Books and series
In 2019, we published 30 books:
78 works were proposed to Language Science Press in 2019, for a total of 503. In 2017, 101 works had been proposed.
Edited volumes are an important type of publication in linguistics, and Language Science Press has published about 50 edited volumes up to now. However, the time to publication is normally an issue for edited volumes given the larger number of contributors. In a project with 12 contributors, chances are that at least one of them will not hand in the chapter, the revision or the proofs in time, which delays the whole project.
This leads to a vicious circle: everybody knows that probably the volume will be late anyway, so authors adjust their priorities and focus on some other work where the timing is more critical. Which delays the work even more, so everybody adjusts their priorities again and so on. When I was still actively publishing as a linguist, I had a paper in a volume which took 5 years to come out!
This whole problem arises because the book and all its chapters will only be published once the last chapter is in. Otherwise, page numbers cannot be assigned and cross-references will not work.
Our series Open Slavic Linguistics was unhappy with this state of affairs and suggested that book chapters can be published ahead of the volume, as so-called prepublications. This means that all chapters which have been reviewed, revised, proofread, and typeset can be made available on our website. The setup of our LaTeX class allows to compile the same chapter either individually or as part of a book. As for the pagination problem, we simply set the page numbers to roman and add a note to the footer that the page numbering is preliminary. That way, readers are not led to mistakenly cite Smith (2020: 12) for a chapter which will have a final pagination much higher than 12.
Larry, you have authored altogether 7 chapters in 5 LangSci books in 4 different series (see list below). That sounds very versatile! Can you give us some background on those chapters and what ties them together?
Yes, I guess you could say that my interests are wide-ranging, which I enumerate on the Berkeley Linguistics website as phonological theory, language typology, and African languages, especially Bantu and Niger-Congo. I think what ties them together is that I am always thinking about typology, about how languages are the same vs. different. I’m fascinated with the variation among related languages which respond differently to the same conflicting concerns, often involving interfaces between phonology and grammar. This is the case in my article in the Enfield collection, where I contrasted intra-phonological dependencies with the possibility that there could be non-accidental dependences between phonology, morphology, and syntax. The other six chapters derive from my deep involvement with individual and comparative African linguistics, where I go after whatever strikes me as interesting and important.
Given my extensive work on tone systems, it is perhaps surprising that none of the LangSci publications have to do with tone. In more than one occasion I have set out to work on a new tone system (there’s nothing more exciting than studying a language from scratch!), but I quickly am distracted by something unusual and hence intriguing in the grammar. This is the case, for example, in the joint article on Lusoga multiple exponence. The three comparative chapters in the Watters volume as well as the multiple argument chapter in Bisang & Malchukov synthesize my personal field work on several dozen Bantoid, especially Grassfields Bantu languages, in Cameroon, where I could not help becoming involved in reconstructing proto systems as well as the historical developments our Grassfields Bantu Working Group documented language to language, dialect to dialect.
The Berlin School of Library and Information Science has had a theoretical look at the way proofreading is organised at Language Science Press, resulting in a BA thesis by Lole Westedt entitled
Community Proofreading am Beispiel Language Science Press: „Gratis-Korrekturlesen“ oder auch inhaltlich anreichernd?
[Community proofreading as used by Language Science Press: Only cost-free copy-editing, or also additional improvement of content?]
This study evaluates in how far the way we integrate the community in the proofreading of our books via PaperHive can be seen as a type of (content) open review, and what types of community comments we find (typos, wording, specialist suggestions). We have described our approach to community proofreading in a couple of blog posts:
This thesis by Lole Westedt puts our efforts in a broader context and finds that, actually, what we call “Community Proofreading” meets 6 out of 7 criteria of Ross-Hellauer‘s list of Open Review dimensions:
Westedt then had a look at a sample of 10 books, from which she selected 1 chapter each and analysed the comments she found.
We are happy to announce the publication of The Unicode Cookbook for linguists: Managing writing systems using orthography profiles by Steven Moran and Michael Cysouw. Next to being a very insightful and valuable book for all linguists dealing with character encoding issues (most if not all linguists?), this publication also points the way forward in a number of domains central for the future of academic publishing in linguistics. This blog post discusses the different innovative aspects we see manifest in this book.
The book has not one, but two authors. Both have contributed their respective perspectives and expertises. While we see multiple editors for edited volumes on a regular basis, multiple authors for a monograph are much less common. This has certainly to do with the fact that a monograph is much less amenable to “chunking” than an edited volume. In order to make sure that the authors do not interfere with each other’s work, a clear separation of tasks is necessary, as is version control.
The LaTeX source code of the project is available on GitHub at https://github.com/unicode-cookbook/cookbook. The authors started on 2015-03-29 with this version. All historical files are still available.
Until today, 310 updates have been made to the book, of which 174 by Moran and 121 by Cysouw. The full history of the project can be seen at https://github.com/unicode-cookbook/cookbook/commits/master. In order to have clearly designated versions for reference, the authors have created releases. Continue reading
In 2017 we announced our plans for funding the operations of Language Science Press in the future. Rather than charging readers for reading or authors for publishing, we wanted to set up Language Science Press as a true community enterprise, where research institutions worldwide collaborate to set up an Open Access publication platform.
Many linguists worldwide contacted their librarians and asked them for support, and many of the libraries they asked were happy to fund our platform via Knowledge Unlatched. We are thus proud that we can announce today that we have reached our pledging target of 100 institutions worldwide which support us with 1000 EUR a year each, for the next three years!
This means that the operations for the next three years — and the next 90 books — are secured. However, we are at the lower bound of the intended corridor of 100,000-115,000 EUR. Technically, there was also an additional pledging program for individuals for raising another 15,000 EUR. We abandoned this, as we felt that the financial burden of book publication should not be borne by individuals, but rather by research institutions. As a consequence, we will keep the institutional pledging open until we reach 115 supporters. At 100 supporting institutions, we can publish books, but we cannot provide any extras such as nice maps or extensive help with conversion. When we reach 115, we will be able to provide more extensive support for authors or subfields which require it. So, if your library is still considering whether to join or not, now is the time! You can point to this impressive list of institutions worldwide which already fund Language Science Press. THANK YOU!
In 2017, we published 26 books:
99 works were proposed to Language Science Press in 2017, for a total of 324. The curve is now slightly superlinear.
The following figure gives a breakdown of the distribution of these works and their states of completion.
In spring this year, we launched our campaign to collect 100 institutional members to collectively fund the future of Language Science Press. The first pledge announced was from U Düsseldorf.
As customary with crowdfunding projects, the support rate is high at the beginning, then drops towards the middle of the funding period (summer in our case), only to rise steeply as the end of the funding period approaches. We see the pledges picking up steam in the last weeks, but we will need a much steeper rise to meet the target! The green X in the graphic marks the position where we are now.