Do not fear open access. Embrace it! | Johns Hopkins University Press Blog
"In the recent controversy over the American Historical Association’s statement on open access dissertations, I found myself reliving an old argument about how scholars do research and share their work. The advent of both the internet and the social media tools that facilitate scholarly communication online have left our rather traditional professional associations scrambling to figure out how to respond to the vast changes in how we work and how we publish. The historian in me, of course, looks for past examples of how technology has changed the way we work—often for the better. And in the controversy over open access, I remembered the blog hysteria of 2005. In 2003, I started a blog. It was a crazy hodgepodge of a blog; I wrote about politics, cats, and my dissertation. Initially, I was pseudonymous, but later I accidentally outed myself to the world, with no consequences except that other scholars with suggestions about my dissertation could email me directly instead of leaving a comment. I liked blogging about my dissertation. I worked out awkward problems, shared documents, and tried out interpretations on an appreciative and engaged audience. You might imagine my surprise, though, when in 2005 I went on the academic job market and suddenly everyone thought my blog was a huge liability. That summer, an academic going by the pseudonym 'Ivan Tribble' wrote a column in the Chronicle of Higher Education warning of doom to all job seekers who chose to also blog. Tribble indicted blogs for not being peer-reviewed and therefore also illegitimate as forms of disseminating scholarly knowledge. The response to Tribble’s (rather inane) column in higher education hiring circles was pretty dire. I went to a forum for job candidates that fall during which the facilitator begged us to delete everything about ourselves from the internet and to never, ever post pictures of our cats. In other words, the anecdotal experience of one person who could not even share his name with the world suddenly became concrete evidence that within the blogging world, the sky was falling. The rumor spread: blogging damaged one’s chances at an academic job. One might call this the blog hysteria of the mid-00s. (I responded to Tribble’s nonsense here). The blog panic passed. I first got one job, and then another, and now blogs are so commonplace as to be passé. In fact, many graduate students now blog, and blogs might even be assets on the job market. I haven’t heard similar complaints about Twitter or Facebook. Academia seems to have gotten used to the idea of social media as a medium for scholarly exchange. What was initially unfamiliar has become standard, and perhaps even expected. The recent kerfuffle over the American Historical Association’s statement on open access dissertations reminded me of this episode in 2005. Underlying the AHA’s statement is a hysteria similar to that generated by Tribble’s column ..."