Scholarly Roadkill

Mitch’s Blog

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

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…

Read more

Step 1: Write the Book Proposal. No, That’s Step 2.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

One of my Facebooks friends recently put out an all points bulletin to send her copies of successful book proposals to help her craft one for her next project. She should have asked for something else instead— the email addresses of acquiring editors at publishers that they knew. That would have been much more useful.

I’ve written about how to get a book accepted at a press before, both in articles and in my book for qualitative researchers. The secret is a simple one—publishing is a socially-driven activity and your ability to engage with the gatekeepers…

Read more

Pretending to Profess

Friday, April 07, 2017

The last time I presented a professional paper in archaeology was 25 years ago when I was in the throes of finishing my dissertation.  Not that I haven’t been up on the podium since then. But talking about publishing in archaeology or any other scholarly field is pretty easy. I’ve lived it for the past four decades, and scholars listen to publishers speaking about publishing with the timidity of someone stumbling upon a necromancer in full spell-casting mode.

This one was different. It was my first attempt to speak about the Helmand Sistan Project, the archaeological dig that I participated…

Read more

Is There a Future for Scholarly Publishing?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

It was almost the last question, from the always perceptive Ruth Tringham: “This all sounds so depressing. Is there no hope for a future for scholarly publishing?”

Until then, I thought I was out of the woods. I had been invited to speak to the Berkeley archaeologists about changes in the publishing landscape as part of my role as a new Research Associate at the appropriately named Archaeological Research Facility, ARF.

I thought I had done well, dancing through industry consolidation, the growth of aggregations of content for sale, the “Big Deal” publishers jousting with library consortia (no, not jousting,…

Read more

Prev     Next



HJ Design Logo