UPNG Awarded NEH Grant

The University Press of North Georgia (UPNG) recently won a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Start-Up grant for $24,923. This NEH Level I funding supports the press’s exploring peer review processes for publishing born-digital book length scholarly monographs in the Humanities in order to encourage their support, acceptance, and use in academia.

Project participants from the North Georgia College & State University community are BJ Robinson, UPNG Director and NEH Grant Project Director; April Loebick, UPNG Managing Editor; Markus Hitz, Professor of Computer Sciences; Chris Jespersen, Dean of the School of Arts & Letters; and Denise Young, Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness. Other participants include the Directors of the University Press of Akron, the University Press of Florida, and Wayne State University Press. Advisory Board project members are Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association; Kathy Kiloh, Director of Athabasca University Press; Saskia deVries, Director of Amsterdam University Press; and members of the Open Textbook Consortium.

NEH Digital Start-Up grants are designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. Level I funding supports brainstorming sessions, data gathering, and initial planning. With this consortia of peers and publishing groups, UPNG will develop and pilot a model for peer review and eventual electronic publishing of single-author, digital monographs ; this model will involve sharing resources among small university presses to ensure economic viability and to help alleviate the pressures facing academic publishing. UPNG plans to seek NEH Digital Start-Up grant Level II funding for up to $50,000 in order to implement this collaborative model.

 BJ Robinson notes that “Our project will leverage the expertise available at small university presses and build their capacity to encourage more scholarly publishing in the humanities.”  Peer review intends to ensure quality scholarship and is therefore a crucial benchmark in the academic review process. It is one of the most important issues in digital humanities, as it potentially affects access to scholarly work and copyright. Large university presses, for various reasons, currently demonstrate reluctance to change and shift toward exploring revolutionizing options for pre- and post-publication peer review, especially as applied to digital monographs. A small press, like UPNG, can serve as a model to other, larger presses and hopefully thereby work toward a solution that will benefit the entire scholarly community, including scholars, university administrators, editors, librarians, and students.

Work on this Level I funded project begins in April 2012 with preliminary data gathering among the consortia. In September 2012, BJ Robinson will attend a planning meeting at the NEH offices in Washington, DC. All project participants will meet in Dahlonega for a November 2012 workshop. Work on the project will culminate in July 2013 with a dissemination of research findings and a white paper that will be posted on the NEH website.

For more information about this topic, please visit the University Press of North Georgia website at www.upng.org, call BJ at 706-864-2964, or email her at brobinson@northgeorgia.edu. Also, please feel free to call April Loebick at 706-864-1556, or email her at upng@northgeorgia.edu. The University Press of North Georgia’s mailing address is University Press of North Georgia, North Georgia College & State University, PO Box 5032, Dahlonega, GA 30597.