Open access archive


I’ve decided to create my own publications archive page. At the moment, this will involve self-archiving the publications on this site, since Aberystwyth (unlike a growing number of UK universities) doesn’t provide an institutional open access archive, and there isn’t as far as I know any kind of discipline-based OAI-compliant self-archiving option for history publications (comparable to ventures like arXiv for scientists), except in a few specialist and science-orientated fields like medical history.* Something needs to be done about that. But personally, I want to do something now rather than waiting around for more ideal solutions to happen.

The immediate spur to action was article by Steve Harnad (thanks to Jeremy).I’d been thinking about self-archiving my publications for a while, to make them more widely available to any interested readers who don’t have access to well-stocked university libraries. I was a bit concerned about the copyright issues, but on actually doing some homework I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that at least two of my publishers already have policies in place which allow me to do this, with some conditions (eg, how long you have to wait after publication, and whether you can post PDFs of the actual published works or only copies of the final accepted drafts).

So I’ve made a start. There will be more to come, along with some of my favourite unpublished conference papers, and later I may use it for pre-print publication as well. I would also like to set up a kind of directory of open-access scholarly publications in early modern history at some point – there are plenty out there but they’re not always easy to find. But that’s going to have to wait till I’m a bit less busy.

By the way, authors can find out their publishers’ policies using SHERPA, which also has a lot of useful guidance on self-archiving.

More useful resources:

Open Access overview
what you can do to promote open access
Promoting open access in the humanities
Open Access News blog
Budapest Open Access Initiative
Open Archives Initiative
OAIster (searches over 600 repositories)

*If I’m wrong about that, I’d be happy to be corrected…

History Carnival notice


History Carnival ButtonThe next History Carnival will be hosted on 1 May by Jeremy Boggs at Clioweb.

Email nominations for recently published posts about history (a historical topic, reviews of books or resources, reflections on teaching or researching history) to jboggs AT gmu DOT edu, or use the submission form provided by Blog Carnival.

The History Carnival is not just for academics and entries don’t have to be heavyweight scholarship, but they must uphold basic standards of factual accuracy. If you have any further questions about the criteria for inclusion, check out the Carnival homepage (link above).

You should include in your email: the title and permalink URL of the blog post you wish to nominate and the author’s name (or pseudonym) and the title of the blog. (I also recommend that you put “History Carnival” somewhere in the title of the email.) You can submit multiple suggestions, both your own writing and that of others, but please try not to submit more than one post by any individual author for each Carnival (with the exception of multi-part posts on the same topic).

Medicine and history resources (updated!)


A random curiosity-led Googling for information on 18th-century vaccination led me to some rather good resources. I won’t have much time for blogging for the next couple of weeks, so I thought I’d share some of this bounty with you to keep you occupied.

Edward Jenner and the discovery of vaccination
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: smallpox vaccinations in Turkey
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Edward Jenner
Jenner’s Inquiry into the effects of the variolae vaccine
The life and death of smallpox

From Plague to AIDS
Early modern medicine resources at EMR
You can now access, for free, the full-text archives of every issue of Medical History (via PubMed)
The Wellcome Trust Center for the History of Medicine at UCL has some very good resources, including a wonderful tribute and bibliography of the life and work of Roy Porter.
The Wellcome Trust‘s own website, of course, has a whole range of invaluable resources for the history of medicine:
Medical Photographic Library
Turning the Pages


From the US National Library of Medicine:
Images from the History of Medicine
The main History of Medicine site is also worth a visit, especially its online exhibitions section. There’s currently an exhibit on the history of forensic medicine.
Clendening History of medicine Library and Museum

History of Medicine Online
BUBL history of medicine resources
History of Chinese Medicine

Grumpy Sunday: blog bugbears


1. Sweeping assertions without benefit of evidence.

1a. Especially sweeping and inaccurate historical assertions that demonstrate total and utter ignorance of decades of well-established, careful research by large numbers of historians.

1b. Not to mention when a simple 5-minute Google search would have corrected the aforesaid sweeping assertions. (And I know because I went and did one!)

2. Bloggers who haven’t actually read anything by X but feel qualified to criticise* X based on something Y wrote about X.

2a. Especially when Y is a hack journalist and X is a respected and experienced specialist in whatever the subject is under discussion.

3. Bloggers who haven’t actually read anything by X but feel qualified to criticise* Y (who has read X) for what Y has written about X.

