Publishing

Director Steve Cohn Retires

Steve Cohn (2)Steve Cohn, director of Duke University Press for twenty-five years, retires at the end of this week. He told the Duke Chronicle, “It has been a wild ride—sometimes wonderfully challenging, sometimes challenging to the point where I had no idea how we’d make it through—but in the end a very successful one.” To honor Steve, we offer some tributes from people who have worked with him over the years.

“I knew at the time when the provost asked me to take up a leadership position at the press that Steve was fully in support of that action, even though he obviously had credentials infinitely superior to mine. Later I understood that Steve was acting in character; that is, he was being generous and professional and putting what he saw as the needs of the press ahead of his own ambitions. Steve has always been a ‘company man,’ someone whose loyalty and devotion to the enterprise was obvious at every moment. I cherish my own tenure at the Press and attribute the success that we had in those years to Steve’s extraordinary dedication. And he also put up with me.” —Stanley Fish, Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University and former Director of Duke University Press

“My first job at DUP was as the first assistant Steve Cohn had ever had. While I think I taught him some things about how to be assisted, he taught me a great deal more, through the example of his leadership: how to act with integrity; how to disagree strongly without making enemies; how to listen to and consider differing perspectives; how to communicate clearly and directly; and so much more. Steve’s leadership has shaped the strong organization we have become.”—Patty Chase, Steve’s former assistant and current Digital Content Manager

“Thank you for being kind, patient, and enthusiastic about the topic at hand (no matter what it was).”—Maria Volpe, Steve’s current assistant

“I’ve worked with Steve for more than twenty years and throughout that time I’ve always been impressed by his integrity, his devotion to our mission, his accessibility to his staff, and his commitment to being transparent in his decision-making. Sometimes that means we get more information than we actually want! Personally, I’ll miss Steve’s subtle sense of humor, his kind advice about parenting, and his deep historical knowledge of the Press and of Durham.”—Laura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager

“Steve Cohn’s thoughtful stewardship of the Press, his commitment to having all staff participate in the strategic planning process, and his zeal not only for our mission but for the publishing industry in general have made him an exceptional leader. I’ve enjoyed hearing stories about the extraordinary lengths Steve went to to recruit people to the Press in its less-robust days (including loaning one of them his caravan), and I am grateful for the work he put into making the Press what it is today.”—Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager

“With smarts, integrity, and humor of an infectiously subtle kind, Steve has stewarded DUP to the cutting-edge prominence it holds today as kick-ass academic press #1. Steadfast in vision, bold in execution, with the chops to be daring, Steve has been an exemplary director. His legacy will linger for a very long time. But his presence will be sorely missed. Thank you Steve for making the press, and involvement with it, such a richly intellectual engagement.”—Anne Allison, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and member of the Press’s Editorial Advisory Board

“The press has benefited greatly from Steve’s publishing entrepreneurial vision and we’ve come a long way in his many years as director. I’ve really enjoyed working for him these past nine years. I have truly appreciated his support of our working environment of creative collaboration that drives and enables DUP successes. I wish him lots of lazy days of biking, reading, kayaking, and traveling in his retirement.”—Nancy Hoagland, Director of Editing, Design, and Production

“Steve Cohn leaves an amazing legacy at Duke University Press. He has shaped the Press with his independent and innovative ideas and through setting ambitious, long term goals. His entrepreneurial approach has challenged the organization to innovate and to embrace change, such as being one of the first UPs to establish and successfully sell our own electronic journals and books collections. He has successfully led the Press through huge changes in the scholarly publishing industry and fluctuations in the US marketplace while continuing to grow the Press so that it is set up to thrive in the future. Many thanks, Steve, for all of your hard work and dedication. “—Cason Lynley, Director of Marketing and Sales

“Whenever I’ve needed help, Steve has been available with an amazing and immediate command of detail, the right questions, and ideas that have taught me time and again how to balance pragmatism and our mission. I’ve always left the room with a solid plan and a lighter mind. Thank you for everything, and congratulations, Steve!”—Leslie Eager, Director of Publishing Services, Project Euclid

“I’ll always be grateful for Steve’s vision, creativity, and tenacity, In 2010, he envisioned Duke University Press as a digital publisher of distinction, and set us a goal of selecting, producing, marketing, and selling our digital publications with as much expertise and finesse as we did our print books and journals. To drive us forward in this area, Steve tapped me to lead our digital publishing strategy, and in doing so, provided me with a tremendous opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Press and to scholarly publishing more generally. I am the publishing professional I am today due in large part because Steve shared generously his vast store of publishing knowledge and insight. For this and so much more, thank you, Steve.”—Allison Belan, Associate Director, Digital Strategy & Systems

“Steve envisioned what the Press could become and was the brilliant planner able to bring it into being. Each time the publishing environment changed for books or for journals, he was looking ahead to see what we needed to do in order to flourish five and ten years out. His guidance and leadership will be long remembered. He never told us what to publish, but always made it better.”—Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director

In his retirement, Steve plans to devote more time to the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, of which he is president. All of us at the Press will miss him and wish him the best in all his future endeavors. We are welcoming our new director, Dean Smith, on June 25.

