21 December 2005

Divers Reviewers Wanted

A request from that admirable journal, BMCR, which dovetails nicely with my post on open sourcing:

BMCR is passing its fifteenth birthday in these weeks and is settled in
its ways of doing business. It remains a mild irony that this, the
second-oldest electronic journal in the humanities, is devoted to
disseminating information about the print medium. More than an irony,
it is a puzzle to us that various efforts to bring digital resources
within the purview of reviewership have fallen flat. Occasionally we
succeed in placing a physical manifestation of a digital artifact with
a reviewer (usually a CD publication), but despite having gone so far
as to promote the establishment of BMERR (Bryn Mawr Electronic
Resources Review), we have not sustained a community of practice around
serious reviews of web-based publications.

This is a concern for the scholarly world as a whole in two regards.
First, there are more and more very high quality and quite serious
scholarly works that appear in digital form; second, many observers and
participants in the scholarly communication world argue strongly for
Open Access publication -- that is to say, publication whose costs are
defrayed in some way *other* than by user charges. A freely accessible
web publication done to appropriate technical standards is the ideal in
that regard, and we are pleased that BMCR has indeed followed that
model for the electronic version (some of you remember that there was
once also a print version) for all its history.

But if it is true that reviewers are so strongly enticed by the
prospect of a free book or a free CD that absent such an enticement
they are unwilling to come forward, then we will soon be at an impasse,
as more and more important material becomes available in a form
unsusceptible to the enticement of reviewers. Now the future of
reviewing itself is a subject of interest to us, not least because one
of us will be participating in a panel on that subject at the APA
meetings in Montreal, but we are for now convinced that the first and
most obvious way forward is to insure that serious scholarly work,
however published, gets serious scholarly reviews.

To that end, this message is designed to elicit our traditional BMCR
volunteers on the usual terms. Indicate to us your qualifications and
interest, and if we approve your request, we will assign you the review
-- this time, without a free book to take away at the end. The
following resources have been commended to us in recent weeks (and we
pass them along on the same terms with which we report Books Received,
not as special selection or commendation, but simply as report of
notice received by us). Given the scope of these particular works, we
would welcome proposals for collaborative reviews.

*Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity (http://www.insaph.kcl.ac.uk/ala2004/) ,
second edition, by Charlotte Roueche/.

*Vindolanda Tablets Online (http://vindolanda.csad.ox.ac.uk/) , ed.
Alan Bowman et al.

*The editions of the D-Scholia and the Lexeis Homerikai
by H. Van Thiel, of Cyril's Glossary (one ms. version only) by U.

*J. Lundon's Scholia Minora in Homerum
(http://www.gltc.leidenuniv.nl/index.php3?m=52;c=238) .

This note is also notice that we welcome encouragement from authors,
publishers, or readers to pay attention to other good new work as well.
We also welcome suggestions for other ways to improve attention to
important work.