Post the Fourth, In Which I Digitally Archive Some Articles

Several months ago, I learned about Rice University’s Digital Scholarship Archive, an institutional repository where faculty members can store and share published and unpublished work online. Many universities now have such repositories, including the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and others. But as Shane Landrum (@cliotropic) recently suggested, I’m not sure history faculty are widely aware of these repositories. I know that without a tip from the great Lisa Spiro (@lisaspiro), I might not have learned of Rice’s DSA at all. But I’m glad I did, and here’s why and how I’ve posted some of my published work to the repository.

For me the advantages of putting my work online in this way are clear. One benefit is curatorial. By putting my work here I can be sure that professional librarians will regularly back up my files, as well as convert documents to newer file formats when old ones become obsolescent. Without any maintenance from me, I will know that my online scholarly works will have permanent URLs, ensuring that anyone wishing to use them can rely on a working link.

But the greatest benefit here is that I can provide more open access to many of my publications, which otherwise would hide in subscription-only databases like JSTOR and Project Muse. I can also provide copies of unpublished work like conference papers. Indeed, once deposited on the repository, such papers no longer become “unpublished” work. And this means that the work and research put into conference papers can be shared widely. I can solicit feedback and critiques of the works long after a conference has closed while simultaneously ensuring that my authorship is documented and in the public record.

That’s why I’ve decided to make use of the DSA. And here’s how I did it.

The process of putting my conference papers online was straightforward enough once I received an account on the repository. (To read these instructions, Rice faculty will need to log in.) I didn’t need to ask anyone’s permission to publish those. But in order to find out which published journal articles I have the right to put online, I had to do a very modest amount of additional investigation.

First, I browsed over to SHERPA/RoMEO. This is basically an online database of publishers’ policies concerning reproduction and copyright; it’s as easy as typing in a journal’s name to find out where its publisher stands on the digital archiving of articles. You can use SHERPA’s “color coded” key to get a quick sense of what rights a particular publisher gives to an author, but it’s best to closely read the restrictions each journal places on archiving or, better yet, to click through any link that is provided to the press’s own policy page. Some publishers allow the archiving of an author’s pre-print or post-print version of an article (i.e., a Microsoft Word or PDF version of the submitted manuscript), while others allow the archiving of an actual PDF file of the published article, with the copy-editing and formatting done by the press. And various journals attach restrictions to these permissions.

For example, by searching for the Journal of the Early Republic on RoMEO, I learned that I could put the Publisher’s Version/PDF of an article in Rice’s DSA, so long as I waited until 12 months after the article appeared and so long as I honored the Press’s request to credit them for the original publication. By clicking through the link provided to the University of Pennsylvania Press’s own page on its archive policies, I also found a set copyright notice that I was required to attach to the archived work. (Click here to see an image of what this actually looked like on RoMEO.)

I also learned that another article I published in American Quarterly could probably be put up, but that I should contact the publisher to check. I sent an email and heard back the next day that I could post it, along with a credit. I think it’s also a good idea (and a courtesy) to confirm RoMEO’s results by emailing even those publishers who don’t require an email, so I also wrote the JER to make sure I was reading the policy correctly. I easily found the relevant email addresses on both journals’ homepages, and it was also reassuring that the JER’s homepage contained a link to the same Press policies on “Self-Archiving and Digital Repositories” linked to by RoMEO.

In short, faculty interested in using Rice’s repository should not regard difficulty of use as a barrier; the couple of questions I had were quickly answered by librarians and/or RoMEO and my publishers. One additional thing I learned is that to make these links available to people off campus, the “https” in the URL needs to be changed to “http.” But now, with just a little bit of work, I have two of my published articles, my dissertation (which I have the copyright to), and most of my conference papers available on the DSA. Click on the link below to see the list:

Published, Peer-Reviewed Articles:

  • “Repealing Unions: American Abolitionists, Irish Repeal, and the Origins of Garrisonian Disunionism,” Journal of the Early Republic 28, no. 2 (2008), 243-269 (download)
  • “The Fourth and the First: Abolitionist Holidays, Respectability, and Radical Interracial Reform,” American Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2005), 129-151 (download)
  • My Dissertation:

  • “Our Country is the World: Radical American Abolitionists Abroad,” Ph.D diss., Johns Hopkins University, 2006 (download)
  • Conference Papers:

  • “What Counts as Radical Abolitionism? A Reconsideration of Recent Scholarship,” OAH Annual Meeting, Seattle, March 26-28, 2009 (download)
  • “Repealing Unions: American Abolitionists, Irish Repealers, and the Coming of the Civil War, 1842-1847,” AHA Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2006 (download)
  • “Our Country is the World: American Abolitionists, Louis Kossuth and Philanthropic Revolutions,” OAH Annual Meeting, Boston, March 25-28, 2004 (download)
  • “Haiti’s Usable Past: Violence, Anglophilia, and Antebellum American Abolitionists,” OIEAHC Ninth Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 6-8, 2003 (download)
  • Feedback on any of these works can be directed to me by email or in the comments below.