4. When a blogger writes a post about some large scale social or economic trend or pattern, and most of the ensuing comment thread consists of people agreeing or disagreeing with the blogger based purely on personal anecdotes.

5. People who use ‘that’ when they should use ‘who’ (as in: people that use ‘that’ when they should use ‘who’). For some reason, this has been driving me absolutely crazy lately.

No links to protect the not so innocent, but don’t tell me you haven’t encountered them. Anyone got any more to add? Get ’em off your chest! (Or if your guilty conscience has anything to confess…)


*Perhaps I should note that I didn’t mean ‘criticise’ in the judicious academic sense. I meant it more in the sense of ‘vicious attack’.

Innocent, but not innocent


I admit, I was puzzled at first by the story that the government is thinking of introducing the Scottish ‘not proven’ verdict as part of its plans to ‘reform’ compensation for victims of miscarriages of justice.

The ‘not proven’ verdict is controversial in Scotland. The problems with it boil down to: a) it’s a cop-out, b) it’s irrational and c) it leaves a stain on the defendant’s reputation: the jury is saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict but they doubt the defendant’s innocence. But nonetheless the defendant walks free. How could this have any bearing on the kind of miscarriage of justice that puts an innocent person in jail?

The Scotsman (registration required?) spells it out more clearly than the English newspaper reports I’ve seen. This is not a plan to introduce ‘not proven’ as a third option for trial juries, as it’s used in Scotland, which would merely be somewhat bizarre.

No: the proposal is only for the ‘not proven’ option to be available to appeal court judges: they could decide that a conviction was ‘not proven’, but this would not be the same as quashing the conviction – and the prisoner concerned would not be eligible for any compensation at all.

By giving the appeal judges the option to find a conviction not proven, Mr Clarke could allow the Court of Appeal effectively to strike down a lower court’s verdict on procedural grounds, yet without declaring the defendant innocent. …

In effect, someone whose conviction was later found not proven by the Court of Appeal would technically be innocent, but not entitled to claim damages.

Regardless of how many years they might have spent in prison. Innocent, but not innocent.

This undermines a cornerstone of modern criminal justice: the burden of proof rests with the prosecution – and they must prove the case beyond all reasonable doubt (this is why ‘technicalities’ matter, even if sometimes you think they’re being manipulated).

In Scottish law, the legal effect of a ‘not proven’ verdict is exactly the same as one of ‘not guilty’. This proposal is twisting the concept in a way that has nothing at all to do with that usage, however controversial it might be (and I suspect its days are numbered in any case).

It is appalling.

A poll


What do teacherly [ETA: and studenty!] folks think of a student using the expression “sexing-up” in an essay?

I think it expresses pretty well what’s going on in the source materials he’s discussing, but is it too colloquial? Should I tell him to be more boring in future?

Something for the weekend


History Carnival will soon be up at (a)musings of a grad studentand here it is!

And Carnivalesque will come tomorrow at Earmarks in Early Modern cultureand it’s here!

Bardiac has posted the NEXT draft of the REALLY dead women writers meme

(Since the texts went behind a paywall, I hadn’t taken much notice of the Brown Women Writers Project. But there are still a few useful resources there that are free to view.)

How to create a digital library of early modern texts

Dan Cohen has written about Search Engine Optimization for Smarties

A good contribution to the bad academic writing debate from the Guardian…

Something for Easter… and a Jewish joke for Passover

Is there such a thing as a British intellectual?

Intellectual or not, guess where I’ll be at 7.15 this evening?…

PS: decided not to get an Easter Egg this year… but I did buy a bar of the good dark stuff instead. I am not alone.

PPS: Spam email oxymoron of the week: “Academic Qualifications available from prestigious non-accredited universities”…

Trackbacks not working


It seems that the blog can receive (manual) trackbacks but not pingbacks (no, I don’t fully understand the distinction either; no doubt I’ll find out in the course of trying to solve the problem…). And I don’t think it’s sending them properly either (actually, I’ve just spotted one sent in the last couple of days, so it looks as though that’s OK).

(I have already checked that the necessary boxes are ticked in admin…)

At first I wondered if it was associated with my WP upgrade to v2.0 (the WP support forums indicate that some people had problems with this), but on checking I found I did the upgrade back in January and I had some trackbacks/pingbacks after that, till it dried up in February.

It’s a bit of a mystery to me. Anyone got any suggestions?

(… Still don’t understand the difference between TB and PB – except that it’s different technology. What the WP codex says seems partly wrong.)