Spencer, Andrew J spena at ESSEX.AC.UK
Thu Apr 4 16:37:58 UTC 2013

We're not the only profession that is concerned about these issues, of course.

As it happens the UK science journal Nature has just had a special feature on just this topic:

Vol 495 Issue no. 7442, 28 March 2013.

Many of the questions discussed there are of relevance to grammar publishing and linguistics publishing more generally.

Andrew Spencer

From: Discussion List for ALT [LINGTYP at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG] on behalf of Larry M. HYMAN [hyman at BERKELEY.EDU]
Sent: 04 April 2013 17:17
Subject: Re: Publishing

Am I the only person who in 40 years in academia cannot think of a single case where someone's tenure, promotion, advancement was jeopardized because of choosing an unknown or undemanding publisher for one's grammar (vs. not publishing enough or at all)? Look at all of the expensive, often poorly reproduced grammars (and other things) by Publisher Y (no names please!), which seems not to review manuscripts at all. In my experience in the US it is the department that makes the case, and they do this by what they know (or think they know) about the quality of the person being reviewed. Add to this the possibility of referring to published reviews, which admittedly often take time (or don't materialize--or can even be explained away if not positive). (I admit that I have never been at a university with an adverse dean or higher administration.)

I think that if I went to publisher X, it would mostly be out of vanity: The grammars look great and you are in good company! There are, however, many other options, including series that are dedicated to specific areas or language families. I however do not mean to justify the high prices of grammars--and many other linguistics books in general.

On Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 7:53 AM, William Croft <wcroft at<mailto:wcroft at>> wrote:
But the problem is, a good-quality but open-access or inexpensive publication does not have the quality of peer review, the track record of quality publication, and the marketing presence that Publisher X has, so it is not surprising that a tenure committee takes such a publication less seriously even if the author chose that publication outlet precisely to make her/his grammar accessible to a wider audience, including the language's speakers. I don't think the protestations of professional societies would change that. For this reason, Publisher X has no reason to reduce its prices; it doesn't have to.

Bill Croft

On Apr 4, 2013, at 12:20 AM, Johanna NICHOLS <johanna at BERKELEY.EDU<mailto:johanna at BERKELEY.EDU>> wrote:

Later I'll log in to the LSA Ethics blog and comment there, but quickly:  Publisher X conducts peer review, has a history of publishing grammars that meet the field's standards, prints on archive-quality paper, and has advertising, distribution, and a conference presence that make its publications known to the world.  When my university judges publications by "quality", this is what it means.

But the issue of price is critical, and no academic should have to singlehandedly fight to have a good-quality but open-access or inexpensive publication recognized by a tenure committee. This is why we have professional societies.

Johanna Nichols

On Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM, Mark W. Post <markwpost at<mailto:markwpost at>> wrote:
Dear LINGTYP Listmembers,

I am sending the following link on behalf of Robbins Burling, who has written a piece on the LSA's Ethics Blog to do with the high costs of many published grammars from an ethics perspective. This relates to an extended discussion on this topic on LINGTYP some months ago, so may be of interest to listmembers. Rob has invited comments on the piece, and especially any proposed solutions.<>



Dr. Mark W. Post
Universität Bern
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
Länggassstrasse 49
3000 Bern 9

Tel +41 31 631 37 07
Eml markwpost at<mailto:markwpost at>

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