MediaCommons - more than a digital journal

At USC, an effort to "reinvigorate" scholarly discourse by using the Web to connect research and academics.

The lofty world of academic publishing has been slow to completely embrace online journals as a viable form of publishing. While scientific journals are moving to digital-only publishing, the humanties journals continue to be printed and bound. USC's Institute for the Future of the Book, is launching a new project - the MediaCommons - to try to change that. The program is an innovative test project for purely digital academic publishing projects, reports Ars Technica .

While academic journals are becoming more ubiquitous online for subscribers, they invariably end up in book form. Academia, it seems, still needs to have journals printed to give prestige and weight to the information they contain. But the Media Commons program is hoping a peer-reviewed site aimed at academics will attract the legitimate scholars of media studies it needs to be successful

The model is somewhat like a Wikipedia for scholars. The hope is that contributions would be made by members which would eventually lead to tenure and promotion lending the project solid academic scholarship.

"We're convinced that media studies scholars will need to lead the way in convincing tenure and promotion committees that new modes of publishing like this network are not simply valid but important," writes Kathleen Fitzpatrick of the IFB.

But don't think about it as a digital journal, Fitzpatrick says. The model is more scholarly network. "The more we thought about the purposes behind electronic scholarly publishing, the more we became focused on the need not simply to provide better access to discrete scholarly texts but rather to reinvigorate intellectual discourse, and thus connections, amongst peers (and, not incidentally, discourse between the academy and the wider intellectual public)."