Logging On

Cheryl Ball, Co-Editor

Happy New Years to everyone, whether you celebrate the western New Year on January 1 or the upcoming Lunar New Year on February 1! We at Kairos hope you and yours are safe and healthy during this continuuuuuuued pandemic. We have a wonderful and robust issue for you that Michael Faris has introduced in the In This Issue section. Meanwhile, allow me to update you on some Kairos news.

Kairos Merch and New Patreon Page

Since its first issue in January of 1996, the mission of Kairos has been to publish scholarship that examines digital and multimodal composing practices, promoting work that enacts its scholarly argument through rhetorical and innovative uses of new media. As the longest continuously-publishing online peer-reviewed journals in the field, Kairos is one of the premiere journals in English Studies, made so by its dedication to academic quality through the journal's extensive peer-review and editorial production processes. But I'm guessing you already knew that information—lifted from our About page.

So why am I telling you? Because it's not by happenstance that Kairos is the longest continuously publishing online journal… and I'm not even going to qualify it by saying "in the field," because if I had to make an educated guess, having been working in digital publishing now for 20+ years, I'd hazard that Kairos is THE longest continuously running digital journal. It is certainly the longest continuously running journal that publishes anything other than words.

Indeed, Kairos is the rarest of entities—an independent, diamond open-access journal. What is diamond open-access? It's a (supposedly) newer kind of business model for open-access journals that runs counter to the more traditional Green and Gold Access models, both of which tend to rely on Article Processing Charges (APCs), that is fees paid by authors, to have their articles published in an open-access fashion within a journal that is either completely OA (and thus the APC is a requirement for publishing at all in the journal) or uses a hybrid OA model, where only those authors who pay the APC will have open-access articles on the digital platform of an another closed-access/print journal. Diamond OA, on the other hand, doesn't charge ANY fees of any kind—neither to readers nor to authors. It is truly free (as in free puppy) to publish in and read, with no access restrictions on any of its content. I don't really want to get into a lesson on Open Access models here (there are even other kinds). My point is that Kairos has employed this no-restrictions model since its inception—our so-called "No Money In, No Money Out" business model—which ultimately isn't a No Money Out model. Diamond OA has its challenges, as this recent (and first) survey of D-OA journals indicates: "Despite scientific quality, [Diamond Open Access journals] face operational challenges and rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers. As such, there is a need to develop infrastructure and to increase funding to support their operations" (see "New Report," Association of European Research Libraries). Ayup.

Kairos has survived since its inception on the kindness of scholar–volunteers—people in the academic digital writing studies community who have wanted to serve this journal by providing their intellectual and editorial efforts in exchange for free drinks and karaoke at the annual conference. And we are beyond grateful for their time and skills. However, not all of our costs can be covered by volunteerism anymore. Since 2012, when our access to in-kind university server space ended, the senior editorial team has been paying to keep the journal running through the annual (and ever-increasing) expenses of domain renewals, web hosting, and server storage. These fees have surmounted $1,200 a year recently, which includes registering multiple domain names and purchasing hosting space for three servers (production, editorial, and our wiki training space). Our server costs have increased specifically in terms of space, as video and audio files has become WAY more popular. And in order to maintain our status as the longest continuously running digital journal—and to safeguard your scholarly work—we keep back-up copies of all those media files on our servers, in case the third-party hosting platforms shut down unexpectedly. These rising costs have cut into our conference beer money at the annual bowling night. :D We joke, and yet we don't. Senior Editor and Publisher Doug Eyman has been paying the journal fees out of pocket for a decade. Serving the community through fun events as well as through top-notch research is key to Kairos's mission, and we don't think Doug should have to pay out of pocket while we remain an independent journal that can publish whatever innovative scholarship YOU create, which any funding organization we might otherwise align with would put an editorial stop to. So we are asking for support from this community to help us cover our server costs going forward.

We believe that the folks who have been able to read Kairos for free, and from all over the world, will help us keep the journal sustainable. We have purposefully never sold the journal (tho we've been asked many times if we would) nor have we ever run advertising so as not to sully your reading experience. We are hoping to raise enough money on an annual basis to cover our server expenses. And IF we end up with more than that, we want to prioritize two additional items: (1) covering the expense of any promotional materials we create (we long ago lost university funding to make stickers, bookmarks, mugs, etc.), and (2) if our donation request really takes off, our dream is to offer versions of KairosCamp (an intensive digital humanities project/webtext-building workshop) for free to multi-marginalized and underrepresented scholars while paying them for their time to attend.

