The University Press of North Georgia has released the final white paper from its NEH-funded project, “Encouraging Digital Scholarly Publishing in the Humanities” [pdf]. In addition to going over the design of the project and the conclusions to be drawn, the paper attends to areas of common interest for “libraries, presses, faculty, and administrators,” and includes recommendations for small presses. One interesting finding from the report notes, “Initial survey results indicated that presses use the same peer review process for both digital and print monographs, but 43% of scholars still believe that the process differs.”
From the abstract:
This project, led by the University Press of North Georgia, and funded by a Digital Start-Up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities focused on exploring the peer review process and increasing its usefulness to presses and scholars publishing digitally. By exploring this issues we have made recommendations for best practices in digital publishing, specifically for small academic presses. Through surveys and a workshop of key stakeholder groups (press directors, college administrators, humanities faculty, and library/technology center directors), we found a strong investment in the “gold standard” of double- or single-blind peer review. Working within the current academic publishing structure (including publishing in print) was a priority, even to presses and faculty members who were actively exploring digital publishing and open access models. On closer inspection, we realized that the various stakeholders valued the current peer review process for different reasons. And we found that the value of peer review goes beyond vetting the quality of scholarship and manuscript content. Based on these findings, we considered ways to obtain these benefits within the current academic structure through innovative peer review processes. At the same time, we looked for ways of offsetting potential risks associated with these alternative methods. We considered cost effective ways to accommodate the needs of the disparate constituencies involved in academic publishing while allowing room for digital publishing. While our findings focus primarily on small academic presses, they also have significant implications for the open access community.