Opportunities for Research Libraries and Scholarly Societies to Support Community-Building

Mar 26, 2021 13:01 · 10095 words · 48 minute read

Good morning. Good afternoon. This event is co-sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries and the Social Science Research Council.

00:04 - On behalf of my colleagues Jason Rhody and Penny Weber at SSRC and the team at ARL, welcome.

00:05 - My name is Judy Ruttenberg and I’m ARL’s senior director of scholarship and policy and the session is being recorded.

00:07 - In 2018, ARL and SSRC see how the joint meeting with librarians scholars and society leaders to see if we could commit to a shared agenda with respect to more open equitable scholarship in the social sciences.

00:10 - That meeting explored how we might work together to increase access to social science research, and ensure that scholars and scholarship thrive in an environment that is inclusive, equitable, trustworthy and durable.

00:19 - And we found—not surprisingly—that we had shared interest in a number of areas, including sustainable infrastructure, quality and effectiveness of scholarship, and access.

00:30 - Today’s presentation digs into the area of shared interest around institutional roles.

00:37 - So specifically, the importance of scholarly affiliation with institutions, with societies, and with other communities and how those affiliations are challenged by new business models and new economic realities of higher education.

00:50 - So some—just a few issues at that meeting surfaced.

00:54 - Societies rely on membership dues in an environment with declining majors and increasing adjunctification of faculty.

01:00 - They rely on conference revenue in places are often expensive to get to or, in 2020, impossible to get to, and subscription revenue from journals that provide operational funds for other non publishing activities.

01:14 - Research libraries, on the other hand, have strained budgets, are generally supportive of society activities, but would like to see that support separated from subscription costs, and would like to see the rest of the academic institution contribute.

01:27 - So, these are real challenges for all of us today, and made immeasurably worse by COVID.

01:34 - And so we really want to invite everyone here in the audience into this conversation through the chat and the Q&A after the panel.

01:43 - Today’s discussion is about a report that we published in October of last year called “Affiliation in Transition: Rethinking Society Membership with Early-Career Researchers in the Social Sciences ARL commissioned this paper from Marcel LaFlamme to apply social science thinking to some of our shared challenges and potential collaborative solutions.

02:02 - Specifically by interviewing early career researchers and where they invest their time and drive community and belonging in their scholarship.

02:09 - After Marcel presents his work, we have a fantastic panel of reactors who will help us explore how research libraries and societies can support community building among early career researchers.

02:21 - We are really pleased to have with us Danya Glabau, an early career scholar at NYU, Dylan Rodriguez, president of the American studies Association and a professor at UC Riverside, and Elaine Westbrooks, vice provost and university librarian at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

02:38 - They will put their bios in the chat momentarily.

02:41 - As we all try to navigate a more open equitable knowledge creation and distribution, our question today is, what can we learn from listening to the voices of early career scholars? Before I turn this over to Marcel, I want to let you know that this conversation is governed by the ARL code of conduct, which we’ll also put in the chat.

03:02 - Marcel is currently a postdoctoral researcher at LBG Open Innovation in Science Center in Vienna, Austria.

03:08 - He will present for about 15 minutes before we bring our panel for discussion.

03:13 - So over to you, Marcel. Thanks so much, Judy, and thanks to all of you who are joining us today or listening to the recording later on.

03:24 - I’ve got some slides that I’ll share here. Great, so as Judy said to the title of the report: Affiliation in Transition, I’ll say a little about the work that the idea of affiliation is doing there.

03:54 - And I think that’s something we can talk a bit about.

03:56 - So so how membership in a scholarly society is one way, although not the only way, that early career researchers look for belonging and engagement with each other.

04:12 - So, you know, again, just a little about me.

04:16 - I mean, I have a background in libraries, and also in the social sciences, in anthropology.

04:24 - And as I’ll talk a bit about, my experiences here are based in part in my work with society publishing and really thinking about societies from the inside in that way as these spaces that that as Judy said, really reflect the new challenges sort of evolving environment for scholarship that we see today.

04:52 - And that these institutions are our evolving in order to serve and to meet the changing needs.