Help us make all of these goals a reality by supporting Kairos, the coolest journal you know. We are proud to be free and open-access to the world, and we hope you can help us keep it that way forever! To that end, we've created a few ways you can support the journal:

  • Through one-time PayPal donations [link forthcoming], where you can donate as little or as much as you'd like directly to Kairos.
  • Through our Patreon page, where, in exchange for a monthly patronage at various levels, you can receive your choice of social media shout-outs, stickers, mugs, or baseball caps—all with Kairos's branding.

Trust me, we feel weird even asking for help, but we also know that there are readers and authors out there who value Kairos's work so much that a measly $24 a year as payback for the decades you've been following the great work herein will be totally worth it. You're worth it. We're worth it. And we thank you infinitely for any contribution you can make. All contributors, whether they are one-time or monthly donations will be listed on our patron page.

We couldn't have even offered you these merch options and made the request for help without making a crucial collaboration with a friendly scholarly communications non-profit that the senior editorial team has long been working with in other areas of academia: K|N Consultants. Their name might be new to you, but Cheryl and Doug have been working with K|N's principal, Rebecca Kennison, going on seven years through various projects. Cheryl has served as Secretary/Treasurer on K|N's Board of Directors for several years now, and she and Doug worked with Rebecca (along with many others) on the "Access/ibility in Digital Scholarship" report we published in Kairos's 20th anniversary issue. Additionally, you might know Rebecca's work from a multitude of scholarly communications and publishing reports that she has authored as well as projects she has worked on over the last few years, including HUMetricsSSH and "Just Ideas? The Status and Future of Publication Ethics in Philosophy: A White Paper." Rebecca has been a leader in digital scholarly publishing, particularly in the open access realm, for nearly 30 years. When we approached Rebecca and K|N about serving as our fiscal agent so we could solicit donations, she was thrilled to help and said that serving Kairos in this capacity fits perfectly within her organization's mission. We are honored and grateful that she agreed. To boot, K|N receives no cut from any donation monies we collect—it all goes directly to paying our expenses.

Now, go get some merch!

Mentoring, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Reports

As we've stated in multiple Logging On columns over the last two years, Kairos's mentoring focus has shifted, with the goal of providing more direct mentoring that will help the journal become a venue known for its inclusive publishing practices. We were able to report on some of these endeavors in an MLA session called "After the Inclusivity Statement: Shit or Get Off the Pot," which was well attended for a Sunday morning virtual panel during a pandemic conference. In addition to that session, Cheryl will be hosting several DEI-related workshops in January and February, primarily for an audience of editors and publishers, because, hey, they need to get on board too! Those events include a pair of workshops co-sponsored by the Open Education Network, the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and the Library Publishing Coalition, and which will include discussions of some key DEI-related documents in scholarly publishing, including the Roadmap for Anti-Racist Practice and the Anti-Racist Scholarly Reviewing Practices heuristic, among others. We are grateful to have a handful of Kairos editors assisting with these workshops as mediators! And we are equally grateful for the opportunity to present on such important topics to such a wide audience. And we are looking forward to Documentation Month, in February, when Cheryl will be running another series of webinars and documentation sprints for editors and publishers, through her work with CELJ and LPC. If you're an editor and haven't joined CELJ yet, now's the time to ramp up your professional development by joining this community of engaging editors who are always wanting to learn how to make their publishing practices more inclusive and effective. CELJ runs additional mentoring events like Chat with an Editor, on which we modeled some of our outreach events these last two years.

For instance, in 2021, Kairos conducted half a dozen mentoring events for authors to connect with us and receive guidance on submitting their work, with the particular goal that more underrepresented and multi-marginalized authors will consider Kairos a suitable and welcoming place for their scholarship. We have updated our style guide to add more inclusive terms and provide the newest modifications for the APA 7th edition, so that your citation practices can stay on point. Thank you to Michael Faris for making those updates for us!

