Documentary Editors Request Changes to Proposed NHPRC Grant Programs

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The Association for Documentary Editing has made the following suggestions for changes to the proposed grant programs of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission:

  • The ADE asks that editorial projects and projects which are based on the publication of digital surrogates (without the attributes that define an edition) be separated within the Online Publishing of Historical Documents grant program. Recognizing these types of projects as different versions of online publishing will allow the application of appropriate definitions and standards for each of them in the guidelines. This modification could help ensure that funding for editions according to established standards, in keeping with the support that the NHPRC, since its inception, has given to edited documentary publications, can continue. Careful definition of editorial projects would also be in keeping with the current grant programs of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where Scholarly Editions and Translations are given their own category and prospective applicants are advised to “demonstrate familiarity with the best practices recommended by the Association for Documentary Editing or the Modern Language Association Committee on Scholarly Editions.” We also ask that the published grant guidelines say nothing about crowd-sourcing for editorial projects, allowing project directors to continue to make decisions about how performance objectives will be accomplished.
  • We ask that the requirement of free online access in both the Online Publishing and the Transition Support categories be held in abeyance until the NHPRC can study the issue and develop a practical, robust, proactive approach to developing best practice and taking responsibility for achieving this goal. In the meantime, the grants program can continue to encourage and assist editorial projects in creating online editions.
  • The ADE urges the Commission to consider that debates over the fate of print publication are ongoing, and that the goal of broad digital access to historical sources does not require that all other options for dissemination should be removed from consideration. We should also consider, together, the contributions that scholarly publishers have made and will continue to make as partners with editors, sponsoring institutions, and funders to carry forward our essential work.

Click here to see my letter of March 28 to the Archivist of the United States concerning the proposed changes to the NHPRC grants program: ADE_28March_2014.

Jim McClure

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