an update – dissertation and job

Greetings, devoted blog readers! You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while. Well, that’s because the following things have happened:

I defended my dissertation successfully on March 8th! Yay! You can now call me Doctor.

I did livestream my defense, but the videos are in pieces and I need to put them together; if you’re interested, my presentation is available as a Prezi here. I’m thinking about recording a narration of my defense to put with my Prezi, since that’s a new capability of the tool. Thoughts?

In addition to that, I have been doing revisions on the manuscript and will be submitting it soon. Once it’s available, I’ll get you all the link.

The other thing is that I have obtained employment! In February I started work as an Electronic Publications Associate with the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh. The many reasons for this move to a staff-type position are for another blog post, but let me tell you that basically I am making a commitment to a cause that is very important to me: freedom of information and access to scholarly work. For this position, I work in the Office of Scholarly Communication and Publishing, learning all about online journal publication and open access. I have learned a lot about licensing, copyright, ethics, and administration. This is a whole  new world for me, and there’s a LOT more to learn. Fortunately, I am surrounded by intelligent and experienced people in this office who take the time to explain things to me when I don’t understand.

Open Access Linguistics

One of the things I’ve become increasingly interested in over time is Open Access scholarship. Open Access is, according to Peter Suber,

Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder.
Open Access is compatible with copyright, peer review, revenue (even profit), print, preservation, prestige, quality, career-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.

Basically, OA means that anyone should be able to view the products of scholarly research. So much of academic work is dependent on people outside of academia — grants supported by taxpayer funds, or salaries paid for by student tuition and government subsidies, or individual donations — and yet most of these people will have to pay outrageous fees just to read a single article.

I hadn’t really thought about OA until I attended a few events held at my university, and until a relative told me how much one of my papers cost to read ($19.95 for an 8-page squib in the Journal of Pragmatics).  I had a lot of commonly-held misbeliefs about OA publications — for instance, that OA means no peer review (this is absolutely not true, most OA journals I’ve come across have as rigorous a peer review process as other journals).

I’ve been reading about Open Access in Anthropology via the Savage Minds blog, which has gotten me to thinking about the state of OA in Linguistics. As such, I’ve started to poke around to see what I can learn.

The Linguistic Society of America has the eLanguage program, a series of journals that are open access and online-only. They currently have nine journals available and a set of archives and conference proceedings. I think this is a great thing for OA Linguistics, especially since individuals can propose their own journals to be hosted in the eLanguage system. I am particularly interested in Dialogue and Discourse, myself.

Beyond the LSA, the Directory of Open Access Journals has listings for 196 journals in the Linguistics field that are Open Access. Many of these are quite specific fields, and a substantial portion are from outside the United States and in languages other than English. There are a whole bunch of journals here that I’ve actually heard of, but particularly notable ones for me are Language@Internet and Signs – International Journal of Semiotics.

Following the development of OA scholarship is interesting, as I believe this is one of the biggest changes that will happen in the academy in the coming years. I’d be interested in hearing others’ experiences with OA, and how OA scholarship is viewed in your department.