Speaking of the survey (Part 6): Models for a 21st century public history journal

people looking at documentThis is the sixth and final in a series of posts about the findings of our summer 2012 survey on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.

from Anne Mitchell Whisnant, NCPH Journal Task Force:

As a member of the NCPH task force considering the future of The Public Historian, I, like several of my colleagues, have been mining the data from last summer’s survey about the journal.  I focused on questions that asked about the “most or least compelling, interesting, or useful” aspects of other publications respondents identified as “exciting models” for NCPH.

“Hmm,” one respondent mused, “I usually don’t put ‘journal’ and ‘exciting’ in the same sentence.”  Nevertheless, 229 survey respondents identified over 100 different publications that might be worth a look.  Only eight publications, however, (discussed below) garnered four or more mentions.  Meanwhile, nearly 100 respondents either named no models or seemed satisfied with the status quo. Continue reading

Speaking of the survey (Part 5): The NCPH journal and digital publishing

people looking at documentThis is the fifth in a series of posts about the findings of our summer 2012 survey on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.

from Cathy Stanton, NCPH Digital Media Group:

I looked at the question “In what ways would you like to see the possibilities of digital history and digital publishing transform the NCPH journal?” Predictably, the 187 responses to this question covered a wide range from strongly positive to strongly negative. I didn’t do a detailed analysis of the demographic breakdown between the strongly-pro-digital-only people (“Everything online would be great. No paper.”) to the strongly-pro-status-quo people (“I think digital history/digital publishing is overblown and trendy. Stick with print–it works!”) because they were about equally balanced and I think we already have a sense that broadly speaking, this reflects a generational difference in perceptions of digital materials and media. Continue reading

Speaking of the survey (Part 4): Perceived weaknesses of The Public Historian

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the findings of our summer 2012 survey on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.

from Linda Shopes, member, NCPH journal advisory group:

As a member of NCPH’s task force considering the future of The Public Historian and its relationship to other NCPH media, I reviewed responses to question #4 of the Council’s recent Public History Readers Survey: What do you think are the weaknesses of The Public Historian? 211 people answered the question; their responses fall into several broad categories, summarized here.

Many respondents said the design and format of the journal were “old fashioned,” “stodgy,” ‘boring,” and otherwise “dull, dull, dull.” Especially noted was the lack of visual interest, reflecting, I suspect, the greater visual capacity and appeal of digital materials.

Similarly, many respondents expressed concerns loosely grouped around what might be termed digital matters: a lack of open access; the long production time of a paper journal and hence lack of timeliness, especially for exhibit and book reviews (“slow pace of journal production somewhat out of synch with dynamic qualities of the field”); the infrequency of publication; the “lack of dynamic content.” Continue reading

Speaking of the survey (Part 3): Diversity and challenge in public history’s information landscape

people looking at pageThis is the third in a series of posts about the findings of our summer 2012 survey on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.

from Rob Townsend, Deputy Director, American Historical Association:

The Public History Readers Survey demonstrates the wide array of information sources that now dot the landscape of our professional lives, and the challenges that the National Council on Public History faces as it considers the future of its publishing program. Of the 626 respondents to the survey, 88% indicated they value at least one of NCPH’s print and electronic publishing venues, but they differed widely in their preferences. Continue reading

Speaking of the survey (Part 2): What role for the NCPH journal?

people looking through magnifying glassThis is the second in a series of posts about the findings of our summer 2012 survey on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.

__________________________________

from Robert Weyeneth, National Council on Public History Board President:

A number of folks are busy analyzing the information gathered by the NCPH Readers Survey conducted this summer on the future of its journal. We got over 600 responses to all or some of the questions. I’ve had a chance to look at the responses to the question: “In the proliferating world of publishing venues today, is there a unique role or niche that the NCPH journal should play?” Among the 178 responses, I found that there is wide agreement that the NCPH journal should:

• be the journal of record for the field
• assess the state of the field
• present new and innovative work
• be a venue for public historians to communicate with each other
• be an umbrella journal (for an umbrella organization)
• serve public historians in the academy
• serve public history practitioners
• be a bridge between the academy and practice Continue reading

Speaking of the survey (Part 1): A look at who responded and how

people looking at documentEditor’s note:  This summer, the National Council on Public History asked public historians, including its own members but also other readers of its publications, to comment on the current state and possible future directions of The Public Historian journal and other NCPH media.  For some background on the reasons for the survey, read Bob Weyeneth’s recent post on the journal.  In order to open up the ongoing conversation and deliberations as widely as possible, History@Work will be publishing a series of reports drawn from the survey data.  First up, an overview of the survey, the respondents, and some next steps in the process.  We welcome any additional layers of response and analysis that blog readers may want to contribute!

__________________________________________________

from John Dichtl, Executive Director, National Council on Public History:

When you ask people to be critical, especially historians, they’ll often oblige. And if you ask in the form of an anonymous online questionnaire, their feedback is likely to be—shall we say—especially honest.

The 627 respondents to NCPH’s 56-question Public History Readers Survey were precise about what they like and don’t like in The Public Historian, the NCPH newsletter, this blog, and other publications.  While many comments head in different, sometimes contradictory directions, the overall tone was one of eagerness to discuss change. Continue reading