features intended to enhance the printed versions of these books, including supplementary resources, visualization, hyperlinks, and updating of chapter materials. In addition, the project involves development of a database that allows for aggregation of content across the individual book Web sites, such that relationships, underpinnings, and contextual factors are made explicit. Together with a user interface, this database and related features are designed to support ad-hoc queries and real-time visualizations of discursive threads on the Web sites.

Web sites are presently being developed for the following four books:

  • Jankowski, N. W. (ed.) (2009). e-Research: Transformation in Scholarly Practice. New York: Routledge. 
  • Wouters, P., Beaulieu, A., Scharnhorst, A., & Wyatt, S. (eds.) (forthcoming). Virtual Knowledge (under review by MIT Press). 
  • Jankowski, N. W. (forthcoming, 2012). Digital Media: Concepts & Issues, Research & Resources. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Park, D., Jankowski, N. W., & Jones (eds.) (forthcoming, May 2011). The Long History of New Media: Technology, Historiography, and Newness Contextualized. New York: Peter Lang.

A standard template for the Web sites has been prepared and adapted to the first of the above four titles; see e-Research book site. At the time of preparation of this abstract, the template is being adapted to the other titles. In addition, an overarching database of book objects is under construction and will be elaborated in the paper. While Semantic Web formats are intended to facilitate interoperability between situated ontologies, the focus of this project is on engagement with emerging scholarly practices in a discursive environment where meaning is both situated and fluid. Relevant to this focus, we develop custom plugins to incorporate Semantic Web formats for WordPress, an open source Web 2.0 platform. The paper concludes with reflection on the development of Web sites for these traditional academic publications and the suitability of such integration of Web and print environments for scholarly communication more generally.