As Acquisitions Editor, my role is to find valuable projects, review them, and guide authors in developing them to their final form. My core concerns in this process are scholarly merit and intellectual integrity.
While we require projects to make a contribution to scholarship along the same lines as monographs, that is, advancing complex arguments, we are agnostic to format. Because of that, we are actually in the business of developing a new genre–or new genres. For each project, the form follows the content.
This approach is unusual, and it means that even though there is a wealth of exciting projects out there, they haven’t usually been built out to the extent that they can be reviewed immediately.
I spend a lot of time finding projects with potential and working with authors to develop them, review them, and complete them for production.
What I have found is that digital projects are often thought of as part of the research phase for scholars, while they plan to write about them in traditional, established formats. However, I believe strongly in the merit of directing the audience to only one place, where the computational analysis and theoretical framework are presented together.
Because this approach is unique, I spend a lot of time finding projects with potential and working with authors to develop them, review them, and complete them for production. It’s gratifying to see that scholars are jumping on the opportunity to work with us. The one trick is to catch them at the right moment, when they (you!) are still flexible enough to consider this different way of doing things, but are far enough advanced so we can get to work immediately.
Despite the enthusiasm we encounter, researchers are also often apprehensive. We are currently the only ones doing this kind of publishing, and anyone deciding to go this route will be putting a lot of time and effort into something that still needs to be formally accepted. Should we reject something because it doesn’t pass muster with peer reviewers, or with our editorial standards, there currently isn’t anyone else they could submit their project to.
But rather than make this dearth sound depressing, I’d like to turn it into an invitation to other presses. We’re happy to discuss what it takes to publish this way in more detail, and we’ve begun to do so on this blog, but for now, let me say, even as someone without the American propensity for optimism, it’s worth it.
Friederike Sundaram is Acquisitions Editor for Digital Projects at Stanford University Press. She is responsible for building the program by acquiring and commissioning projects across the humanities and social sciences.