[Lingtyp] papercopy LT

Randy John LaPolla (Prof) RandyLaPolla at ntu.edu.sg
Wed Jul 5 02:45:04 UTC 2017

A brief anecdote in response to Jianming’s post and Frans’ comment about us being “creatures of yesterday’s habit” (quite true!), I had an eye-opening experience last year when two fourth-year undergraduate students were in my office for consultation:
At one point in the discussion I took out a journal issue to refer to an article, and the students commented, “Oh, so that is what a journal is!”. As everything is done electronically in our university, and there is no display of paper copies of journals in the library, in the four years of their education at the university the students had never seen a paper journal, only pdfs of individual articles.

So that generation (unlike those of us with many yesterdays and their associated habits) may be much more open to alternative ways of dissemination of ideas. But it is us more established folks who can help move things in a better direction: as we are not in the promotion and tenure rat race and don’t need to worry about publishing metrics and whatnot, we can lead the way to making alternative forms of dissemination viable and respected.

Randy J. LaPolla, PhD FAHA (羅仁地)| Professor of Linguistics and Chinese | Nanyang Technological University
HSS-03-45, 14 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637332 | Tel: (65) 6592-1825 GMT+8h | Fax: (65) 6795-6525 | http://randylapolla.net/
Most recent book:

On 5 Jul 2017, at 4:52 AM, Frans Plank <frans.plank at ling-phil.ox.ac.uk<mailto:frans.plank at ling-phil.ox.ac.uk>> wrote:

I'm not sure whether the recent Editorial Report in LT 20(3) (my last;  "un-published", but here is a quote) helps Martin at least with diagnosing our predicament.

[...]  Scholarship does not perforce
NEED journals. You can have an idea, make a discovery, defend an analysis,
develop an argument and discuss it with friends and colleagues, correspond
about it, privately or in your blog, report it at scholarly meetings, write it up and
put it on your own internet platform. The hearing you thus get in your discipline
may be of a magnitude most journal publications cannot hope to rival: only
think of the audiences conference presentations sometimes attract even in our
own modest typological circles. You may get acknowledged and even receive
formal recognition – except, unless you are published, the record you are on is
that of individual or collective memory. The way we scholars are, creatures of
yesterday’s habit, we would much rather see our precious words preserved in
black and white. But the last word on whether circulation in cold print, or
eternal storage in one or another repository, is called for is really the reader’s.

(I quote out of context;  the context is that in debates about publishing models it would be good to know more about readers.)

The GUARDIAN article Martin refers to offers another (though perhaps related) diagnosis, implying that it was not so much our "lack of organization", but, ulitmately, our vanity that enabled Robert Maxwell and his copycats at Elsevier to fundamentally change the ways of scholarly publishing.

Diagnosis first, therapy second.  (If vanity is involved, there are many who have considered it a therapy-resistant folly.)


On 04 Jul 2017, at 21:35, Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at shh.mpg.de<mailto:haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>> wrote:

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On 04.07.17 19:36, Wu Jianming wrote:

Good ideas (or bad ideas) can be published easily these days (e.g. you can easily upload your paper to Academia or Zenodo<https://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2017/02/24/what-should-what-do-i-do-with-my-draft-paper-hide-it-upload-to-academia-or-upload-to-zenodo/>, at no cost), but for professional recognition, one needs a well-organized social mechanism.

Scholars have not been well-organized in the past: As Stephen Buranyi explains in a fascinating recent Guardian article<https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/27/profitable-business-scientific-publishing-bad-for-science>, over decades they left the initiative to commercial companies, who own the titles and who make huge profits (or waste our money because of inefficient organization). If standard business criteria were employed, then publishing a scholarly article would cost between $100 and $500<http://bjoern.brembs.net/2016/12/should-public-institutions-not-be-choosing-the-lowest-responsible-bidder/>, not $5000 as is currently the case.

So how do we get out of the current predicament? I don't know, but we first need to recognize that we are in a disastrous situation.

Maybe we could have a typology journal that is published with a model similar to that of Glossa (with optional fees, supported by OLH<https://www.openlibhums.org/journals/>). Maybe we could find a university that gives "tenure<https://www.frank-m-richter.de/freescienceblog/2017/02/21/we-dont-need-open-access-but-scholar-owned-publication-brands/>" to a typology journal, the way most universities give tenure to researchers. Any ALT members out there with connections to librarians who want to secure their future by moving into publishing?

In any event, using ALT's money for "publication" (in fact, un-publication) behind a paywall is not sustainable in the longer run, so we desperately need new good ideas.

Dear colleagues,
      I am wondering whether there is another way to spread good  ideas freely and efficiently, which, nontheless, is equally recognized by the authority, just like journals.
Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de<mailto:haspelmath at shh.mpg.de>)
Kahlaische Strasse 10
Leipzig University
Nikolaistrasse 6-10
D-04109 Leipzig

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