Celebrating the People of Duke University Press

This week, members of the Association of University Presses honor our late colleague Mark Saunders, director of the University of Virginia Press, with a blog tour recognizing the people who make up our university press community. We asked our colleagues at Duke University Press to tell us what they appreciate about the people they work alongside.

“I spent a week-in-residence over a decade ago in the production department at the University of California Press. During that week I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Tony Crouch and Marilyn Schwartz, and the lengths to which they went to make sure I met as many people as possible and had access to whatever information they had that might help me and my department back home at Duke. I think that week was when I truly learned what university press publishing is all about: sharing ideas and resources freely with colleagues, both at home and around the country and world; struggling together with new technologies, new ways of doing business, new problems thrown at us by the likes of Amazon; and forming lasting friendships through annual meetings, committee work, listserv interactions, and even Twitter. Duke University Press is the house I live my work life in, its staff is my family, and my AUPresses colleagues are my virtual community.” —Patty Chase, Digital Content Manager

“I’ve worked at Duke University Press for 14 years—longer than I’ve lived at any one address. My colleagues and I know each others’ footsteps, tea preferences, and pet peeves. We’ve weathered tough projects and stressful times, and have greater trust and respect for each other as a result. Candidates often ask what we like about the Press and the answer is always the people. It feels trite but it’s true.” —Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager

“I’ve worked at Duke University Press for almost two years after several positions in the library services industry. Being new to the publishing side, I appreciate that my veteran colleagues are committed to providing resources that help all of us succeed. We celebrate each others’ accomplishments, whether big or small, as a team.” —Katja Moos, Digital Collections Sales Manager

“A visiting editor once asked our sales team what incentive they had to make sales if they didn’t get bonuses or commission. A few of us almost laughed because to us it was so obvious—the incentive is the mission and the fact that we want the Press to thrive and continue contributing to the scholarly dialogue. That’s what makes working for a UP special; the people who come and stay at places like Duke University Press believe in that mission and put their hearts into it. Even after 19 years at the Press, I am impressed on a daily basis with the dedication, creativity, intelligence, and humor of the people with whom I work.” —Cason Lynley, Director of Marketing and Sales

“My colleagues at Duke University Press are dedicated, smart, and creative, and I could write tributes to each of them. One person stands out as a star example of everything that is great about university press staff. Our Title Management [publishing software] Product Manager Ashley Postlethwaite never ceases to amaze me with her ingenuity, efficiency, deep knowledge, and eagerness to solve problems. I have come to believe there is no Title Management error she cannot troubleshoot, no report she cannot improve on, and no workflow she cannot make more efficient with a few under-the-hood tweaks. I’m also really impressed that with Title Management working generally smoothly for much of the organization, Ashley is not resting on her laurels, but instead going to various staff members to conduct audits of all the work we do in the system so that she can help us make it even better. Thank you, Ashley, for all you do!” —Laura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager

We are fortunate to work with a large number of dedicated and thoughtful individuals, and we hope that you feel the influence of their care as you read our books and journals.

Congratulations to our 2019 AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show Honorees

The selections for the 2019 AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show have been announced and as usual, our talented designers have been honored.

In the scholarly typographic category, Heather Hensley and Julienne Alexander have been selected for their design of Laughing at the Devil by Amy Laura Hall.

 

Amy Ruth Buchanan was also honored in the scholarly typographic category for her unified design of Fred Moten’s trilogy consent not to be a single being, which includes Black and Blur, Stolen Life, and The Universal Machine.

This year’s jury was Matt Avery, Nicole Caputo, Sara T. Sauers, and Na Kim. Congratulations to our honorees and thanks to all our designers for creating such beautiful books.

The Best Books We Read in 2018

From literary fiction to graphic novels, we love to read at Duke University Press! In this post, our staff members share their favorite reads from the past year. We hope you enjoy their suggestions, and maybe find a few gift ideas for the holiday season.

Akwaeke_EmeziElizabeth Ault, Acquisitions Editor, recommends two books this year: “The best book I read in 2018 is definitely Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, the story of an Igbo-Tamil person whose bodymind is host to several ancient spirits/gods. It’s a stunning, poetic exploration of Igbo cosmologies, as well as of migration, gender, and dis/ability. The multiple voices in the book are brilliantly realized and distinctive, until they aren’t. I can’t wait to read it again.”

Alexander_MastersLiz Beasley, Managing Editor, recommends a biographical detective story: “I loved A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in a Skip by Alexander Masters. When Masters finds a large collection of diaries in a dumpster, a very slow (five-year) chase ensues as he tries to find their author. At turns fascinating, dull, and suspenseful, and full of charming Britishisms, this memoir/detective story is a delight. Spoiler alert: illustrations and photographs are included, so avoid the temptation to flip through the pages for clues!”

