Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mellon Foundation Essay of Scholarly Publishing Initiatives

Scholarly Publishing Initiatives

2007 Annual Report

Donald J. Waters
Program Officer for Scholarly Communications

Joseph S. Meisel
Program Officer for Higher Education

In 2007, the Scholarly Communications and Research University and Humanistic Scholarship programs collaborated in launching two new initiatives in the area of scholarly publishing, one aimed at increasing the capacity of university presses to publish first books by junior scholars in fields where publication opportunities have become constrained, the other at strengthening the substantive relationship between university presses and their home institutions. These initiatives are described in greater detail in the President’s Report (on pages 16 and 22). This essay is intended to provide some background by focusing on the factors that prompted staff to direct Foundation resources in these particular ways. It begins with an overview of the conditions under which scholarly publishing is currently carried out in university presses. This summary is followed by a brief outline of historical concerns about the role and functions of university presses and a discussion of previous Foundation efforts to support scholarly publishing. Finally, this essay turns to the two new initiatives and considers their objectives in the broader context outlined in the previous two sections.

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