Here are several reports about our mentoring and DEI work over the last year:

Kairos Mentoring Report, 2021 Our Managing Editor Chris Andrews took on the responsibility of managing our mentoring events as well, and he reports the following from 2021:

Kairos held four "Kairos Editors' Open House" sessions (1-hour Zoom video meetings) as part of our mentoring and outreach in 2021. These sessions were intended to "provide a space for scholars to connect and interact with editors, especially about our journal's sections, processes, and practices; to invite and encourage diverse scholarship and research perspectives at and beyond Kairos, and to offer outreach and mentoring for underrepresented authors and assist in their writing process towards publication." Sessions were scheduled on a quarterly basis:

  • March 8, 2021 3:30 pm EST
  • June 14, 2021 3:30 pm EST
  • October 1, 2021 8:30 pm EST (aka Kairos After Hours)
  • December 13, 2021 3:00 pm EST

The first open house was well-attended, with 14 scholars from an array of institutions, positions, and backgrounds in attendance. Five staff members also attended to help ask and answer questions. Kairos received a handful of follow-up emails and pitches after this first open house. Subsequent events each had one attendee–in each case someone with a significant research project they were already working on; thus, these potential authors were able to get an hour of developmental feedback and encouragement from editorial staff. One of these has turned into a webtext submission that is currently in our peer-review cycle. At each event, 4–5 staff members from across the journal attended to share their expertise.

During and after each open house, attendees shared their appreciation for an opportunity to have face-time with editors. One benefit of these events is that they are informal and need little preparation other than scheduling and marketing the event. At the same time, quarterly might be more sessions than necessary considering the ratio of staff volunteers to attending authors. I don't have registration data available for each event, as we purposefully did not retain registration lists, but for the December meeting ten people registered and only one attended.

My deep thanks to each editor who made time to share their experience and expertise at these events.

Kairos also held #AskAnEditor Fridays on Twitter, beginning on March 12, 2021, and continuing until September 2021. Each of these sessions had consistently high engagement activity on Twitter, and @KairosRTP interacted with users on topics ranging from Kairos-specific to open access and digital publishing in general. We kept up with these weekly sessions very well through the spring, announced a month-long break in late July, and never quite got as regular with these in the fall of 2021. Because Cheryl was mostly running the Twitter account on these days, lots of the interaction labor fell to her. Chris now has access to the journal's Twitter account, and will continue to share the work of running these, as we relaunch them in Spring 2022. Considering the high engagement opportunity, this seems like a good style of outreach. At the same time, it is a time-intensive commitment for already-busy staff members, as evidenced by the abrupt drop-off of Fridays in late September, as the academic semester ramped up in the continued pandemic.

Mentoring Update for 2022

In addition to these events, Kairos also hosted the KairosRTP: Road to Publication event, which lasted all day on April 9, 2021—for scholars who could not or did not attend CCCC. This two-part session featured individual chats with editors from a range of publishing venues in writing studies as well as a collaborative feedback session where scholars in the field served as breakout-room mentors for early career scholars seeking input on their in-progress research. We had over 75 people participate in this event and will be looking to run it again in the coming year. And, should the pandemic allow, we will also be hosting our annual Computers & Writing pre-conference in-person workshop on Digital Publishing with digital journal editors from many different journals in writing studies present to offer guidance and feedback.

We are honored that so many folx showed up and participated in these events in 2021, and our plan is to conduct the same number and type of mentoring events this coming year (to carry us through what we hope will be the end of our #pandemicyears). We understand that folx are burnt out, so we encourage authors to use this space as a place where they can share ideas with the knowledge that they are within a low-stakes, low-pressure community of support—we WANT to have you present, even if you aren't in a position to follow through with publication at the moment. Just come ask us basic questions about publishing that you're too afraid to ask your supervisors. The fact that the latter half of 2021 mentoring ratios were 5:1 staff to participant indicates that you will get alllll the attention you maybe even didn't realize you wanted in these discussions. We are here to help. Stay tuned on our Twitter and Facebook (but, hey, mostly Twitter) for announcements about when these workshops will happen. They are ALWAYS FREE, and we provide accessibility support through Zoom live captions and other ways, as needed.

DEI Task Force and Committee

Kairos initiated a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force mid-2021 as a way to engage staff at multiple levels of the journal in DEI efforts. The purpose of the task force was to create the framework for a permanent DEI Committee within the journal. Nine of us from the staff and editorial board met several times a month to work through the Committee charge, which includes expected deliverables and assessment practices, a set of definitions of anti-racism, and recruitment strategies for potential members of the DEI Committee. We are in the process of seeking nominations from staff and board members to serve on the Committee, and we're asking for at least a one-year commitment, with the possibility to renew up to three years, during which time the committee will be responsible for helping the journal assess its DEI efforts through multiple channels, including peer-review and copy-editing practices, demographics of publishing, and outreach and training efforts. We plan to have all ranks of the journal staff and board represented, as those of us on the task force believe it is all of our jobs to work towards better and more inclusive publishing practices. The committee will report out to both the journal membership and its readers on at least an annual basis, and we will be seeking accountability partners outside of the journal to review some of our processes and documentation.