Scholarly Roadkill

Mitch’s Blog

Welcome to Scholarly Roadkill

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mitch’s blog, Scholarly Roadkill, is part of a consulting business, Scholarly Roadside Service, detailed on this website.The blog will cover topics I'm interested in, not only scholarly publishing, but archaeology, dance, the university, writing, scholarly life, and the absurdity of the 21st century universe.  We have no facility to sign up followers, but if you click Like on our Facebook page, you’ll get announcements of new posts. Guest blogs welcomed, just let me know what you want to write about. 

Publish and/or Perish

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How tough is the publishing game? Maybe it takes a publishing game to find out. Andrew Reinhard masks himself as head of publications for the American Numismatic Society, though he’s actually an archaeologist who deals with artifacts of the contemporary world and is one of the key proponents of archaeogaming. And, with a foot in the publications world and one in the scholarly world, he invented a Twine game called Publish and Perish. The conjunction “and” is all that is necessary here. If you want to try it, the game is not behind a firewall, but…

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A Scholarly Monopoly Nightmare

Monday, September 25, 2017

Scholarly publishing is $25 billion industry, according to a 2015 report, including $10 billion in journals, $5 billion in scholarly books.  Large global media companies have a vested interest in keeping income and profit flowing. The key players work in the billions of dollars-- Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and Springer/Nature—all of which rank among the world’s largest publishing houses.  To increase market share in the shrinking of the scholarly marketplace of frozen academic hires and capped of library budgets, they have swallowed up smaller ones as the key strategy. This includes my own…

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The Best Birthday

Sunday, July 30, 2017

“Do you have a favorite birthday? One that really stood out from the rest?” Chelsea asked. We were sitting around the dinner table ready to dive into my favorite birthday meal of turkey and trimmings. Answering her question was easy. That memorable day was only last year, when I hit 65. A big party for the event? Too conventional. Fortunately, the choice had already been made for me. I would be dancing in Portugal.

Jubilee American Dance Theatre had been invited to the Espinho Folklore Festival. Espinho is a beach town, tourist spot, and suburb of…

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Summer of Love + 1

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My kids Alexis and Mike just got back from the Summer of Love exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in SF. For them, it’s a museum exhibit. For me, life history. Well, not really. In 1967 I was still a high school Valley Boy interested in debate club, the Dodgers, and Beach Boy music. Law school was in my future. The movement didn’t hit me till the next summer, 1968, one that I spent in summer school at UC Santa Cruz. Let’s call it the Summer of Love + 1.

I'd never heard of Junior Statesmen of…

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Turning Your Dissertation into a Book:The Hourglass Method

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I just gave a webinar for the innovative Center for Digital Archaeology on publishing out of your dissertation. Among the confounding factors in deciding how to proceed is the unfortunate physical resemblance of your dissertation to a book. They do look similar, don’t they? They each have a table of contents, introduction, method and theory sections, a whole hunk of data, conclusion, and references. All you need to do is tear out that signature page and the two would be indistinguishable. You can even bind the 321 pages in leather and put it on your mantle for your friends…

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That Afghanistan Project

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The memories only come back in flashes now. Standing atop the 100 foot high dune watching the sun set over an endless vista of sand. The howling winds shredding our camp as we sought cover from wind, sand, and water in the Land Rovers. Crouching next to a teenaged Baluch workman carefully tracing a plastered floor with trowels and brush.  Watching our historical architect Jim Knudstad scrape away at piles of mud and magically reconfigure the plan of a Parthian house. If not for the photos, I am not sure I could convince myself that I…

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Six Helpful Tips for Your Book Proposal

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In a recent post I noted that getting a book published does not, as is generally believed, begin with the book proposal. There’s a lot of field work involved first. But, having done the work, it becomes time to craft a proposal that will convince a publisher to invest $20,000 or $40,000 or more in your book.

Where do you look for guidance? That’s an easy one. Every publisher, that means every one, has guidelines for putting together a book proposal on their website. Usually these guidelines are brief and vague. Some publishers want you to…

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The Ends of Anthropology, A to Z

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Two profound endings for the field of anthropology took place this past week, one at either end of the alphabetic spectrum. In New Mexico, ethnographer Michael Agar succumbed to ALS. News meandered to Walnut Creek through his former affiliation at the University of Maryland. In Indianapolis, a suburban backyard retirement party was held for archaeologist Larry Zimmerman, retiring from decades at Indiana U Indianapolis. In one week, two of the most creative and caring members of our community leave anthropology and leave a deep chasm in the middle of the field.

 One cannot say enough about the brilliance, commitment, or…

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Marching for Science… With Mastodons

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It only took a couple of days after the March for Science that demonstrated why there was a March. The importance of science is amply demonstrated every day somewhere in the academic world, but in my own corner, archaeology, there were two big stories that broke within days of the March that highlighted the differences between science, crowdsourcing, and political posturing.

First came the news that was not yet news. Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist working in South Africa became a media star two years ago with the discovery of homo naledi, a large collection of bones of a human ancestor discovered…

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