Where possible and appropriate, I believe we should work hard to make our academic work as collaboratively as possible, and as accessible and readable as is feasible. This ambition relates to where and how we research as well as how we publish our work. It still applies even if we are dealing with specialist and detailed academic topics.
Now, I concede this isn’t always possible, however, and academics must balance up the demands of quality and venue in different fashions for each project they work on: blog-post, journal article, book chapter, edited collection or monograph. Moreover, many, including me, still value the print editions of many books for reading and research. I still work with my own book collection alongside older photocopies and scans as well as e-publications of different kinds. Likewise, some of our work ends up being single-authored. Yet it is important to say that ‘prestigious’ publishers don’t often serve academics well in terms of production or marketing. Equally, they don’t always facilitate co-production and collaboration. Consequently, I feel we should try to avoid ‘easy’ or well-trodden routes to publication in order to make our work accessible to different audience.
At the start of the year, I announced here the publication of the edited collection from the first University of Chester Archaeology student conference with Equinox press. I’ve recently announced the publication of the second! For this latest co-edited book, with Dr Caroline Pudney and Afnan Ezzeldin – Public Archaeology: Arts of Engagement – Archaeopress have facilitated the best of all worlds in my view. The cover-price isn’t cheap, but it is competitively priced for a substantial 269 pages with many colour illustrations throughout. Moreover, it is fully downloadable from the Archaeopress website as part of their Access Archaeology series as a pdf here. Why not read about the Access Archaeology publication model.
Here’s me proudly in possession of a physical copy, with my happy horned helmeted Viking warriors over my left shoulder!
I’d like to add another point: Archaeopress were happy to trust my oversight over the editorial and peer-review process and allow me to include undergraduates’ research and editorial input in the publication. This was something other publishers were clear they wouldn’t entertain.
So I feel I can stand by this new book as a great example of how we should all be trying to publish as accessibly as possible and incorporating student research into our scholarly outputs.
The down-side of this model is that it relied on me, as a relatively experienced editor, but of course with help from my co-editors, to oversee the production process from evaluating manuscripts and organising peer-review, through to careful content-editing and copy-editing. Moreover, the only way this model works is for me to have typeset the book for us, although with invaluable guidance from Archaeopress. So yes, it’s possible to do this without a significant grant to support this model, but I accept it isn’t for everyone as this was a phenomenal amount of work. Having said that, I learned a great deal in the process. Given the subject: how we use art/archaeology engagements – and hence the content needed to include practitioners as well as theorists, and especially it required a free rein on the number of illustrations and the use of colour.
In summary, I’m very pleased and proud of this book, not only for its contents, but for the range of authorial contributions, including students who presented at the 2nd University of Chester Archaeology Student Conference. I’m particularly proud also to have worked with my good colleague Caroline and former student Afnan who took up the challenge of co-editing with me. Here’s Afnan and me at her after her graduation ceremony in November 2017 in silly hats.