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Humanist Archives: Oct. 6, 2021, 7:34 a.m. Humanist 35.281 - publishing & academic predicaments

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 281.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-10-06 06:23:28+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: academic predicaments

John Whitfield's "Replication crisis - shoddy papers" in the current
issue of the London Review of Books (7 October) begins with and mostly
focuses on problems in the natural sciences. Indeed, one wonders if it
even occurred to the author that 'research' happens outside these
sciences. The word 'humanities' is not mentioned once. But much of what
is described will be recognisable by most if not all of us -- the
problems of getting published, the push to publish before one is ready,
the tenuous appointments that depend on and drive all this. Yes,
indeed, as the author writes, something must be done. Is it not up to
the senior people among us to do what we can?

Not long ago, on Humanist, our Oxford colleague David Zeitlyn wrote
about hurling books across the room, or something like that. I'm afraid
I am not so demonstrative. I merely put the
should-not-have-been-published (with OUP, CUP or any other) books in a
shopping trolly that I take to the local charity shop every once in a
while. And these are not cheap things, these shoddy productions
immaculately produced. Sure, online accessibility to books, legal or
otherwise, helps in one respect, indeed greatly, while in another it
allows the weak-willed, like me, to flood oneself with things that get
filed away and forgotten -- and provide no such book-flinging pleasures.

Publish less, please. I'd say, stop advertising one's latest, if it not
for the fact that this flood of intellectual detrius will, if one does
(I fear), obscure the good stuff, which is abundant too...


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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