Jordy_RosenbergCourtney Berger, Executive Editor, recommends a debut LGBTQ-themed novel: “I tore through Jordy Rosenberg’s Confessions of the Fox during my summer vacation. A salty and smart retelling of the life of Jack Sheppard as a trans man, Rosenberg shows us an 18th-century London in the throes of imperial expansion and where the violences of racism, gender normativity, and class hierarchy are being countered by resistance. The book is framed by the story of Dr. Voth, whose discovery and annotation of Sheppard’s narrative likewise reveals the brutally extractive world of the corporate university as well as ongoing defiance to it. Great read for folks who love fiction and scholarly footnotes!”

Claudia_RankineJocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing and Sales Manager, recommends the subject of a recent DUP staff book discussion: “The Press’s Equity and Inclusion group selected Citizen by Claudia Rankine for discussion in November. This beautifully written book intersperses art, poetry, and short essays to create a chilling portrait of racial aggression in the US. The book topped ‘best of the year’ lists for 2014 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the L.A. Times Book Prize, among many other awards.”

Alexandra_RowlandJessica Malitoris, an intern in Books Marketing, recommends a fantasy novel: “Alexandra Rowland’s A Conspiracy of Truths is a fantastic tale about the power of stories, for good or ill. Chant, a traveling storyteller, finds himself on trial in a strange country for witchcraft. His desperate attempts to talk his way out of execution have repercussions not just for himself but for the entire country. Rowland’s writing—forceful, full of personality, and yet delicate—is a joy to read. I heartily recommend this book to any lovers of fantasy and perhaps even those who might not normally enjoy the genre.”

Patrick_NathanMichael McCullough, Books Marketing and Sales Senior Manager, recommends three LGBTQ-themed books this year: “Patrick Nathan’s Some Hell is the sad and powerful story of how a Minnesota family comes apart in the wake of a suicide. The focus is on the gay teenaged son and the mother, who are both—separately and in secret—reading through and protecting each other from the deceased father’s obsessive journals/notebooks, trying to understand his life and figure out how to keep going. It is hard to believe that this is a first novel, given the pinpoint control and maturity Nathan displays.

Andrew_Sean_Greer“On a much lighter note, I also read Less, Andrew Sean Greer’s hilarious novel about a minor gay novelist who puts together a deranged book tour to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. In a similar vein, My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley (one of my favorite writers) also features a middle-aged gay man who decides to flee San Francisco to escape the consequences of a failed relationship. McCauley’s three main characters are so funny, so appealing, so human, and so beleaguered by life that I was praying for a happy ending.”

Laurent_BinetChris Robinson, Copywriter in Books Marketing, recommends a book of literary fiction: “The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet is part detective caper, part alternative history, and a completely hilarious send-up of critical theory. Following the quest for Roman Jakobson’s mythical ‘seventh function of language’—which gives its possessor the ability to dictate the actions of other—readers learn the ‘real’ reason Althusser killed his wife, the motivations of the driver of the laundry truck that killed Barthes, Kristeva’s spycraft, a secret debate society, and a surprise revelation about Barack Obama. Anyone who has read even a bit of French theory should love this book.”

Emil_FerrisDan Ruccia, Designer in Journals Marketing, recommends a debut graphic novel: “My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris is a totally engrossing graphic novel about childhood, fitting in, Chicago in the late 1960s, monsters of various sorts, a mysterious murder, and so much more. The artwork is so vibrant and active, down to the lovingly recreated monster comic book covers that appear throughout. Can’t wait for the second volume!”

Celeste_NgLaura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager in Books Marketing, recommends a 2017 novel: “My favorite read of 2018 was Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere. It’s the story of the apparently perfect Richardson family who live in apparently perfect Shaker Heights. Their perfect world is shattered when their close friends adopt a Chinese-American baby. The compelling story and carefully written characters bring up some uncomfortable truths for ‘liberal’ white readers without being overly preachy. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day and a half!”

Gerard_ReveMatt Tauch, Book Designer, recommends The Evenings by Gerard Reve: “I wasn’t aware of this author or his ‘Dutch postwar masterpiece’ before chancing upon a review in the Guardian some time ago. It was one quote from that review—‘I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again.’—that made me think ‘this sounds perfect.’ And, for me, it nearly was. Dry, dark (morose, occasionally to the point of macabre), and quietly hilarious, The Evenings follows our man Frits through ten droll days and damp Amsterdam nights leading up to New Year’s Eve 1946, his persistent neuroses forever in tow (others’ creeping baldness is of particular concern). But books aren’t all about content, right? Please consider also that this is the first and only English translation, and Pushkin has packaged it beautifully: wrapped in a gorgeously illustrated uncoated jacket and tucked in between the most precious light pink end papers.”

