Monday, January 03, 2005

the irregular history of it&society

Normally, journals publish a set number of issues in a year, and the issues in a given calendar or academic year are considered a "volume" of that journal. Once you get into the world of online journals, however, you enter the Wild West of academic publishing cycles. Consider, for instance, the volume and dating practices of IT&Society, an online social science journal for research on technology and society. At this writing, it has published seven issues, numbered and dated as follows:
Volume 1, Issue 1, dated Summer 2002
Volume 1, Issue 2, dated Fall 2002
Volume 1, Issue 3, dated Winter 2003
Volume 1, Issue 4, dated Spring 2003
Volume 1, Issue 5, dated Summer 2003
Volume 1, Issue 6, dated Winter/Spring 2004
Volume 1, Issue 7, dated Spring/Summer 2004
Questions: Will there be further issues of IT&Society? How many more issues before they begin Volume 2? What happened to Fall 2003? What happened in Spring 2004 that made it seem worth being half the date of two separate issues?

To me, the scariest thing about online journals is their single-sitedness. All kinds of conventional (paper) journals start and run a few issues and end, but by the time they're gone the existing issues have wormed themselves into the archiving systems of multiple libraries. With online journals, curation promises exist, but they do not have this same kind of strength-in-numbers (and, I suppose, strength-in-decentralization).

1 comment:

Tom Bozzo said...

I think this is a general problem for scholarship posted to the web -- someone puts up a page or site for some project, and between funding, continuity-of-affilitation issues or just neglect, it vanishes sooner or later.

In this case, it looks like Stanford hasn't put any technical obstacles in the way of you simply downloading IT&Society to your own computer for posterity. Wrinkles would be onlines journal whose publisher prevented that via site programming or DRM, and whether they show up in online journal archives a la JSTOR.