05:00 - So, I mean, one way of talking about the background for this report are sort of these kind of headlines that that are structural in nature right.

05:11 - So we can think about the transition to open access and the pressure that it places on traditional revenue revenue models.

05:20 - We can think about the changing structure of the scientific workforce, the way in which early career researchers today are really navigating kind of changing expectations about the kind of employment that they can expect to engage in as they move into that workforce.

05:38 - I mean societies are part of a wider sort of culture in society in which our patterns of engagement with organizations from the bowling leagues that the folks like Robert Putnam talk about, to churches to political parties.

05:56 - There’s a way in which the way that we join organizations and belong to organizations is itself changing and that’s not limited to scholars, right? That’s not that’s not only scholars.

06:10 - So those patterns are also something that scholarly organizations are having to contend with.

06:16 - And of course, as Judy said, I mean, this past year has placed a whole different set of challenges and also invited innovations in various ways from scholarly organizations about what it means to convene in new ways.

06:33 - You know, in these particular conditions of constraint that we find ourselves under, but posing the question, right, of if there is something like a new normal after this, then what are the elements of of this period that that will have taught us something? And that that will want to keep that we’ll want to carry forward.

06:56 - So again, I mean, these are sort of the headlines.

06:58 - This is kind of the structural picture. But I also think about—I’m an anthropologist by training— and so I think of a particular moment where I was sort of in conversation with an early career researcher that got me thinking along these lines.

07:15 - So for four years, I co-managed a volunteer program for early career researchers as part of a scholarly society.

07:25 - And so we were at a breakfast event with this group of volunteers so there were twenty—twenty five current PhDs and recent graduates in a kind of hotel ballroom.

07:39 - So we were talking about the program and the work that we were engaged with together.

07:47 - And the question that came up in the context of I think whether it should be required to be a member or not to sort of be to be part of this program.

07:56 - But I’ll just the question that has really stayed with me now kind of going on three years later from a current PhD student who asked just this.

08:06 - So why would I need to be a member in the first place? And so I think we can take a question like this in a few ways, right? So i think one is maybe with a bit of irritation, right? So I think there’s a way in which this student was, you know, enjoying the bagel and the coffee that society was providing for this event.

08:32 - And you know I think there’s a way in which at times the—right, I think it’s easy to feel as though the services that societies provide, I don’t know, people don’t understand them well enough, people aren’t appropriately kind of grateful for them or sort of accessing the ways in which they are really intended to help right.

08:55 - So that’s one layer. Often I think the response to a question like this is a really kind of information driven one or one about persuasion, right? So it’s a way of saying providing a list of benefits rate of individual benefits that that membership might provide.

09:17 - We’re sort of giving an account of the good work that an organization is doing out in the world.

09:23 - And, right, there’s the idea that if we could just message the activities that or our organizations are engaged in well enough and persuasively enough, then this question would go away.

09:36 - Right? That it’s just sort of a gap in understanding.

09:41 - But for me as an ethnographer, I mean, I really tried to take this question as a prompt to thought right, and to ask, you know, why the student was in the room at all right.

09:55 - And was part of this collective, part of this sort of volunteer program even as she was pursuing her studies.

10:02 - And if the category of membership didn’t make sense to her, right, if it wasn’t evident to her what.

10:09 - Yeah how how participation learn in society on those terms was valuable, then what might it mean to follow earlier career scholars like this into the networks and the alternative spaces of affiliation that they are engaged in, right? So this is someone who had showed up early on a Saturday morning to to engage with other scholars, other peers.

10:39 - And so to try to sort of understand the terms on which this student and other early career scholars are seeking out those forms of connection even as they don’t always map onto the categories and the forms of organizational engagement that might be laid out for them, that that might be the sort of received structures that we’re working within.

11:02 - So, you know, the term affiliation again, that I—is sort of at the heart of this paper is my effort to think through the gap between membership in that sort of formal kind of dues paying sense and what I think of as patterns, social action expressing investment in a collectivity and what it potentiates, right? So there’s a way in which formal membership in an organization may be one form that affiliation takes, but it may not be the only form.