Oyinkan_BraithwaiteErica Woods Tucker, Production Coordinator, recommends My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: “This is such a smart, funny book that takes on themes of feminism while taking you through a wild romp into the lives of two sisters, one of whom obviously has the better end of the relationship. It’s a short book, so you can read it in one sitting. But since it’s short, I can’t give much away; but I will say, ‘This isn’t your average serial killer book.’ So if you like mystery-thrillers that make you think and laugh a bit, this one is for you.”

Thanks to our staff for another year of great reads and recommendations! We look forward to expanding our collective literary minds in 2019.

Join Us for an Open House on November 15

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To celebrate University Press Week, we are delighted to invite friends, fans, and colleagues to join us at our first-ever Open House on November 15 from 3-5 p.m.

Explore the Duke University Press library as you enjoy book displays and refreshments, meet staff, and enter a raffle featuring a tote bag full of new books and journals.

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Win this tote bag full of books, journals, and swag!

University Press Week highlights the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society. In addition to our Open House, look for displays of our books and journals around campus and read special posts on our blog that week.

Duke students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome!

We are located in Brightleaf Square’s North Building at 905 West Main Street. Enter from the courtyard at the door between the empty restaurant and the craft store. Head up the stairs and turn left. The library is down the hall on the left.

Free parking is available at the Brightleaf Square gated lot at Gregson and Main Streets, on the side of Morgan Imports. Bring your parking ticket to the open house for validation. We look forward to meeting you!

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Open Access Week Q&A with Director Steve Cohn

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Today our Director Steve Cohn answers questions in honor of Open Access Week, a global event dedicated to discussion and education about Open Access within the scholarly and research community and to the expansion of access to research and information across disciplines. Steve Cohn got his start in publishing as the managing editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, which he brought with him to the Press in 1984 as the Press’s eighth journal (we now publish over fifty), and which the Press continues to publish today. He came to the Press as the Journals Manager, and after building and strengthening that program he became Director in 1993. Steve led the Press back from a period of financial insecurity in the nineties, through the transition from print to digital formats, and through significant growth and expansion of its publishing program.

Why is it important that Duke University Press experiment with Open Access?

Given the way our world is changing—with many librarians, funding agencies, and governments pushing towards a fully open-access publishing environment—we feel it is imperative that we begin experimenting with open-access publishing, even though we see no way for open-access publishing to be feasible (or desirable) on a broad scale for the sort of publishing we are now doing.

Mainly for that reason, but also because we believe that demonstrating ways to publish open-access projects successfully can allow us to attract some excellent projects that we could not otherwise have attracted, we have begun publishing both journals and books in open-access arrangements, in each case insisting that the OA arrangement must be financially sustainable over the long term.

What was the Press’s first venture into OA publishing?

Our longest-running OA project by far is the Carlyle Letters Online (CLO), the electronic database that has mainly superseded the long series of printed volumes (now nearing fifty) that began in 1970 and will continue to be published steadily at the pace one volume per year, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, until we reach the end of this voluminous set of letters from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle in a few more years.

The CLO is widely considered to be a model “lives and letters” database, much used, much loved, and much imitated. We hope it can soon start to serve as the model and the base for a much wider set of annotated letters, diaries, and other Victorian life-writing.  

What open access initiatives have been most successful for Duke University Press?

In the realm of journals, we have concentrated our open-access efforts on what are alternatively called diamond or platinum models, i.e., models that do not depend on author payments as their source of sustainability. In the areas we publish in primarily—the humanities, the interpretive social sciences, and mathematics—most authors do not have grant funding to cover OA charges, as they do in the sciences; so they would have to pay article fees out of their own pockets.

The model for those efforts is our very successful publication of Environmental Humanities, a journal that is supported through annual contributions of $5,000 each from five academic centers scattered among Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. (Magazines for Libraries said, “Environmental Humanities is one of the most beautifully realized open access journals I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. This is a title whose URL should be shouted from the rooftops: it’s that good.”)  

This is a model we are promoting for other open-access journals that want to work with us, and we have recently signed an agreement with Judith Butler and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs for taking on a fledgling journal called Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, which we expect will be equally successful.

How do you decide whether to participate in an OA initiative? What are your criteria?

Our criteria for publishing an OA project of any sort are the very same criteria we use for choosing to take on any publishing project: the project must be intellectually significant and it must be financially sustainable. Both our OA books and our OA journals pass through the very same peer-review processes, including final approval by our faculty board, as everything else we publish.

The books we have published in OA form have almost always already been through the approval process long before they are chosen for OA publication. The main OA funding programs for books that we now use—Knowledge Unlatched and TOME—have so far been focused on already-accepted books that are well along in the production process by the time they are chosen for receiving the financial support that will allow the access to be opened up.

