Friday, January 20, 2012

Why are so many edited volumes worthless?

Publishing Archaeology (Michael E. Smith)

I think that "worthless" is harsh, but I have been wondering why, recently, so many edited volumes that really don't seem to live up to the potential of the individual contributors are now so popular.

Anyone who follows publishing in archaeology (and probably in academia in general) knows that there has been a great increase in the number of edited collections in the past decade or so. In my humble opinion, many—perhaps most—of these are close to worthless. I’ll spout off about this for a bit, and then provide some suggestions for graduate students and young professionals who are thinking of editing a collection of essays (since these tend to be the worst offenders in producing books of dubious value).

Why the profusion of edited volumes?

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