How I Spent My Afternoon

I don’t know where the morning went — this and that, some fire department communications — but then I started assembling the next issue of The Pomegranate, and immediately encountered the Lithuanian typography issue.

As in, some of the special characters, such as e-with-a-dot-over-it, are not in our normal font, Book Antiqua.

But ah, Book Antiqua is derived from Palatino (my favorite default font), and my installation of Palatino has all those characters.

So it’s point-and-select-and-change fonts for about half an hour until every special Lithuanian character in the article is changed to Palatino, which is slightly narrower but has about the same x-height as Book Antiqua.

And, oh yes, the bibliography has to be checked and uploaded to the Equinox website for some indexing purposes and also sent to the guy in England who does the Digital Object Identifiers.

At which time it is beer-thirty.

This is after all the original editing, the selecting and working with peer reviewers, the interaction with the two authors, and the re-editing.

And there are people who complain about the cost of academic journals and who think that everything should be free.

Well, you naïve whiners and whingers, who is going to do what I have been doing for no pay whatsoever? I’m nowhere near finished. There will be more hours of work in Adobe InDesign and on the web before the issue is ready for the printer — who also expects to be paid, and not in rainbows and unicorns.

You, impoverished graduate student, haven’t you learned how to do interlibrary loan yet? Get a librarian to show you how, or go the university’s library website.

And if you do not have a university affiliation are you not aware that many public libraries have inter-library loan librarians? Or that you can walk into most state university libraries, make nice, and get a “patron” card that includes various borrowing services?

You only have to pay retail for downloaded articles from academic publishers if you need them right now.

7 thoughts on “How I Spent My Afternoon

  1. Folia Primatologica was my favorite & most often utilized journal during my undergraduate career. It pained me that the journal’s lofty price was utterly beyond my reach because I so badly wanted copies of my own to hold, smell, mangle & pass out on at the end of a day of research. However, it never crossed my mind that it should be “free.” After all, is *was* free, at the University library where I fondled & fell asleep on it in the stacks.

    Perhaps I never had that sense of entitlement because I was raised by someone who regularly published in academic journals. Or, perhaps this is a generational thing — a post-napster-esque ethic. Or, maybe we should blame all those hard-working paupers at Wikimedia & their free stuff.

    I personally find it befuddling, but I’ve been seeing the same theme playing out in the area of art in our local Pagan community. Some of our local artists are beginning to resent what seems to be the assumption that they will/should always produce works for the community for free. Where does this come from?

  2. harmonyfb

    Interlibrary loans at public libraries don’t work for things published in the last calendar year (at least in my area), fyi.

    Plus, many small town libraries don’t offer that service anymore, because of the cost (the library where I work stopped their ILL service for over a year because of budget issues, and only recently began offering it again.)

    1. A university interlibrary loan specialist I know says that the process is so automated now that it is quite easy, at least at her institution. Very little actual searching involved.

      1. Robert Mathiesen

        What you say is too simple by far.

        First, only some people can gain access to a university library with all its benefits. Distance can be a great obstacle, as can money.

        And second, even if you live near such a library and can afford a patron card, if you happen not to be a member of the “university community” (that is, if you do not show up on a personnel roster somewhere), even the highest level patron card you can buy often does not give you access to most on-line journals, or allow you to use the library’s ILL system. The publishers often insist on such a restriction as a condition of allowing a university to subscribe to the on-line editions of their journals.

        A certain number of my distinguished, but impoverished fellow scholars in Medieval Studies happen to have retired without having gained “emeritus” status. (Most of them are women, and they retired at the level of associate professor or below.) Therefore they are not now carried on their former university’s rosters of personnel, and they cannot now access even the on-line journals in which they once published their own important articles.

        And third, the last time I checked, our own local library’s ILL system couldn’t gain access to nearly as many libraries as my university’s ILL can. In particular it couldn’t gain access to any of the high(= R1)-level university libraries that my university’s ILL system could access, and these are the libraries that have the most significant on-line resources and holdings of obscure journals.

        So it’s really not at all as simple as you have said here. Because of these complexities, I feel considerable sympathy for some of the people whom you seem to have called “naïve whiners and whingers.” Your tar-brush is too broad for the facts of ghe case at hand.

        I don’t mean to challenge what you say about the hard economic facts of publication and the enormous amount of editorial work that underlies every academic journal. If you would not do that sort of work without pay, that’s your right and none of my business. It may, for all I know, be the norm in the social sciences to be paid for one’s editorial work. However, you should be aware that it is not the norm in the humanities, at least not in those parts of the humanities with which I am most familiar.

  3. Robert:

    To take your comment from the bottom, I would consider The Pomegranate to be in the category of humanities (religious studies). But we have published in e.g., sociology of religion and anthropology of religion, so if you want to call it social scientific too, you could.

    Previously, I received a modest stipend as editor, and someone else did the typesetting and layout — for a fee. Currently I am doing both. I also serve as production editor for The Bulletin for the Study of Religion. Again, someone has to get it ready for the printer — and no one is going to do all that editing and layout for free. Someone else does the Web stuff, and that person needs to be paid as well.

    Brown may make a distinction between who gets what ILL service. Colorado State University does not. You will notice that I specified “state university libraries,” because their remit usually includes serving all residents, not just students and staff. Or at least that is what the librarians tell me.

    When I had a book to research and was not in academia, I called on the director of the library at Colorado College, an independent liberal arts college with a decent library (and 60 miles from my then-home), told him what I was working on, and walked away with a library card. My promise was that they got a free copy of everything I published. I was not a member of its “community” as normally defined.

    Of course, anyone can come in and read the journals for free — I did that for years.

    I’m sorry for your colleagues that Brown chooses to place such restrictions on its retirees.

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