BMCR 2005.12.20

From the Editors’ Disk: Reviewers wanted

BMCR is passing its fifteenth birthday in these weeks and is settled in its ways of doing business. It remains a mild irony that this, the second-oldest electronic journal in the humanities, is devoted to disseminating information about the print medium. More than an irony, it is a puzzle to us that various efforts to bring digital resources within the purview of reviewership have fallen flat. Occasionally we succeed in placing a physical manifestation of a digital artifact with a reviewer (usually a CD publication), but despite having gone so far as to promote the establishment of BMERR (Bryn Mawr Electronic Resources Review), we have not sustained a community of practice around serious reviews of web-based publications.

This is a concern for the scholarly world as a whole in two regards. First, there are more and more very high quality and quite serious scholarly works that appear in digital form; second, many observers and participants in the scholarly communication world argue strongly for Open Access publication — that is to say, publication whose costs are defrayed in some way *other* than by user charges. A freely accessible web publication done to appropriate technical standards is the ideal in that regard, and we are pleased that BMCR has indeed followed that model for the electronic version (some of you remember that there was once also a print version) for all its history.

But if it is true that reviewers are so strongly enticed by the prospect of a free book or a free CD that absent such an enticement they are unwilling to come forward, then we will soon be at an impasse, as more and more important material becomes available in a form unsusceptible to the enticement of reviewers. Now the future of reviewing itself is a subject of interest to us, not least because one of us will be participating in a panel on that subject at the APA meetings in Montreal, but we are for now convinced that the first and most obvious way forward is to insure that serious scholarly work, however published, gets serious scholarly reviews.

To that end, this message is designed to elicit our traditional BMCR volunteers on the usual terms. Indicate to us your qualifications and interest, and if we approve your request, we will assign you the review — this time, without a free book to take away at the end. The following resources have been commended to us in recent weeks (and we pass them along on the same terms with which we report Books Received, not as special selection or commendation, but simply as report of notice received by us). Given the scope of these particular works, we would welcome proposals for collaborative reviews.

* Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity, second edition, by Charlotte Roueché.

* Vindolanda Tablets Online, ed. Alan Bowman et al.

*The editions of the D-Scholia and the Lexeis Homerikai by H. Van Thiel, of Cyril’s Glossary (one ms. version only) by U. Hagedorn.

*J. Lundon’s Scholia Minora in Homerum.

This note is also notice that we welcome encouragement from authors, publishers, or readers to pay attention to other good new work as well. We also welcome suggestions for other ways to improve attention to important work.