Contribute to The Scholar Electric

Editorial Guidelines

Working with open deadlines hasn’t been an ineffective editorial practice for us so far. We’re still resistant to assigning hard deadlines to projects, though—at least in the beginning stages of working with an author. We want to offer another way of working. Something more involved than the open-query, accept, assign-deadline, and publish model. Instead, we’re hoping to engage a little more closely with the work of individual authors. We might suggest some specific projects that we, as editors and blog readers, would like to help you develop. Or you might have some ideas already brewing that you’re ready to pursue. Or maybe you’ve only got that kernel of an idea and you’d like some feedback/suggestons about how you might pursue it. Or maybe there’s a certain type of text at which you’d like to take a stab. We can start the conversation pretty much anywhere and find a project that gets us all excited.

Some of the editorial adjectives we’re hoping to foster include:

  • Timely. One of the possible benefits of digital publication is a compressed publication timeline. Maybe you’d like to respond to an article from CCC just released last week, or something posted on The Scholar Electric recently. Or maybe a recent press release relevant to our disciplinary conversation. We’re hoping to figure out how an academic blog can be “responsive” in a way that other academic publishing venues can’t be.
  • Constructive. Maybe you wanna put in a good word about some text you’ve encountered. Maybe you want to defend a text/author in response to some criticism you see as irresponsible or unwarranted. We’d like to encourage that sort of support environment.
  • Instructive. Put yourself in the service of your fellow scholars. Offer an idea about how to make better digital texts. Offer a teaching tip. Notice something in a digital text that you think other people might miss. Help make The Scholar Electric into resource that contributes to our discipline in a way that other publications haven’t yet addressed.
  • Revealing. Not in a tabloid sense. Ugh. But in a scholar-behind-the-curtain sort of sense. A way of helping to make visible the types of academic labor that digital scholars do. Or to help other scholars understand some of the fundamentals or subtleties of digital textual production.
  • Cross-Disciplinary. Make connections between texts–sure that’s a given. But we would also like to help bring non-disciplinary texts into our conversations, as well as using some of our conversations to help understand what’s going on in related fields

And here are some of the ways we’re hoping to be a bit more flexible than traditional modes of publication:

  • Length. Make it as long as you’d like, or as short as you’d like. For whatever reasons you think are appropriate. Your text is short because it’s only the kernel of an idea? Great! Or it’s short because you simply don’t have the time? Fine, we can accept that reality. Is it long because you developed the idea, but abandoned it, and you’re not sure you want to invest the time in paring it down? That’s fine, too, but we might actually offer some of our “assistance” to help pare it down for you (with your permission, of course).
  • Technologies. Would you like to embed a series of tweets in order to demonstrate something? We can help you do that. How ’bout a Prezi? Good. Want help producing an interactive timeline? Just let us know. Or maybe you’re interested in a technology that’s still pretty new, whose future is still very much in doubt (yeah, we’re looking at you, Flash). Don’t worry about it. You want to embed a Storify story? A SoundCloud player? A Twitter feed? A TimeGlider timeline? Seriously, don’t worry about it. We would hate to think that a great idea or contribution goes unshared merely because it’s archive-challenged. New technologies won’t likely be archive-friendly unless we produce work and texts which compel/demand their own maintained accessibility. And it’s okay if they disappear. It’s an inescapable risk Given the exponential rate of technological development, it’s possibly even inevitable.
  • Style. Formal, conversational, lyrical, vulgar, sarcastic. We can work with almost anything. Feel free to write something off-the-cuff. Or keep it disciplined and formal. Use whatever jargon you need to. Clarify what you want, or don’t. This is the interwebs, people; readers can Google it. Need to quote some objectionable content? We’ll entertain the necessity. Challenge us. Or write something beautiful.

A (Working) List of Possible Contribution Types:

  • A standard blog post. Pretty much anything you’d like to write about. Possibilities might include, but certainly aren’t limited to: responding to a journal text you’ve read recently; responding to a relevant recent blog post; responding to a conference presentation you’ve recently attended; a summary of a conference paper you’ve presented recently; a revisiting of one of your earlier texts or conference presentations, a book review, etc.
  • A multi-text conversation. Engage someone of your choice (i.e. me, Tim, or anyone else) you think might challenge, or contribute to an idea you’re working on or interested it. This type of conversational strategy could take the form of a series of video, blog posts, or audio texts. As opposed to an interview, a multi-text conversation would be less structured and more asynchronous.
  • An interview. Pretty standard fare here. Possibly an interview between you and me or you and Tim (I risk volunteering him without his knowledge; I gotta tread lightly). Or maybe you interview someone else. Might be an audio interview, a skype interview, an interview via email, or whatever else you think might be interesting.
  • A digital story. Conceptualize this one anyway you’d like. Possible ideas: literacy narrative; a scholarship-contextualized definition piece; a teaching narrative; etc.
  • A teaching contribution. Where you offer, explain, and advise on an assignment (or sequence) you’ve worked with in the past, or one you’re thinking of assigning soon. Here, I’m hoping to challenge contributors to contextualize or reflect on their assignments in terms of relevant scholarship.
  • A literature review. Best case scenario is that a literature review, framed as a blog post, would be extremely focused and limited in scope. I’m thinking 3-6 texts would be great. Maybe a mix of older and more recent scholarship. Maybe a mix of canonical or well-known texts.
  • A close reading of a digital text. The idea here is to demonstrate some possible reading strategies for a given digital text. You might offer some commentary along the way. I’m guessing some sort of screen-capture strategy would work well here. (Jing is free, but very difficult to edit; Camtasia is expensive, but free for thirty days, and is incredibly powerful.
  • A “Scholar’s Commentary” on a digital/MM text you’ve published. Sort of a “director’s commentary” for digital scholarly texts. The amounts of labor necessary for producing digital scholarship is often not immediately apparent to most readers. A text explaining or recounting the composing process and/or some of the technologies you employed in the production of one of your texts could be valuable to the digital-scholarly community.
  • Something else. Description provided by you.
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