Publish and perish

Over the last year and a half, I have given a lot of papers. Taken as a whole, they show how my thoughts on such topics as data architecture, network visualization, digital edition, intellectual history and history of literature evolved and structured. I initially thought I would pack them together by bunches of two or three, thematically related, re-shape them and submit them to journals. One of my two attempts to do so was rewarded by a “you will surely find a good online publication platform to publish this, it does not really fit here”. And so the papers stayed in my drawer…

For my last paper, I decided to proceed differently. I had to write out the argumentative part since the workshop was being live-translated and I had to hand out my text to the translators. Once the text and the presentation were ready, I mixed them, abridged the illustrative part and submitted the paper to hal-shs, where it was accepted for publication in the category “conference paper” the next day (you can find it here – it is in French). This allowed me to tweet the link to the paper during the conference, put the link on my slides and add it to my website when I got back home. As chance would have it, it turned out that Carolin Hahn published today the notes she had given me for the second half of the illustrative part, so that you can consult her presentation here, then Emmanuelle Chaze did the same with the first half, which is to be found here. On the first day that my paper was online, one person had downloaded it. After 2 days, they were 15. Three days later, it’s 21 persons who have downloaded the paper while 91 consulted the metadata.

Let me sum up the balance here. On the one hand, I need to write a second book on something I have never published on before, this is my priority in order to be authorized to claim a permanent position (not that I would be sure to get one in any way, but you can’t blame a girl for trying). But I still am the specialist of what I have been doing for the past 15 years and occasionally give papers on that, in which I am (thankfully) not compelled to repeat myself all the time, but can actually present new results. They stay in the drawer after the presentation because I don’t have the time to reshape them for a journal (which would  anyway take 3 years to publish something that will have lost half of its accuracy in one to two years) – I don’t have time for that because I have to write a book on something new.

It would certainly do good to my publication list to have some more journal papers in it. But when I saw that 1) people are actually reading my papers when they are online and 2) writing that book on something completely different still has to be my priority, it  convinced me definitely to give up on any paywall-related publication form for all the yet unpublished papers I have given over the last months/years. I will download them all on this blog or on hal-shs before the end of the month so that I can consider them available for quoting, re-using and, well, contributing to scholarly debates, and switch to something completely different. This means that I will have to reinvent and reinvest this blog with something different too, but I am not overly worried about that.

The deal, in brief, is to be either read by people or considered by Academia: whatever the publication strategy you choose, chances are it will be deadly for one part of the deal or the other.


Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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1 Response

  1. 20/05/2015

    […] Conversation”  (HNet-Executive-Council-Blog,  April 30, 2015) oder auch Anne Baillot “Publish and Perish” (15/03/2015). […]

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