11:36 - There may be forms of investment that operate alongside or sort of for that particular mode of membership.

11:47 - And what does it mean for organizations that don’t understand themselves to have members at all? How is it that some of these other networks may have different metaphors, different ways of relating to scholars and scholarship such that membership is a category, yeah, may not capture everything that we want to understand.

12:09 - So I mean, if I can kind of give you the takeaway of the report just very briefly in one slide, I would say it’s this.

12:18 - So I mean, the findings of the study—and I’ll talk a bit about the folks who I talked to and where these findings are coming from—but in some ways scholarly societies are becoming less successful at laying claim to those affiliated investments over earlier career researchers, relative to some of these other emerging spaces of scholarly affiliation.

12:42 - And on the one hand, that can be cause for concern, right? So for societies themselves, but also for scholarship, for research organizations.

12:53 - Yeah, there’s a way in which that this might give us cause for concern.

12:58 - But the other side of this that I want to emphasize is that societies can learn from and cooperate with these alternative spaces in order to renew their own mission of supporting scholars and scholarship and also in ways that move toward this more open, diverse, and participatory system of scholarly communication with which Judy, sort of, opened today.

13:25 - So, yeah I guess what I really want to emphasize is that this sense of—ways in which societies are well positioned, I think, to learn from and to engage with these alternative spaces, which need the support and infrastructural solidity that these societies can often provide right.

13:53 - So there are things that we can learn from these alternative spaces and yet, you know, I think there are ways that these alternative spaces need to be capacity rated on their own terms.

14:03 - And I think that both societies and libraries have a role to play in seeing that that comes about.

14:10 - So again, I mean, I will belabor this, I’m happy to answer more questions about it, but the findings of the study are based on interviews with 12 early career researchers in the social sciences from the United States and Canada.

14:25 - So while a range of fields of identities in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity and when I think about the sampling strategy here, I should be very clear that this is not a representative sample of society members, and that that was never the intent of the study.

14:46 - But the intention was to identify people who were really engaged in creating or were bringing about these alternative spaces of affiliation from which societies may have a chance to learn.

15:01 - That’s not to say that that that every society member or every early career researcher in the social sciences is engaged in that work.

15:09 - Not at all. And the report touches on some ways in which some reasons that that might be so.

15:16 - But if we think about the purpose of the report in terms of this idea of listening for weak signals that could become strong, right.

15:23 - These emerging forms of affiliation that are not yet dominant, but that represent a direction in which researchers, early career researchers and their needs are sort of trending.

15:36 - I think that’s the value in trying to understand these spaces.

15:43 - So the report sort of has four main findings, which I’ll talk through briefly.

15:50 - So the first sort of restates this this idea, this gap between membership and affiliation that I’m referring to.

16:00 - So the way in which membership in existing societies is only one side of belonging and engagement.

16:07 - So the report documents other networks, both place-based that are specific to where researchers are located, but also more diffuse and enabled by information communication technologies.

16:25 - So I think first and foremost, it’s just important for us to understand this, right? That—that researcher community can be sort of channeled through this particular form.

16:38 - But that’s not the only way that it happens and that it can be valuable to describe those other forms to sort of take an inventory of them.

16:47 - So the second finding that the desire for alternative spaces of affiliation is widespread.

16:53 - So, I think sometimes this can come from a sense of needs not being met by existing scholarly societies in various ways.

17:04 - But I think also by a sense that alternative spaces of affiliation offer early career researchers an opportunity to make an impact to be involved in priority setting for the organizations that they’re part of from the very beginning right.

17:25 - And from the point in the career cycle where they are.

17:28 - So there’s perhaps less of a sense that they need to wait in line for years to sort of qualify for a board position or another role where their voice would really be taken seriously.

17:42 - Part of what is attractive about these alternative spaces is really the chance to shape those priorities from the beginning.

17:53 - The third finding, I mean, we can think about these alternative spaces as more loosely institutionalized than existing scholarly societies.