But even if we knew from the first that a book would be published OA, we would take it through the same review and approval process; and also we would design, edit, produce, market, and sell it in all the same ways as a book that had no open access.

How do you find ways to make OA book publishing financially sustainable?

So far, we find it impossible to imagine receiving funding that would be sufficient to pay all the costs for our very labor-intensive methods of book publication. Our books are expensive to produce, given the amount of time and care we put into them, and the unlatching amounts provided so far by OA funding sponsors like Knowledge Unlatched and TOME are not nearly sufficient to cover our full publishing costs (including staff time). So, with the exception of a few early and not very successful experiments, all of the books we publish in open access form electronically are also for sale through all our usual sales channels: we print them like any other book we publish; and we also offer them for sale in electronic formats in all the usual ways.

This is sometimes called “hybrid” OA publishing. We expect that the subventions or “unlatching fees” that enable us to open these books up can cover the revenue losses that come from electronic availability, as people choose to use the OA version rather than buy a copy. But we definitely do not expect those fees—on the order of $15,000—to be our sole source of sustainable income on these books, as it would not be nearly enough. With 75 books that are hybrid OA now on the market, we are starting to be in a position to collect good data on the effect of electronic OA publishing on the sales of these books. The ability to measure the effect of OA in a hybrid publishing arena is crucial for us to be able to assess whether a payment of something like $15,000 is enough to cover our revenue losses when we open the electronic access.

What’s Online Peer Review For? Guest Post by Stacy Lavin

It’s Peer Review Week, an annual event that brings together individuals, institutions, and organizations committed to sharing the central message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications. We are pleased to share a guest post by Senior Managing Editor for Journals, Stacy Lavin.

You might look at the title to this post and think: Duh, it’s for peer review. Right? I mean, what is an online peer-review system but a digital version of the analog process that editorial offices have been following for centuries? All anachronisms (and attempts at catchy openers) aside, that’s exactly what I used to think. That is, it’s what I thought online peer review was for before I spent about four years acting as an intermediary between our journals’ editorial offices that use online peer review and the vendor for the system we use (Aries/Editorial Manager). In those four years, I’ve discovered that online peer review has the potential to do much more than streamline the work editorial offices do to vet and select content for publication. It has the potential not only to address the pain points of academic journal editors and their staff but also to serve the broader strategic interests of editorial offices, scholars, and publishers in less obvious ways.

As we’ve been reminded during Peer Review Week 2018, “good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications.” This year’s Peer Review Week theme of diversity in peer review has, moreover, prompted us to consider the invisible and indirect barriers to “good peer review,” which resonates with the growing awareness of the importance of actively and systematically developing a culture of inclusion within the community of university presses. As Sandra Korn and Alejandra Mejía astutely observe, writing of their work to coordinate the student intern program in the Books Acquisitions department of Duke University Press, it “is vital to the intellectual work of publishing to have queer students, students of color, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and student activists engaging with the literature that is oftentimes theorizing the experiences of their communities.” Alice Meadows, writing just this morning, reminds us that while we’ve known for a while that scholarly publishing overall is an “overwhelmingly white and cis-female industry, with a leadership that is disproportionately white male dominated,” it is becoming clear that peer review is likewise “less diverse and more biased than it could or should be, which is hindering our efforts to ensure an inclusive, ethical, trustworthy scholarly communications ecosystem.”

Getting back to my opening thoughts about online peer review, I would add that cultivating an inclusive culture in all of the spheres of our work as a scholarly publishing community is one of the broader strategic interests that online peer-review systems have the potential to further. For instance, among the eight tactics Meadows recommends in her post as ways to tackle diversity and inclusion in peer review, two of them involve pillars of online peer-review systems: data and software. Tactic number six is “Collect the data.” While there has been limited progress in creating gender equity in referee populations, Meadows suggests that at the very least collecting the data is “a critical first step toward being able to understand, and ultimately resolve, the issue.” Tactic number seven is “Make use of available tools” like editorial management software that can “spot and reduce the risk of bias in the selection of reviewers.”

Now, you might be thinking peer-review systems are hardly built to address diversity and they’re often seen as pretty onerous to manage by users as it is. Good point. Let’s step back for a moment and consider that the main challenges that online peer-review systems originally aimed to address were ironically the high labor requirements of managing the processing and vetting of submissions—inviting reviewers, reminding reviewers, making decisions, sending decision letters, asking for revisions, reminding authors to send in revisions—not to mention increasing concern over reviewer availability and fatigue. Online peer-review systems stepped in to help solve some of these problems (automating reminders, etc.), while more avant-garde services have sought to streamline the work of reviewers themselves (Rubriq, etc.). While the automation and data tracking features of peer-review systems have been useful, reviewer fatigue has been a more elusive and possibly more critical challenge. For instance, there are journals who claim to practice blind review but then—passing the burden of finding a reviewer onto the contributor—require contributors not only to nominate a reviewer for their submission but also obtain the permission of that reviewer to nominate them (which I guess makes it not-so-blind review).

