Comments on: Phantom plagiarists, academic boogeymen, and open access fears that go bump in the night History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 By: драконов grand casino как удалить аккаунт bavaro выигрыш | Exploitr | Open Bugs/Exploits Reporting Platform Sun, 27 Apr 2014 22:35:54 +0000 […] аккаунт депозит, grand casino как удалить аккаунт ставки, grand casino как удалить аккаунт победительказино нижний новгород играть игровые […]

By: Knitting Clio Fri, 02 Aug 2013 18:37:44 +0000 This is a bit off the topic of dissertations but as it’s on the subject of open access and digital publishing I’ll include it. I’m on the advisory board for the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, which is in the process of developing a policy on open access for journal articles, modeled partly on science journal publishing, and partly on history journals in the UK such as _Medical History_.

The issue that journal publishers run into is sustainability: who is going to pay for the staff and to keep the servers running if anyone can have access to the article for free without a subscription? The answer in the science is — the author(s). I was recently “invited” by a prominent medical journal that publishes history of medicine articles to have an article available on open access for the “reduced” price of $1,000. I suppose those with big research budgets and/or grants from NIH or NSF can manage that but those of us in history can’t. We do need to have a serious discussion about publishing in the digital age but we also need to understand that “free” information isn’t really “free” — someone, somewhere, has to pay for it.

By: Historiann Fri, 02 Aug 2013 17:27:32 +0000 Shaz: your comment points to something I mentioned in passing in my post, and which no one has commented on so far, and that was my point in #4 about the originality of dissertation research.

Just as the AHA’s policy recommendation points backwards, it also seems curiously indifferent to the very thing you mention, which is growing new fields. By suggesting to new Ph.D.s that they might consider an embargo on their digital dissertations, is the AHA suggesting that there’s really nothing or very little new under the sun? There’s no reason to put new research out there and have a conversation about it? Huh???

By: Shaz Fri, 02 Aug 2013 15:46:33 +0000 I’m kind of dumbfounded by all the embargo support. I could not have written my own dissertation (back in the paper/microfilm-based twentieth century) if I hadn’t had access to the footnotes of other dissertations. I had no problem ILLing dozens of theses. As part of a new field, we relied on each other’s work to do archival research. Isn’t that how fields grow?

I actually thought it was important that my dissertation could be cited years before my book came out — and that’s a great way to get your research/ideas identified as your own.

Re: Plagiarism: personally, the most blatant plagiarism of my work has been from my published pieces.

By: Maureen Ogle Fri, 02 Aug 2013 14:43:38 +0000 yes, it’s the point #3 that threw me (and which I pondered aloud at Twitter). They’re out there. Right there. At ProQuest (or whichever Big Company now runs that database). At WorldCat.

Dissertations are everywhere any reader wants them to be. So I’m all like, Huh??????

Well, that plus near-muscle-straining roll of my eyeballs over the AHA, which I gave up on years and years ago….

By: Indyanna Fri, 02 Aug 2013 12:37:47 +0000 It might be interesting to look at this question, to use a term seen a lot lately, trans-nationally. I’ve stumbled on several dissertations written in France in the last few years, always accidentally through keyword searches, not looking for French dissertations. But they have had a common not typeface, but rather manner of presentation, to wit: a line of vertical print in the left margin of each page with some information that is not clear to me. It does appear to suggest, however, some kind of national practice. I was skimming through one the day before this post arrived, looking more for primary sources I could use than any big “ideas” that I might appropriate. It didn’t feel *too* creepy doing that, although one can imagine the sources of paranoia about it in some contexts.

A couple of years ago, via the same system, I found the first 2,500 page dissertation in history that I ever heard of, or could even imagine. You wouldn’t have to embargo that one, as its length alone would probably inhibit appropriation for at least six years! And imagine the editorial injunction to cut words out if you wanted to get *that* one through a university press editorial board!

By: Susan Fri, 02 Aug 2013 06:42:11 +0000 Back in the old days, it was possible to require permission to read the hard copy of the dissertation for some years, and I did that – it put mien contact with those who were reading my dissertation. So I am not against embargoes. It seems to me, though, that this discussion has confused two separate issues. One is about the AhA statement, giving recent PhDs the option to decide, and the second what new PH.D.s should decide.

A friend once told my grad students that the phd is a drivers license. Some very fine drivers may have just squeaked through. You may not want that to be the first thing people see of yours. In my case, I saw the argument of my dissertation when I finished it, and this gave me time to put out what I was really thinking. Was I right? I dunno. It’s what I did 30 years ago, and it just is. And whether that was the wisest decision, I’d like today’s grad students the ability to make the same choice I did. And even if you embargo, the abstract is out there, and people can get in touch ask for the whole thing.

By: Historiann Fri, 02 Aug 2013 02:40:22 +0000 I don’t think I have a double-standard–I think it’s totally fine for recent grads to make the choice themselves, rather than to be commanded to submit a digital version of the diss. I just think that it feeds an unnecessary fear of engagement.

I am unfamiliar with “mid-career or senior scholars request[ing] that the privacy of a workshop paper or even a conference presentation be respected.” I’ve participated in workshops in which the precirculated papers were password protected, but that’s usually the decision of the conference organizer regardless of the preferences of the scholars. I don’t know what kind of “privacy” anyone presenting a conference paper can really expect, though–a ban on tweeting conference panels? (Has anyone giving a paper publicly demanded “privacy” in the discussion thereof?) This is something I’ve never confronted, but I take your point that people shouldn’t be hypocrites.

In any case, the dissertation has long been considered something that is a summation of an academic apprenticeship. They’ve been published for years and cited as published scholarship; they just haven’t circulated as easily before the digital age.

By: LLB Fri, 02 Aug 2013 02:32:28 +0000 My problem with much of the backlash directed toward the embargo is that there seems to be a double standard at play. We don’t want graduate students to have the option of controlling the dissemination of their intellectual labors, but we see no issue when mid-career or senior scholars request that the privacy of a workshop paper or even a conference presentation be respected. If the goal is truly open access, then ostensibly these forms of knowledge should also be freely circulated. Short of that, shouldn’t individual scholars at all stages have the right to choose when to share their work, whether or not we agree with their reasoning?

By: Tenured Radical Thu, 01 Aug 2013 16:53:13 +0000 Dear grumpy grad: the dissertation shows that you can do original research, structure an argument, situate it in the literature and take a project to completion. That’s no mean feat — ask any one of the ABDs who ultimately were not able to do it.

There is something affecting the profession as a whole right now, which is wanting everything to be more than it is, and sometimes more than it should be. Everybody wants to write a crossover book, for example, except that a good work of scholarship can’t always be written for a popular audience, and vice-versa. People also want their blogs to “count” towards tenure. Why? Should we really be embracing and count our email for tenure too? As a response to this, Cathy Davidson at Duke suggests that blogs should count in the category of “service” and that we should value service in the tenure process more than we do.

Different categories of literary activity have their own uses. The category of dissertation serves its purpose, both for the scholar and for the credentialing folk who want to know you have a basic skill set and are qualified to teach others. Anyone who tries to write a real book for their dissertation risks setting the bar way to high and staying in grad school for a long, expensive ride.

That said, the embargo truly sucks for those of us in the field of recent history — that’s where the good research is now, not among senior scholars — very few of them have the skills or interest to take it on.

In this vein,, a dissertation counts because if you don’t or can’t do it, you won’t get a PhD.