Embargoing digital dissertations: A round-up of the discussion so far
25 July 2013 – Rebecca Shrum
The American Historical Association created a great deal of discussion this week with a statement that “strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years.”
Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic wrote an excellent summary of the issues raised by the AHA’s statement.
Several bloggers weighed in with recommendations of what the AHA’s position should be in ways that are of particular interest to public historians. Trevor Owens imagines a conversation in which historians “refocus their energy on how they can produce historical work that people will read and can have an impact on society.” Timothy Burke argues that if the expectation for hiring and tenure is a scholar’s ability “to reach wider audiences and larger markets through publication” then institutions need to have “a far wider and more imaginative vision of what constitutes engagement and accessibility than simply the physical publication of a manuscript.
Jennifer Guiliano provided a counterexample to the AHA’s concerns and described her success negotiating a book contract with an open-access dissertation (now embargoed for 3 years by her publisher).
The AHA responded with an FAQ to respond to the discussion.
You can also follow the discussion on Twitter at #ahagate.
More blog posts in response to the AHA’s statement are:
- “Embargoes for Dissertations?” – Scott Jaschik on Inside HigherEd
- “American Historical Association Statement on PhD Dissertations: an Initial Point-by-Point Response” and “Personal Property and Academic Work: A Reflection on Responses to the AHA Dissertation Policy” – Jason M. Kelly
- “ETDs, publishing & policy based on fear” – Kevin Smith on Scholarly Communications at Duke
- “The American Shrugshouldercal Association” – Stephen Ramsay
- “Students should be empowered, not bullied into open access” – Adam Crymble on Thoughts on Public & Digital History
- “The AHA Asks ‘What About the Children?’” – Barbara Fister on Inside Higher Ed
- “A Poorly Reasoned Suicide Note” – Sean Takats on The Quintessence of Ham
~ Rebecca Shrum is Assistant Professor of History and Assistant Director of Public History at IUPUI, on Twitter @material_world