With online peer review, as is often the case with technology, solving some frustrations gave birth to new frustrations. The typical grievances are aversions to non-intuitive interfaces—the tinkering, system-admin-oriented environments where coders and likeminded folks feel right at home but others…don’t (I’ll leave it to Kent Anderson to articulate the way many users feel about manuscript tracking and submission systems). But that’s just one (solvable) problem representing only one facet of the massive capabilities these systems have the potential to materialize to help the scholarly publishing community facilitate a more inclusive peer review culture (not to mention more efficient editorial and production processes). In fact, I am convinced that the biggest opportunity of the current state of online peer-review is also a source of the biggest concerns users have: it can do so much more than they need. They’d prefer not having so many functions, options, buttons, or configurations. They don’t want to have to adapt their workflows to the system. The beauty of it is that they don’t have to. As Meadows notes, we can use existing features of these robust systems to pursue the multifaceted interests of the scholarly communications community. As well-funded companies recognize the value of and acquire online peer-review systems, those systems might become more flexible and capable of developing the tools we need to solve the more elusive problems of peer review like reviewer fatigue and making peer review more inclusive—in fact, solving the latter is key to solving the former. Likewise, established publishing vendors are adding peer review to their suite of services, seeking input from the academic publishing community on how to best meet their needs. Our voices as publishers and potential consumers of their expanded services will carry a lot of weight in those conversations, I would think. As I see it, our job in this climate of consolidation/expansion with respect to online peer-review software is to focus on what these systems can do to help us, not just our workflows but also our broader strategic interests, such as cultivating inclusion in all aspects of what we do. It’s not our job to adapt to these systems (they’re almost infinitely configurable) but theirs to adapt to us in our efforts to actively and systematically foster diversity in scholarly publishing.

How a Culture of Inclusion Can Improve Peer Review: Guest Post by Sandra Korn and Alejandra Mejía

It’s Peer Review Week, an annual event that brings together individuals, institutions, and organizations committed to sharing the central message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications. We are pleased to share a guest post by Assistant Editor Sandra Korn and Editorial Associate Alejandra Mejía to kick off the week.

Last year for peer review week, our Editorial Director Ken Wissoker wrote about why he loves peer review. This year, we have a different sort of take: we want to look at how mentoring and developing students from diverse backgrounds can strengthen the work of book acquisitions.

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Staff and interns from our Books Acquisitions department on a field trip to the Museum of Durham History, including post authors Sandra Korn (back left) and Alejandra Mejía (front, second from right).

The two of us work together to coordinate the student internship program in the Books Acquisitions department at Duke University Press. Our department relies on our students to carry out some of the administrative work that is essential to our workflow, but we also draw them into conversations about projects in their field of interest, and provide professional development experience for them in acquisitions and across the press.

How do diversity and inclusion, the academic peer review process, and student internships overlap? We believe that listening to voices that have been traditionally underrepresented in the publishing industry can make our editorial work, and our author’s books, more thoughtful and responsive. This is especially vital because our industry remains majority white — a recent study found that 91% of employees in scholarly publishing identify as white. Valuing insights from our student interns can aid the process of upholding socially conscientious scholarship as well as promote a more inclusive culture within academic publishing.

Duke Press hires three to five undergraduate and graduate students during the summer and school year, and we are able to pay all of our student interns. Many other university presses, especially those at public universities with constrained budgets, still have unpaid internships — but important conversations questioning that common practice are finally happening across the publishing industry. Paid internships make interning here a viable option for students from low-income backgrounds: after all, many low-income students work in order to finance their studies, maintain themselves, and send money home. We are grateful to provide students from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to learn about an industry which they may have not ever thought about as a feasible career path.

And, we have made the conscious decision to review student intern applications using a holistic rubric. The many different experiences and skills that diverse applicants bring to the table will undoubtedly influence their work and the direction of the Press as a whole. We take care to hire acquisitions interns who come from the many colleges and universities across our region, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). (If you’re a student nearby, you can apply right now to work in our department this year!)

As coordinators of the internship program, we recognize our role in training future scholars and publishing professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds, from academic to socioeconomic. Part of this work is recognizing the daily support that we can provide our students via training, relationship-building, and upholding their voices.

It is exactly by valuing the opinions of student interns and colleagues that we can begin to expand the scope of scholarly publishing and create a culture of inclusion in the publishing industry. For instance, we’ve already seen how fruitful it can be for junior-level staff to express opinions, thoughts, and knowledge about processes and projects. One of our editors is acquiring a book that analyzes racism in the American public school system. Our summer intern, who recently graduated from a local arts high school, was able to speak to the editor about her own experience as a person of color in a predominantly white school. And we have heard student interns contribute important insights into who might be an appropriate peer reviewer or cover artist. Moreover, these students are our future acquisition editors, authors, and peer reviewers: truly including them in editorial conversations now will strengthen the scholarly publishing industry in the long term.

