History dissertations under wraps

1 minute read

Via a reader, this article in the New York Times about the American Historical Association’s vote to recommend that newly-minted PhDs be allowed to hide their dissertations away: “Historians Seek a Delay in Posting Dissertations”.

And the way things are, he said, is that university presses are known to be skeptical about agreeing to publish a book when the Ph.D dissertation it is based on is readily available online.
If you want tenure at a university, you have to publish a book, he said. Its professional currency.
This term, embargo so common in how journalism doles out information in the digital age perhaps is evidence that some academics are learning from journalists: readers simply have less interest in old news, even old news about the British colonies.
The historical association, which is based in Washington and has 14,000 members, including high school teachers, government historians and university professors, was inspired to act, officials said, because of simmering concerns that institutions were moving to require that students work be shared freely.

This concept is so bizarre to me that I had to suspend disbelief to read it.

Seriously, so the AHA thinks that university presses would publish more history dissertations if they were kept secret, and that would promote the careers of </em>more young historians</em>? Let me just point out that this entire scheme depends on university presses publishing more books than they do now. And that the chief market for university press history books is university libraries