"This five-journal special edition": Where are they now?

Of course, there is a rich irony in the revised and re-published version of this article: it came about in part because version 1.0 of "Where Do I List This on My CV?" disappeared from College Composition and Communication Online, sometime in 2004 or 2005. This disappearance was something that I discovered (I believe as the result of an email inquiry from an interested reader); I was not informed about it by CCC or NCTE. The link for my article was http://www.ncte.org/ccc/www/2/54.1/krause.html. Essentially, one day the article was available at the site (and here, I've linked to the web archive version of the article), and then one day it was not.

I later learned that my article and presumably others that were published in this short-lived version of CCC Online fell through the cracks as the result of a change in editors and direction of the online version of CCC. I'm pleased to report that version 1.0 of the article is once again available via CCC Online at http://inventio.us/ccc/digital/krause/index.html. Still, a Google search for the article is likely to turn up the old NCTE link or my own self-published version. This strikes me as problematic; after all, this was an article that was discussed online and has been cited in others' scholarship. This was something I did indeed list on my CV; fortunately, I did not have to explain the absence of this article to my department's tenure and promotion committee.

Sadly, I am not the only scholarly victim of electronic journal disappearances or significant publication changes. Consider the five journals that made up this special edition:

I do not want to dwell on what I see as the challenges faced by CCC Online and these other publications, though I obviously find them disturbing. I also do not want to go down the tangent of studying the demise of these and other electronic journals, though that seems to me a potentially worthy scholarly project for others to explore. However, it seems to me that my experiences suggest two things about the nature of electronic publishing.

First, perhaps paper does matter. In version 1.0 of this article, when I wrote "the only significant difference between online journals and their more traditional counterparts is the medium," I believe I was attempting to diminsh the value of that traditional medium of paper, suggesting it was old-fashioned and irrelevant. Obviously, that view was short-sighted. If my article had been published within the medium of traditional print, it probably would have received fewer readers and less notice. However, if my article had been published within the medium of traditional print, it would still be accessible. Paper, as anyone who has wandered through a rare book library knows, lasts a very long time. This trade-off is not insignificant.

Second, I think the experiences I and other disappeared writers had represent yet another example of why the future of all electronic publishing should involve co/self/simultaneous web publishing. This experience has taught me that in the future, I should make every effort to simultaneously publish in academic publications, be they electronic or print, and to self-publish my work and make it available via a web site I manage. Some journals (like Kairos) already allow for this practice. Other publishers are embracing this practice. For example, Elsevier (2007), which has described itself as "the world's leading publisher of science and health information," and which publishes 2,000 academic journals (including Computers and Composition), now allows its authors to retain the rights to post their work on a personal or institutional web site.

But frankly, I'm not going to wait for permission to self-publish any longer. I intend to ultimately make as much of my scholarly work as possible available via my web site, regardless of its original format, permission or not. In that sense, I will be following the lead of other composition and rhetoric scholars such as Michael Day, Charles Bazerman, and Carolyn Miller.