Historians and Books vs. Journal Articles



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Chris Beneke, a contributor to RiAH, has written an interesting piece on history publishing and gauging scholarly output. (I just posted it at the HS blog.) Beneke zeroes in on the significance of book publishing vs journal publishing and asks some questions about how historians could or should measure the
weight of their work.

Chris Beneke, "The Journal Standard," The Historical Society, November 15, 2010

Historians are people of the book. We write piles of them—monographs, textbooks, and edited books, strictly academic books and books intended (usually with no foundation in reality) for the bestseller list. Some of our better books are histories of the book; some of our better historians are historians of the book. We cherish books dearly, not least for their narrative artistry. But we also value their utility within the academic world. At research universities and colleges with research aspirations, after all, the scholarly book serves as the elusive ticket to the vastly overrated world of the tenured, Associate Professor, and later to invitations to speak, comment, and publish still more books. . . .

In short, historians are producing, recognizing, and even celebrating work that runs sharply against the grain of research in other disciplines. To put it in the bluntest terms, we have a Book Standard; they have a Journal Standard. It’s not that we don’t value that other form of scholarly currency. We just don’t value it quite as much.>>>

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