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… article on the front page of the New York Times about the slow but steady acceptance of a far better model of disseminating and evaluating scholarly work than antediluvian peer review.

Excerpts:

… [T]he prestigious 60-year-old Shakespeare Quarterly … [has embarked] on an uncharacteristic experiment in the forthcoming fall issue — one that will make it …the first traditional humanities journal to open its reviewing to the World Wide Web.

Mixing traditional and new methods, the journal posted online four essays not yet accepted for publication, and a core group of experts — what Ms. Rowe called “our crowd sourcing” — were invited to post their signed comments on the Web site MediaCommons, a scholarly digital network. In the end 41 people made more than 350 comments, many of which elicited responses from the authors. The revised versions were then reviewed by the quarterly’s editors, who made the final decision to include them in the printed journal, due out Sept. 17.

… Today a small vanguard of digitally adept scholars is rethinking how knowledge is understood and judged by inviting online readers to comment on books in progress, compiling journals from blog posts and sometimes successfully petitioning their universities to grant promotions and tenure on the basis of non-peer-reviewed projects.

… In some respects scientists and economists who have created online repositories for unpublished working paper like repec.org have more quickly adapted to digital life. Just this month, mathematicians used blogs and wikis to evaluate a supposed mathematical proof in the space of a week — the scholarly equivalent of warp speed.

In the humanities, in which the monograph has been king, there is more inertia. “We have never done it that way before,” should be academia’s motto, said Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a professor of media studies at Pomona College.

… [T]he debates happening on the site Sociologica.mulino.it “are defined as being frontier knowledge even though they are not peer reviewed,” [commented one scholar.] …

Exciting, cutting-edge stuff.

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