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Goals of Public Scholarship and HuMetrics are aligned

As illustrated in the examples contained in this OER, scholars are engaging wide-ranging communities in their work—as audiences, as partners, and as co-creators. The spirit of publicly engaged scholarship encompasses the goals of benefiting the public, advancing community life, and promoting the diversity and inclusivity of scholarship. Because it is values-based, this kind of work is aligned with the HuMetricsHSS project to develop metrics tailored to the ethical aims of participants.

Publicly engaged scholarship takes many forms—from, for example, a traditional monograph on the Pewabic pottery movement to a community-based platform supporting engagement with indigenous communities such as RavenSpace—and while publication is a significant part of publicly engaged scholarship, this effort entails much broader aspirations than scholarly knowledge production alone.

Because publicly engaged projects involve multiple partners and broad civic aims, they require a commitment to building relationships of trust, often over long periods of time. The centrality of relationships and shared values can pose challenges for scholars trying to meet the deadlines and expectations of an academic career, including publication.

When the partners in a publicly engaged project do decide to publish, they must consider the best platform and format for publications, as well as who owns and authors such works. Conventional scholarly formats and outlets like monographs and scholarly journals may support the scholarly partner’s career, while other forms and outlets like websites, exhibits, podcasts, non-scholarly books, and multimedia e-books may fulfill the project’s community aims more effectively. The existing publishing and academic evaluation processes need to develop new resources and rubrics to foster such work.

Such publications, in addition to serving the project’s own aims, can create resources and models for others engaged in publicly engaged work. They demonstrate the value of humanist approaches and genres to enhancing civic life, redressing wrongs, promoting democracy, and publicizing little-known histories, arts, lives, and more.

Libraries and librarians are important partners in publicly engaged projects. They can host in-person and virtual gatherings; offer tools and skills for creating digital and print project outputs; guide conversations about values, copyright, ownership, and privacy; explain and implement metadata to enhance discoverability or structure access according to community standards; facilitate approaches to book publishers; and provide information and options for sunsetting and preserving projects—and much more!

Values of publicly engaged scholarship and the evolution of the library are rooted in fairness, equity, accountability, transparency. Libraries and librarians, therefore, have a significant role to play in the design and creation of publicly engaged scholarship; this is where library ethics and publicly engaged scholarship align. Values are brought into the ethics conversation for librarians.

Libraries and library publishing services are essential to the development of values-based publishing models. As the demand for open publishing services continues to grow, the centrality of a values-based approach also increases in significance. And as the projects in this OER illustrate, the values of open publishing and publicly engaged scholarship are closely aligned1.

Poster presentation “Open Humanities: A Values-Based Approach” at 2021 OASPA Conference:

The HuMetricsHSS values sorter is a useful tool for aiding the partners in publicly engaged projects to articulate their shared values and set standards for evaluating whether they are achieving them. The values sorter can be used for many different kinds of projects, including but not limited to publishing.

One last word…

This OER provides a brief introduction to the complexities of publishing values-based, publicly engaged humanities projects and ways that librarians can contribute to them. We hope you will use the examples and the tools mentioned here, along with the resources listed in the next section, to deepen your knowledge of publicly engaged scholarship and how you can support scholars doing this work to gain faster and more effective forms of impact from what they are producing.

Browse the resources that we have collated in the next section. And if you have comments about this version of the OER or ideas for what you would like to see added, please let us know!

  1. See: Burton, Kath; Cocks, Catherine; Kennison, Rebecca; Ruttenberg, Judy: “Open Humanities: A Values-Based Approach.” OASPA Conference, 2021 []

This OER was supported by a grant from the Scholarly Communication Notebook.

Last updated 2023-04-21.