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New-wave analysis

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February 17, 2015 by jjackson39

In reading the Writing History in the Digital Age chapter on Creating Meaning, and thinking back to previous chapters about some of the pitfalls of digital history practice, I found myself both assuaged of some of the fears about declining scholarship as well as excited by the potential that fusions of source-material and careful analysis can provide to the field. The authors of this chapter, Sklar and Dublin do an excellent job of succinctly describing what they have tried to accomplish with the WASM journal in its less than 20 years of existence and why it’s a model that can and should be replicated.

What WASM has keenly done by combining the fields of primary source collection and scholarly interpretation is make a ‘one-stop shop’ for students and academics alike, that are interested in women’s rights movements as well as a plethora of sub categories and tangentially related topics. This formula, though admittedly costly and time-consuming should thoroughly be consider for every branch of historical research as the it seems obvious once presented with the idea, that primary and secondary sources should not be artificially separated from one another, but work in concert. With so much primary source information online already it should be easier, though certainly not simple, to begin the process of presenting primary sources alongside journal articles. I’m sure that all of us as historians has had instances of not being able to locate resources that are cited in a paper and though it often isn’t tragic, there are of course examples where a source seems crucial to making a particular argument. If transcribed version of primary sources were included with these articles it could only add to our efforts of accurately capturing the sentiments and opinions of the people whose histories we spend so much time with.

I also appreciated the examination of pricing and access that the writers gave as it was is an ongoing concern that scholars have access to enough high-quality scholarship at reasonable costs. Interestingly enough the fact that views went up once the journal went behind a paywall should be an example to other academic publications that while paywalls may limit access to a degree they are more likely to give attention and legitimacy which in the end makes publications more involved in conversations throughout the field. Funding from subscriptions as opposed to foundations also may help the likelihood of topics being manipulated in any way, or the insinuation by members of the community that benefactors have an unhealthy grip on what subjects are pursued and the opinions given in the articles themselves.


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