Valley Forge Professor Launches New Teaching Resource Journal, empirestudies.org Offers High Scholarship to Global Schools

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Tom Durwood, a Valley Forge Assistant Professor published a free open-access journal for college teachers and students called The Journal of Empire Studies, http://www.empirestudies.org, which offers a helpful resource to obtain doctoral dissertations.

Tom Durwood, a Valley Forge Assistant Professor, has come up with a way to use all those doctoral dissertations that gather dust on a library shelf. He is editing and publishing an open-access journal for college teachers and students called The Journal of Empire Studies, http://www.empirestudies.org.

The Journal of Empire Studies presents excerpts from dissertations and books on all aspects of the rise and fall of empires, a sampling of global studies. “So much scholarship comes out that gets lost,” said Durwood. “Our mission is to find this content and make it accessible for the general reader and college student. Scholars tend to write for other scholars, but the general reader can gain new perspectives from these essays as well.”

http://www.empirestudies.org is a free open-access journal. Durwood encourages other teachers to download and print his lesson plans, and he suggests ways they can incorporate these topics into course curricula.

Durwood has framed each of these erudite essays with introductions and illustrations. He includes insightful interviews with the authors as well as his own lesson plans. Topics include Dracula, the Gatling gun, radar, architecture and identity. Writings from established scholars like Nicholas Ostler and Julia Keller are mixed in with unknowns.

In other scholarly journals, charges for access to such essays can range from $47 to $58, with the online publisher taking the lion’s share of profit. Dissertations which become scholarly books can range from $36 to $120 and higher, and often feature print runs in only the hundreds. Read by only a tiny academic audience, these books can disappear without a trace in the vast marketplace of publishing.

The new journal is part of a wave of open-access online journals. Dr. Julian Fisher of Scholarly Exchange applauds The Journal of Empire Studies. “Creating valuable academic content and then hiding it behind financial firewalls — the traditional scholarly publishing model — runs counter to the essence of scholarship, learning and sharing,” according to Fisher. “To see a journal such as the Journal of Empire Studies breaking that mold is exciting.” Scholarly Exchange, a not-for-profit organization which promotes innovative, cost-efficient electronic-first approaches to scholarly publishing, believes strongly in global sharing and distribution. For more information, visit The Journal of Empire Studies at http://www.empirestudies.org.

The traditional model of scholarly publishing is being challenged. Typically, authors turn over publishing rights to a print journal, which in turn charges universities and libraries to subscribe to the journals. A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article cites the development of ‘open access’ journals as a transforming agent within academic publishing.

“In a world where subscriptions to some medical journals can cost more than $10,000 a year, publishing enabled by this kind of tool is plugging many academics into research and discourse as never before.” Stanford Professor John Willinsky of Public Knowledge Project, an advocate of online journal content, calls it ‘a strong vehicle for academic freedom’.

“Open access to peer-reviewed research is as urgent in the humanities and social sciences as it is in the natural sciences,” says Peter Suber, Berkman Fellow at Harvard University, an advocate of the open access movement. “Scholars in all fields need wider access as readers and larger audiences and impact as authors. I commend Tom for making The Journal of Empire Studies open-access from birth, and hope that scholars in all the fields overlapping empire studies will see the new journal as a new opportunity for overcoming access barriers to knowledge and research.”

Tom Durwood is Asst. Professor of English at Valley Forge Military College, where he has been named Teacher of the Year twice in the past three years.

Contact Katherine Brungs at Lacewing Communications for media inquiries at media(at)lacewingcom(dot)com and http://www.lacewingcommunications.com.

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