By Lisa Bayer
Lisa Bayer is AUPresses President (2021-2022) and the director of the University of Georgia Press. This article is based on her remarks to the National Information Standards Organization’s 2021 Humanities Roundtable, “The Monograph in an Evolving Humanities Ecosystem.”
During a podcast interview last year Rich Barton, the founder of Expedia and Zillow, was asked how he’d pitched the idea of Expedia to Bill Gates back in 1996. He replied, “We were encouraged to swing big.” It’s an apt metaphor for university press publishing in general too, particularly for this community’s collaborative work, with each other and with the entire scholarly ecosystem, to sustain and reimagine monographs.
University presses individually and as a team—in the form of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses)—are in league with humanities scholars and a variety of other individual and institutional partners around the world. Long-form scholarship, otherwise known as the monograph, is the game ball or the diamond, depending on your perspective. A 2019 survey of some 5,000 scholars by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press found that “the monograph remains a vital part of the scholarly ecosystem . . . especially in the Humanities.” But monograph publishing has not ever been about the final product alone. Respondents said that the process of writing, of conducting research, of thinking it through, of creativity and intellectual freedom, allowed them to develop “interconnected, complex arguments” that became new knowledge through delivery in long-form texts. Survey respondents did feel, however, that “experimentation and evolution,” especially regarding access and discoverability, were necessary for monographs to remain relevant and useful—which is why this conversation continues, and continues to matter.Continue reading Sustaining and Reimagining the Monograph