linguistics publication and other fields
donald.killian at HELSINKI.FI
Wed Mar 31 14:01:57 UTC 2010
I'd like to bring up something else regarding journal articles. I had
emailed the linguist list last year with a critique on availability of
resources; particularly for younger linguists, at times it can be
extremely difficult to get ahold of an article. There were some really
positive responses and some very enlightening ones, particularly from
Martin Haspelmath, who was able to explain to me the reason for the
restrictions. There are fewer technical limitations these days, but
social limitations are still strong, resting on the culture of gaining
prestige. Now that we have more modern technology and it's becoming
easier to exchange information from a physical point of view, I'd like
to bring up the proposal to also become more aware of ethical choices
regarding journals and publications.
As an example, I was looking to get one article from the Journal of
African Languages and Linguistics by Traill and Vossen, "Sound change in
the Khoisan languages". As the University of Helsinki did not have
electronic access, I considered simply buying the article.
Unfortunately, it was only available through de Gruyter's electronic
(http://www.reference-global.com/doi/abs/10.1515/jall.19184.108.40.206 ), at
a cost of 40 dollars to view the article online for 24 hours. This was
unfortunately more than I was able or willing to pay.
It's not to say that some articles and some information is not already
available. Working Papers in Phonetics, for instance, is kind enough to
put all of its journals online. Many other linguists have links to pdf
copies of drafts on their websites, and when I posted my discussion
question, many people responded with some already existing resources
such as the CHILDES database.
But as typologists, we generally need access to large amounts of
descriptive material in order to conduct proper research. If a
publisher has very restricted copyright policies and raises prices to a
point past where researchers can pay, then we are forced to either
conduct inferior research, find new topics, or gain access in some other
way. This type of restriction also makes it certain that people in
developing countries will simply never have access to proper
publications, and continues to perpetuate a lack of scholars from many
parts of the world.
I'd like to bring up an idea that was proposed earlier on open access
The current situation regarding open access publication is unfortunately
somewhat grim, as it carries little in the way of prestige or scholarly
value, and few linguists focus on open access publications. But if
senior colleagues capable of conferring prestige pick either open-access
publications or publications which are disseminated in a reasonable
fashion, then it can raise the prestige of such publications.
Furthermore, it takes away some of the problems of page limitations if
we publish electronically. While I'm skeptical of self-publishing
unedited material, I don't think electronic journals need to be
unscholarly, either. With careful planning, open access publications
can have just as high quality as currently restricted material, and
hopefully some day carry just as much prestige.
But until that day, I would encourage us all to understand the policies
regarding copyright and dissemination of a publisher before submitting
articles to a particular journal, and for journal editors to consider
which publishers they'd like to associate themselves with.
I look forward to hearing your opinions.
On 03/31/2010 12:32 AM, Östen Dahl wrote:
> Here's one point that I wonder if anyone has mentioned. If we began to only
> publish in journals, we might need a lot more journals. If, for instance, all the
> papers and posters at the last ALT meeting (over a hundred) were to be published
> as normal-length papers in Linguistic Typology, that would fill the journal for
> about ten years.
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