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The Book as Social Form: On the Value of Peer-Review and Editorial Critique

July 22nd, 2013 by David Michalski

As the information environment shifts, and new publishing opportunities are presented to researchers, librarians and scholars planning on how to move forward need to reflect on the relationship between the research library, the scholar/author, and the functions of the academic press.

Having sheparded to publication some of the most remarkable academic books of recent years, Ken Wissoker, the editorial director at Duke University Press, is in a good position to explain the added-value the academic press provides to this relationship. And in an insightful blog post, he does just that, focusing on the work behind the scenes that has helped to make Duke University Press as successfull as it has become.

In a world a-buzz over the technologies of self-publishing and research data repositories, Wissoker reminds us of the importance peer review and editorial guidance have on the shape of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. Questioning arguments which herald the demise of university press book, he articulates a key difference between a report on one’s research and the proper work of the book.

Publication in the humanities and social sciences isn’t the reporting of research. It’s the production of a compelling argument, based on a combination of research and interpretation.”

By drawing our attention to this process, Wissoker contributes to a wider critique of an industry that too often sees knowledge as the direct result of the exchange of information, and libraries and publishers simply as the machinery of information transfer. By opening up the labor of the editorial and review process, he reveals the social form of the book. Rather than seeing it simply as a physical or digital vessel for content, one that serves as an obstacle between the reader and her or his access to pure research, the book is reimagined as dialogue between facts, interpretations and critical arguments, a conversation that is aided by the work of external reviewers and editors. In this light, the best books in the humanities and social sciences, not only transport facts, but take the reader through the construction of those facts by unfolding both the research process and the relationships which affect its trajectory.

Wissoker’s argument in favor of a broader recognition of the social relationships of knowledge production may positively influence the way we imagine libraries too. It may help us to better organize the information environment of tomorrow by bringing into focus one the library’s most essential roles, its function as a generator and facillitator of compelling arguments.

See Ken Wissoker’s article posted on Scholarly Kitchen here:

For more of Ken Wissoker’s thoughts, see the interviews Adeline Koh has conducted with him for the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “On Monographs, Libraries and Blogging”. See:

We don’t have a price problem, we have a cost problem.

May 8th, 2013 by Michael Winter

Read Richard Poynder’s excellent and thoughtful article on how large research libraries have been receiving their journal content in the form of huge all-inclusive provider-based bundles (the “big deal’ model so loved by the big providers has however not proved to be such a good deal for anyone else). And if you think “Open Access” is the solution to the problem, you should read what the author has to say about that as well.

Open Access in the News

March 18th, 2013 by David Michalski

Lately, it seems like Open Access (OA) has been in the news a lot:

* Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR)
* The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
* University of California Proposed Open Access Policy

Want to find out more about Open Access? What does it mean? Why do we care about it? What support exists for authors who want to publish OA?

UC Davis Librarians have created a new topic guide to help answer some of your questions about Open Access:

Questions or Comments?

Contact: Amy Studer | | (530) 752-1678

First English translation of Hubert Fichte’s Forschungsbericht

March 11th, 2013 by Michael Winter

Adam Siegel, a librarian in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Government Information Department of Shields Library, has just published the first installment of his translation of Forschungsbericht (Research Report), an ethnographic nonfiction novel by the German writer Hubert Fichte (1935-1986). The initial selection and its sucessors will appear in serial form in the pages of InTranslation. Read the initital installment at:

BBC News Item on the Crisis of Book Publishing

February 4th, 2013 by Michael Winter

From the article: “The printed book risks going the way of the cuneiform tablet, papyrus scroll or vellum parchment, say the doomsayers….but despite the huge growth in e-books in the past few years, the traditional publishing houses are not yet predicting the end of printed book.

In fact, figures for 2012 show that while e-book sales are still on the rise, the rate of decline in print sales has actually slowed.”

Historians Question Sustainability of Open Access in the Humanities

September 24th, 2012 by David Michalski

_Inside Higher Education_ article questions whether the Humanities will prosper within Open Access publishing models developed in the sciences.

