Document lifecycles and fluid publication

Traditionally, once a book was published, there was little you could do to change its content afterwards. Works in linguistics which see a second edition are few and far between. The most you could hope for is a sheet of errata distributed with the book itself. One consequence of this was, incidentally, that many works were withheld for a long time to make sure they were absolutely perfect before releasing them to the printer’s, which would make the content immutable.

Errata. CC-BY-SA Sage Ross.

With electronic publication, things are different. The publication of a new version is comparatively cheap. In this blogpost, I will detail the lifecycle of a document at Language Science Press and show how we work together with PaperHive to get the document from the initial stage to the first (and subsequent) editions. At the end, I will put this approach into a wider perspective on academic publishing.

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Community proofreading queue

As of now, there have been 212 expressions of interest to publish with Language Science Press. In the beginning, the time between one book publication and the next was rather long, but now we have a number of parallel projects which requires some scheduling.

An important part of our workflow is community proofreading. We send out chapters of to-be-published books to community members interested in the topic. These community members then proof the chapter and return the corrections. Their contributions are listed in our Hall of Fame.

The proofreading phase is currently 4 weeks. But our output will be more than 1 book/month in the very near future. This means that we will have several books in proofreading at the same time. The following is a list of upcoming projects and the projected order in which they will reach proofreading. The order is basically first-come first-serve, i.e. when a books is ready, we send it out for proofreading. We might deviate from that in order to ensure a mix of books. For instance, we currently have 4 Africanist books. We add some other books in between to balance the topics.

The current queue is given below. Time between one book and the next should be two weeks:

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