It is vital to the intellectual work of publishing to have queer students, students of color, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and student activists engaging with the literature that is oftentimes theorizing the experiences of their communities. We are excited to think about what the future of academic publishing could look like with a wide array of voices and skills coming together.

Meet Our 2018 Summer Interns!

It is important for us to recognize our student interns and how hard they work. We would also like to hear about what they are learning from the Press and what experiences and impressions they will take with them when they leave. We created this blog post and video featuring our Summer 2018 interns to help capture all of that. Learn more about them with these brief introductions, and see what Duke University Press means to them.


Patrick Thomas Morgan

Born and raised in Watertown, NY, Patrick Morgan is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in Duke University’s English department. After having worked for Discover, Earth, and The American Gardener, he was inspired to develop his dissertation, titled “Manifesting Vertical Destiny: Geology, Reform, and the Stratified Earth in American Literature, Long Nineteenth Century.” Morgan has been the editorial assistant of American Literature at Duke University Press since 2014, where he has improved his critical thinking skills and learned how to summarize entire books in only one hundred words. Teaching is Morgan’s passion. After Duke he wants to continue working in education and publishing.

Patrick loves “being a part of a publishing community, working with others to create a quality publication.” 

Curious fact about Patrick:I used to be in a book discussion group with monks who made a vow of silence (Trappists, or Cistercians of the Strict Observance).”


Renee RaginOriginally from Manhattan, NY, Renee Ragin is heading this fall into her fifth year of Duke University’s Graduate Program in Literature (critical theory and philosophy). She is interning with the Acquisitions World Reader team where she has learned the importance of being detail-oriented.

“It is interesting but difficult; I am happy people are taking the time to explain everything,” she said of her work.

Ragin hopes to stay in academia and teach, or continue to work at Duke University Press.

Curious fact about Renee: “I used to be a competitive swimmer. I swam all four years of high school and a few years in college in the intramurals.”


John JerniganSophomore John Jernigan is an economics and statistics undergraduate at Duke University. Jernigan, who is from Durham, NC, interns in Duke University Press’s Journals Production Department, where he has learned the publishing and editing process for journals. Jernigan said this is his first office job and that his coworkers and the professional environment are providing him with a “great learning experience.” 

Once he leaves the Press, he plans to attend graduate school and start his own business.

Curious fact about John: “I’ve had every flavor of Pelican’s SnoBall.” (Pelican’s is a regional chain offering shaved ice.)


Ithiopia LemonsIthiopia Lemons, raised in Durham, NC, is heading into her second year as a graduate student in the Educational Technology Program at North Carolina Central University. At Duke University Press, Lemons is an Internal Communication student worker for the Staff, Operations, and Support team. Her ultimate goal is to become an entrepreneur and build on her natural body products business, which she is hoping to expand in the future. While working at the Press, she has gained office experience and improved her leadership skills.

Curious fact about Ithiopia: “My favorite fruit is cantaloupe.”


Blake Beaver.pngKansas native Blake Beaver is a Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Literature at Duke University. He is interning with the Books Marketing Department here at the Press. “It has been really positive. Everyone has been really friendly—busy, but good. I feel it is important to have an understanding of how people actually market their books, how you create your sales strategy, what is a realistic sales goal for a book, and to understand the particularities of the trade books versus the more academic books.” Blake wants to have a tenure-track position as a professor.

Curious fact about Blake: “I grew up riding horses and raised bucket calves.”


Erika Ianovale.PNGBorn in Milan, Italy and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Erika Ianovale is a rising senior studying mass communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in Spanish at North Carolina Central University. She is currently interning with the Journals Marketing team. “I have learned a lot. My supervisors and the team are very supportive and master what they do. Once I leave the Press I want to be able to learn as many things as they teach me, but mainly how to deal with the international market.”

She would love to further her publishing knowledge at DUP or do public relations work for a multinational company in New York City, California, or Florida.

Curious fact about Erika: “I speak four languages (Portuguese, Italian, English, and Spanish).”


Zachary Farmer.jpg

Junior Zachary Farmer is studying sports management at Winston-Salem State University. He is currently interning at the front desk. “It has been smooth and relaxed. When I’m done here, I want to further my communication skills.” Zachary wants to work with a professional sports team and possibly become a general manager.

Curious fact about Zachary: “I’m allergic to nuts.”

 


Bethany White.pngOriginally from Gaithersburg, MD, fifth-year senior Bethany White is a mass communication major with a concentration in broadcast media and a minor in writing/English at North Carolina Central University. White interns on Duke University Press’s Communications team, where she has learned new tools with Excel and has worked on developing her communication skills. “It’s very laid-back, but we still get our work done,” she said.

