The Case of Marshall Poe

In the section titled "Making Them Count in the Long and Short Term: Three Approaches" in version 1.0 of the article, I discuss at length the strategy taken by the Russian historian Marshall Poe to validate his scholarship. In brief, Poe wrote a book on a very specific aspect of Russian history. When he could not find a publisher, he self-published the work on the web, and gained recognition for his efforts. As I wrote in 2002:

Poe's self-published electronic work became Scholarship not as the result of a process certified by the usual gatekeepers, but as the result of his own initiative as both a writer and a publisher. He took a chance on a unique approach to S/scholarship by self-publishing it and simultaneously working hard to promote his book to the stake-holders who would ultimately determine its value: peers, reviewers, potential purchasers, and academic libraries. Poe's approach is obviously much more time-consuming and risky than conventional publishing, but had he followed the accepted practices of publishing, he wouldn't have published anything at all. Web writers facing opposition from deans, department chairs, and tenure and review committees about the idea of counting their Web sites as S/scholarship can learn a lot from the initiatives taken by Poe.

Poe's book is no longer available at the URL, but you can get a sense of what his web site was like in 2002 by visiting this archived version.

Poe's efforts seem to have ultimately been rewarded. Among many other things, Poe publishes regularly in The Atlantic Monthly, has written four and edited six book on various topics of Soviet and Russian history since 2002, has a book on wikis forthcoming from Random House, and will be in residence at Eastern Michigan University in winter 2008 as the McAndless scholar. In short, it would be difficult to argue that Poe's efforts in self-publishing work on the World Wide Web has damaged his career.