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Guest article: Inclusion in Scholarly Practice

Guest article

Written by Karin Wulf, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and William & Mary

It’s exciting to see COPE stepping forward to help identify ethical issues confronting scholarly publishing in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Because so much of the scholarly publishing infrastructure is still focused on STEM journals, it’s vital that we better understand how a very different spectrum of disciplines is confronting some new challenges—and some of the same, old challenges newly revealed. In so many aspects of our world we need to be thinking with the very tools that AHSS puts at our disposal, and in ways that will benefit our colleagues in STEM fields as well.  

Inclusion is not only about the who of our inquiry and practice, it’s also about the how and the what – and AHSS scholars have been thinking about these issues from the vantage of our scholarship for decades. Some of the same perspectives we have brought to bear, for example, on the legacies of colonialism as they pertain to higher education, are also reflected in research and publication. We can query the way we structure our research. What materials constitute evidence in our fields, and why? And we can better interrogate how the premises of our findings may also reflect bias. Why have we framed issues and even fields the way we have?

Looking at these factors also helps us to get to question of who is included. In my own discipline of history, for example, we have seen how expertise is often cast (sometimes literally cast, as for panels or media interviews) as white and male. Two years ago Keisha Blain, Emily Prifogle and I co-founded, a fully searchable website where scholars build profiles and editors, peers, and journalists can find women experts. Over 3,600 women historians have profiles on the site, and the traffic there and on our social media (follow us @womnknowhistory!) is heavy. It’s used regularly when conferences organizers seek keynote speakers or panelists, editors are seeking peer reviewers, and, increasingly, when producers or reporters are seeking media background or commentary.

The potential for AAHS to model new paths is profound, and I’m looking forward to the way that COPE and others can help us indicate best practices for scholarly communications across fields and disciplines. 

Karin Wulf, Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture and William & Mary