BMCR 2020.03.02

BMCR’s New Site

Dear colleagues, readers and friends,

Two years ago, we asked you to assist BMCR as we launched a program of renewal. This month, that long work comes to fruition. We write to explain what has been achieved, to say a word about the future, and to thank those who made this possible.

To prepare BMCR for both today and days to come, we performed two tasks. First, we engaged a developer to build a modern database and platform that accommodates BMCR’s complex workflow. We sought to do this as much as possible from open-source and community-renewed components. This process began well, but faltered as the firms that contracted to do the work proved unable to see the project through. We were brought across the finish line with the assistance of Matt Love of His thoughtful and responsive collaboration has been invaluable in these recent months.

Second, we engaged the assistance of programmers at Whirl-i-gig to standardize our 12,000+ published reviews. This proved a vastly more complex task than we had foreseen: 29 years of historic data turned out to contain diverse and imbricated formats and encodings that resisted simple translation. What is more, it remains the case that some articles, particularly from the 1990s, do not appear accurately on the new site. Many of the remaining problems will have to be fixed by hand. Please assist us by bringing problems to our attention—and then, please be patient while we fix things.

For the future: your experience of reading BMCR should be seamless. Behind the scenes, we hope to be able to accommodate more complex formatting than had previously been possible. We also aspire to publish a wider range of forms of article than heretofore: we welcome suggestions for essays that survey a field, or that revisit works in light of subsequent work, or that review multiple works. We should be able to accommodate media of various types, from illustrations to video.

In closing, we wish to thank the many people whose assistance made this work possible. First, our appeal to you, BMCR’s readers, garnered over $60,000. This was essential to the endeavor, and a deeply moving testament to the value that the community places in open-access publication. The project was also supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This was the second occasion on which BMCR has benefitted from the generosity of the Foundation, and we are most grateful for its support. Our interaction with the Mellon Foundation was enabled by the expert assistance of Sharon Bain, Director of Institutional Grants at Bryn Mawr College. Finally, Bryn Mawr College itself gave resources that allowed for the hiring of editorial assistants during the transition and into the medium-term future.

BMCR was launched thirty years ago, and long sustained, by the inspiration and dedication of Rick Hamilton and Jim O’Donnell. It is a particular delight to relaunch BMCR as we look forward to celebrating its 30th anniversary on 23-24 October 2020, at Bryn Mawr College.

Read, review, repeat.


Clifford Ando and Camilla MacKay
Senior editors, BMCR