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    Offprints by Caleb McDaniel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

    3 thoughts on “Post the Fourth, In Which I Digitally Archive Some Articles

    1. Caleb,
      Thanks for explaining how and why to contribute to a digital repository like Rice’s so clearly. (And while I’m not sure that I deserve “great,” I sure am grateful to work with you.)

    2. Caleb,

      I’m a little late in posting this, for which I apologize. First, I agree with Lisa that this is a great post for showing how to publish one’s materials in an open access archive, and I definitely see the value thereof. (Or at least I think I do.)

      What worries me, though, is that I wonder whether others see the value. One of the rumblings/murmurs I hear from various quarters–some with more authority than others–is that editors of journals and books are leery of publishing something which has appeared in another format (even if in draft).

      So my question is, what concerns do you have about this issue, and how would you suggest dealing with them? I think this is a corollary to the discussion I hear every now and then about not publishing too much material in article form, lest a book editor decide the book manuscript won’t offer anything new.

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts as I (and others) figure out how to approach new technology in a framework that still valorizes more highly older forms.

    3. Thanks for your comments, Joe. I hesitate to give any definitive, generalizable advice here, not just because of the limits of my own knowledge but because academic publishers’ policies on this appear to be in a period of flux. The bits of news I’ve picked up on Digital Campus and elsewhere suggest that publishers outside of the humanities are already having to develop (or already have developed) policies regarding submissions that have been previously published online. This is because in disciplines like physics or mathematics or the natural sciences, there is already a premium placed on having research published as soon as possible, and so there are already discipline-wide repositories for e-prints like arXiv. So journals have had to accommodate this culture with new (and still changing) policies, as a quick Google search on the subject of prior publication generally confirms. There is less of a culture of rapid, online publishing in humanities, but I think there are signs of change in that area, too. (By the way, one larger, unrelated question worth asking is why, as humanists, we don’t follow other disciplines’ lead and generally encourage quick dissemination of our research; if something is worth publishing, isn’t it worth making it available to the field as soon as possible?)

      My main point is that in a situation you describe–of approaching an editor about publishing something that has been partially published online in a different form–I don’t think you’ll come across like a space alien for bringing the issue up. There are precedents in scholarly publishing, even if not yet any firm consensus about how this should be handled. To me that means that the “editors of journals and books” you refer to in your comment are not a monolith but likely have different views about this. For that reason my main thought (which is in keeping with the spirit of the post itself) is to investigate further if it concerns you–contact editors and publishers you might be interested in submitting unpublished work to in the future. Ask them specifically what they would do.

      If the policies that are being developed outside of the humanities are any guide, my sense is that most publishers would draw a distinction between a draft of a work or another form of a work (like a conference paper) and the final, definitive version of the work published in their journal–after copy-editing, peer-review, and editorial revision have taken place. I think that final, definitive version, which contains all of the value they have added to the publishing process, is the one that journals are most concerned will appear without proper crediting.

      At any rate, I think you’re right, too, that the technology here doesn’t change an issue that academic publishers have always confronted. Things they publish usually have entered the public sphere in some other way prior to publication, whether in dissertations, conference papers, or journal articles. Common practice shows that scholarship in these formats gets repurposed and republished in books all the time, but I think it’s also true that book publishers would be likely to blink at a manuscript that contains nothing else than exact or near-exact replicas of previously published, “definitive version” works. So you’re right: that caveat should be kept in mind as we decide what to publish, especially if publishing in journals and peer-reviewed presses is professionally important for us. But I think rather than making us hesitant to publish anything at all in open-access form, this caveat should make us careful about which things we publish. Most of all, it should also encourage us to ask specific questions of our publishers and editors, who in my experience are usually very happy to talk about these things. The worst that could happen when we ask is that we get a clear “no,” which would at least be a clear answer.