Planned Obsolescence: The University

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s final section, she tackles the “unstable economic model” that university publishing operates under (155). The university press unfortunately is in a strange state of limbo where they operate for the university and are subsidized by the university, but also serve a purpose outside the university. She’s aware that this section of hers would easily be subject to the most scrutiny, because most of what she goes over is speculative. Besides going into costs and the history, she offers a few different models under which a new university press system could operate. However, she’s aware of the scale of what she’s trying to promote, understanding that it’s a “broad reconsideration of the press’s relationship to the institution’s core mission” (172). Commercial press organizations exist on a different playing field where funding and business occurs under the auspices of conglomerates. The university press for Fitzpatrick needs to move out of this state of limbo, and be a cornerstone of just the advancement of knowledge under the university.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 One example that she gives in regards to changing the entire “Game” of publishing is moving to a more open-access model (160). In doing so, publishers have been reaching towards Open Journal Systems where everything is streamlined, and the system is cost effective (to not neglect economic realities). An initiative outside the university publishing system that I immediately thought of was the MLA CORE system. The CORE system is an example of a repository in which any user can submit work (either peer reviewed, dissertations, theses, works in progress, etc.) free of charge. The writer remains the owner of the work and the system is completely open access. However, the MLA operates under different cost constraints and is subject to a different economic model. But if the university press was subsidized more, this could be an example of how another open-access model could operate: on a user submission basis for the sharing of information.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Fitzpatrick also poses the current state of a lot of science publishing where there’s an “author pays” model. Related to this, nature.com (science repository) talks about how there can be a sustainable model where high-cost, low circulation models can accept author-pay while high circulation models can exist with a subscription model. Nature featured this as an entire section on their website dealing with access models for scientific journals. However, this isn’t compatible with notions towards a more accessible model, considering that the humanities aren’t funded as well as STEM fields.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The important shift that’s being highlighted is definitely one that favors digital over print. However, this doesn’t mean that print should be rendered obsolete; the digital model just provides more of a steady foundation on which the press could operate, especially for the humanities. One example Fitzpatrick uses is the Mellon-funded NYU Press initiative which looks to add investments in digital experimentation where works exist as a corpus rather than be individualized. Labor costs will still exist under this model, but less so than under a solely print-text distribution model (164).  

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Obviously recent developments lead to the fact that the current model of the university press’ funding is unsustainable. Of course you have donation initiatives like the Stanford Authors Fund looking to redirect the course of economic income, but the system does need to change. Though I can go on even more, the whole change of the university press publishing system is still in the debates phase – it definitely could have its own book.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Sources

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “The University.” Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York UP, 2011. 155-87. Print.


Source: https://dhpraxisfall16.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2016/10/30/planned-obsolescence-the-university/

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