Not So Fast on ‘Open Access’
September 24, 2012
By Scott Jaschik

Pew Center study of readers of ebooks

May 1st, 2012 by Michael Winter

Pew study finds that “librarians and library websites” are the two places contemporary readers are the least likely to seek reading recommendations.  Story, data, graphics, etc., at:

Social Psychology of Facebook

February 9th, 2012 by David Michalski

The California Aggie published a news story by Kelsie Ozamiz (from Ohio State University’s The Lantern) on the psychology of Facebook users. “Facebook affects happiness, study says” (2/9/2012). The article cites this study from the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking:

“They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am”: The Impact of Using Facebook on Perceptions of Others’ Lives

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge and. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. doi:10.1089/cyber.2011.0324.


Facebook, as one of the most popular social networking sites among college students, provides a platform for people to manage others’ impressions of them. People tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their Facebook profile. This research examines the impact of using Facebook on people’s perceptions of others’ lives. It is argued that those with deeper involvement with Facebook will have different perceptions of others than those less involved due to two reasons. First, Facebook users tend to base judgment on examples easily recalled (the availability heuristic). Second, Facebook users tend to attribute the positive content presented on Facebook to others’ personality, rather than situational factors (correspondence bias), especially for those they do not know personally. Questionnaires, including items measuring years of using Facebook, time spent on Facebook each week, number of people listed as their Facebook “friends,” and perceptions about others’ lives, were completed by 425 undergraduate students taking classes across various academic disciplines at a state university in Utah. Surveys were collected during regular class period, except for two online classes where surveys were submitted online. The multivariate analysis indicated that those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook “friends” agreed more that others had better lives.

The University Library subscribes to this journal, and collects in this area in the service of growing interest among faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates examining the social and psychological life of internet users.

Other journals covering this subject include:

New Media & Society

Computers in Human Behavior

Information, Communication & Society


Social Science Computer Review

Some recent books include:

The Oxford handbook of Internet psychology / edited by Adam N. Joinson … [et al.].
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2007.
Shields Library HM1017 .O94 2007 Regular Loan

Psychological aspects of cyberspace : theory, research, applications / edited by Azy Barak.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Shields Library HM1017 .P79 2008 Regular Loan

The social net : understanding human behavior in cyberspace / edited by Yair Amichai-Hamburger.
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2005.
Shields Library HM1017 .S62 2005 Regular Loan

Newslore : contemporary folklore on the Internet / Russell Frank.
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2011.
Call no. Shields Library PS439 .F73 2011 Regular Loan

The Internet in everyday life / edited by Barry Wellman and Caroline Haythornthwaite.
Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., 2002.
Shields Library HM851 .I58 2002 Regular Loan

iPolitics : citizens, elections, and governing in the new media era / [edited by] Richard L. Fox, Jennifer M. Ramos.
New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Shields Library JK1764 .I75 2012 At UC Bindery

The net delusion : the dark side of internet freedom / Evgeny Morozov.
New York : Public Affairs, c2011.

Media perspectives for the 21st century / edited by Stylianos Papathanassopoulos.
Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2011.
Shields Library P90 .M3679 2011 Regular Loan

Lanier, Jaron.
You are not a gadget : a manifesto / Jaron Lanier.
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Shields Library HM851 .L358 2010 Regular Loan

Facebook and philosophy : what’s on your mind? / edited by D.E. Wittkower.
Chicago : Open Court, c2010.
Shields Library HM742 .F33 2010 Regular Loan

Computer-mediated communication in personal relationships / edited by Kevin B. Wright & Lynne M. Webb.
New York : Peter Lang, c2011.
Shields Library HM742 .C65 2011 Regular Loan

The tuning of place : sociable spaces and pervasive digital media / Richard Coyne.
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2010.
Shields Library QA76.5915 .C695 2010 Regular Loan

Interested in researching scholarly material on the social and psychological aspects of online social networks? Contact Social and Cultural Studies Librarian, David Michalski

College Students Use of Kindle Reader

May 3rd, 2011 by Michael Winter

Research findings from systematic, in depth study of Kindle-based ebook usage in higher education.

Picking up the pieces: aftermath of Google Books decision

April 25th, 2011 by Michael Winter

Robert Darnton has an idea of how to go from where, now that Google Books has been sidelined.  See David Zax, “Google’s Digital Library Failed–Can Academics Succeed?”  Fast Company Monday April 4, 2011.