After her internship at the Press, she wants to work for a public affairs or media relations branch within the government.

Curious fact about Bethany: “I really enjoy listening to rock music.”


Anastasia Karklina.JPG

Originally from Latvia, Anastasia Karklina, is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Duke University’s Graduate Program in Literature, and her specialization is cultural theory and critical race studies. Karklina has worked for three semesters in the Books Marketing Department, where she has been mostly assisting with awards. She has also improved her design and administrative skills.

Curious fact about Anastasia: I am known by my friends as an activist, and I do social justice work in the community.”


Ashley Lee.jpegWilmington, NC, native Ashley Lee is a graduate student currently studying creative writing, specifically nonfiction, at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She is interning with the Books Editorial team. “It’s going well; I’ve learned a lot. After I leave the Press I want to get a stronger understanding of what the relationship looks like between editors, editorial styles, and authors, and what long-term collaboration looks like.” She would love to continue working in academic publishing, or write for television and/or film.

Curious fact about Ashley: “I enjoy photography when I can.”


Kim Reisler.JPGKimberly Reisler, a graduate student from the Bay Area in California, is studying for her master’s in library science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is currently interning with the Digital Strategies Department. “It’s been really good. It’s fun to learn about how everything works together to create finished products. When I leave I want to have a better understanding of how to integrate different technologies, how they work together, and how technology supports the work that people do.” Kimberly wants to do something that relates to information systems and library technology.

Curious fact about Kimberly: “I love hamsters.”


Nora Nunn.JPGGraduate student Nora Nunn is from Atlanta, GA, and is pursuing her Ph.D. in English at Duke University. Her research focuses on genocide in the twentieth century in the American imagination. She is currently interning with American Literature. “It has been great. I think I’ve been the editorial assistant for American Literature for a couple of years and it’s a great way to share intellectual work through the journal. I hope to learn more ways to engage with the public and digital humanities.” Nora is open to various possibilities. She wants to do something related to education and intellectual conversation, whether it’s teaching or researching.

Curious fact about Nora: “I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda.”


Anna Tybinko.JPGAnna Tybinko, an ABD student from Philadelphia, PA, is studying for her Ph.D. at Duke University in Romance Studies. She was a World Reader intern in Books Editing, working primarily on the Brazil and Haiti readers. “My experience with the Press was wonderful. I felt like I really got to know the publishing process intimately. I’m also much more versed in questions of intellectual property now. I can imagine all of this being important insight if I get the opportunity to publish my own research.” She hopes to become a professor.

Curious fact about Anna: “Besides Spanish and Portuguese, I also know some Papiamentu (a creole language spoken in the Netherlands Antilles) and Kriolu (a creole language spoken in Cabo Verde).”

Duke University Press Sponsors ACRL awards for librarians working in Women’s and Gender Studies

acrl_1Duke University Press is pleased to announce its sponsorship of two achievement awards through the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), Women and Gender Studies Section (WGSS). The Significant Achievement Award and the Career Achievement Award will be presented at the 2018 American Library Association (ALA) annual meeting this week.

Significant Achievement Award

Shirley Lew, dean of library, teaching, and learning services at Vancouver Community College and Baharak Yousefi, head of library communications at Simon Fraser University, are the winners of the 2018 ACRL WGSS Award for Significant Achievement in Women and Gender Studies Librarianship.

This award, honoring a significant or one-time contribution to women and gender studies librarianship, was presented to Lew and Yousefi for their book, Feminists Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership. Feminists Among Us makes explicit the ways in which a grounding in feminist theory and practice impacts the work of library administrators who identify as feminists. Award chair Dolores Fidishun lauds the book as “a seminal review of the intersection of feminism, power, and leadership in our profession.”

Career Achievement Award

Diedre Conkling, director of the Lincoln County Library District, is the winner of the 2018 ACRL WGSS Award for Career Achievement.

This award, honoring significant long-standing contributions to women and gender studies in the field of librarianship over the course of a career, was presented to Conkling for her work as a longtime member of the WGSS, Feminist Task force, the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship, and the Library Leadership and Management Association Women’s Administrator’s Discussion Group.

“Conkling has continuously brought women’s issues to the forefront of our organization,” Fidishun states, “and has served as an inspiration and mentor to many of us in the association. Through her activism she has demonstrated the power of women’s voices in ALA and in the world, always asking the important questions and looking for ways to move women’s agendas forward in ALA.”

Congratulations to all winners!

About ACRL

The Association of College and Research Libraries is the higher education association for librarians. Representing nearly 10,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community.

About Duke University Press’s commitment to emerging fields

Duke University Press is committed to advancing the frontiers of knowledge and contributing boldly to the international community of scholarship, promoting a sincere spirit of tolerance and a commitment to learning, freedom, and truth. An early establisher of scholarship in queer theory, gender studies, and sexuality studies, Duke University Press is dedicated to supporting others who contribute to these fields.