SCS Board Resolution on Abstract Publication

Resolution approved by the Board of Directors of the SCS, Jan. 6, 2019

The SCS Board of Directors approved the following recommendation at its meeting on January 6, 2019. It will be communicated to journal editors and to classics editors at relevant presses, that is, those whose publications fall under the responsibility of the American Office. We will also investigate whether the recommendation can be more widely discussed and adopted.

Board Resolution

In view of the ever-growing number of articles and chapters in collective volumes that the American Office for L’Année philologique is responsible for processing, it is the strong recommendation of the SCS that journal and volume editors regard it as a best practice and a routine adjunct of the publication process that each article or chapter be accompanied by a brief abstract and a list of keywords.

To ensure the utility of abstracts and keywords for the efficient compilation of data for APh, please take note of the following guidelines:

1. The abstract should give a concise but informative summary of the article’s or chapter’s content, indicating important points of argumentation and main conclusions.

2. The abstract should refer to the types of evidence adduced in drawing these conclusions, and give specific information about the most important items.

  • literary: cite the author or genre, and if an author, cite the works discussed and the most significant passages (The recommended abbreviations of Greek works are as in LSJ or DGE [http://www.filol.csic.es/dge/lst/2lst1.htm], and of Latin works as in TLL.)
  • epigraphical:  cite the most significant inscriptions
  • papyrological: cite the papyri (for the standard abbreviations, use the Checklist at http://papyri.info/docs/checklist)
  • artistic: cite the significant pieces, remembering to include museum inventory numbers
  • manuscript evidence: cite the library and shelfmark
  • archaeological: include the name of the sponsoring institution and the nature of the evidence (such as field report)

3. Abstract and keywords should be provided under a Creative Commons license.

Reasoning for this Resolution

Over the past couple of years, the SCS Board of Directors and its Advisory Board on the American Office of L’Année philologique has been following the progress of the transition of the classical bibliographic database to a new publisher and provider of online access, namely Brepols. This change came about because SIBC (Société Internationale de Bibliographie Classique) found it necessary to make new arrangements since the previous platform could no longer be sustained.

This transition has been a source of uncertainty for at least two reasons. First, the different pricing structure used by Brepols has made it unclear for the moment how many old subscribers have maintained their subscriptions or how many new subscribers have been acquired. Second, changes both in the level of projected revenue to be shared among local offices and in the terms governing the royalties to SCS for the data that was originally developed by the Database of Classical Bibliography have made it likely that these sources will provide less support than previously toward the budget of the American Office. The actual decrease, if any, will not be clear until the effects of the transition are fully understood in the next year or two.

The other important aspect of the transition has been the change in workflow for the bibliographers at the local offices. Initially, productivity was, as expected, reduced somewhat as people were learning the new system, but now productivity is normal once more. Brepols is experimenting with technological solutions that could one day improve productivity, but these efforts are still embryonic. Brepols also wants to improve the online database by encouraging the bibliographers to enter more keywords for piece.

Meanwhile, the amount of material that would ideally be covered in the database keeps growing year by year. The American Office is responsible for journals and numerous collective volumes originating in English-speaking countries, and some from elsewhere. Some journals and edited volumes already publish abstracts of their articles, and these abstracts are often a great help to the bibliographers, since a good abstract significantly shortens the time a bibliographer needs to devote to the associated article or chapter. The Advisory Board concluded that one way to help the personnel of the American Office meet the challenge of the ever-increasing material is to recommend that the practice of including abstracts (and keywords) be much more widely adopted and that the usefulness of abstracts be promoted by giving guidance about what will smooth the workflow for the bibliographers. The recommendation includes the notion that abstracts ought to be provided with a Creative Commons license, since the point of the abstract is to inform potential readers and attract them to the full article, not to earn revenue through the assertion of copyright restrictions.

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Wilfred Major (Louisiana State University)

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