18:03 - And I think something that for me as a researcher was really helpful to understand about them is that the goal of these spaces is not always to scale up, is not always to to achieve permanence or to, necessarily, to displace kind of other legacy organizations.

18:25 - I mean, part of what is interesting about them, I think is this sense that they can exist for a period of time, but also remain flexible to change to get to blink out of existence in one form and reemerge in another as the needs researchers who are steering them change or are understood more clearly.

18:50 - So yeah I mean, this is a piece where I think using the logic of existing scholarly societies or other nonprofit organizations can limit us here.

19:03 - If if we try to apprehend these alternative spaces on exactly the same terms.

19:10 - The fourth and final finding is that early career researchers balance what I’ve called strategic and symbolic investments in existing societies.

19:20 - And I think that’s—that’s important to understand and also in relation to the needs that these alternative spaces might need.

19:29 - So the way in which showing up to a meeting because it’s where the job market happens or because membership is an expectation for certain kinds of professional advancement, you know, that strategic element is there, but it was very clear in the interviews that there are sort of symbolic investments in these institutions, and particularly in kind of claiming them for certain kinds of intellectual and political projects.

19:59 - Right, the way in which these organizations represent a kind of solidity of these disciplines in ways that early career researchers talk about wanting to gain access to and to help sort of steer those organizations and the disciplines themselves in new and productive directions.

20:21 - So the report presents a set of recommendations for both libraries and for societies.

20:26 - I won’t sort of go through them at length. But I think on the library front really thinking about the way that scholarly societies again are—are one important site of community for scholars and for disciplines.

20:46 - But for libraries to think about a kind of level playing field where knowing as we do that that these scholarly communities are proliferating, I think there is an opportunity for libraries to ask you know which scholarly communities really align with the sorts of values that libraries and other folks within the scholarly communication ecosystem are seeking to advance.

21:14 - You know, how can libraries really make those values clearly heard and to understand that there are communities that are really eager to align themselves with them? We can also talk about, as Judy mentioned, sort of thinking about alternative forms of support for scholarly communities, right? So is it always and only libraries that provide the support through the very specific mechanism of journal subscriptions, or, how are scholarly community’s capacitated in different ways, as well as the range of services that libraries can provide to scholarly communities of all kinds.

21:55 - When we think about societies in particular, again, sort of opportunities to coordinate with to capacitate emerging communities.

22:04 - Um, a nice quote from one of the interviews that I wanted to share from an interviewee talking about a particular society and its relationship to these emerging networks.

22:14 - She says, “It’s like collaboration between friends, not collaboration between a parent and a child. ” So I think this idea of how these organizations or how these networks can be seen as valuable in their own right.

22:32 - And really, sort of, not taking their lack of institutionalize nation as a sort of deficit but rather as sort of a different form a different a different structure of network that’s valuable to take on its own terms.

22:48 - So, happy to talk more about the recommendations.

22:51 - Maybe I’ll leave here and take it over to my fellow panelists.

22:54 - For me, maybe the closing question I would pose: How do we support scholars and scholarship as needs change and how do we design structures that are fit for this purpose? Right? And that’s a challenge for societies.

23:08 - That’s a challenge for libraries. And it’s certainly a challenge for these emerging spaces of affiliation where early career researchers are sort of thinking through this question themselves as it sort of describes the changing conditions that they themselves are living through.

23:24 - I’ll leave it there, just thanks so much. And looking forward to the discussion.

23:29 - Thank you so much Marcel. That was great.

23:36 - So yeah, I think maybe we’ll start where you ended about asking how we support early career scholars and changing needs.

23:43 - And I’ll just ask the panel about, just to start maybe by talking about your experience with alternative spaces of affiliation sort of outside of more formal membership organizations and Danya, maybe we’ll start with you.

23:57 - And if you could just—I put your bio in the chat, but if you just want to say who you are.

24:01 - Sure, again I’m Danya Glabau, hello, everyone.

24:04 - I’m an industry assistant professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, hello to my colleagues who are watching today, and I direct the Science and Technology Studies program there.

24:17 - I also have been involved in different kinds of leadership roles with the American Anthropological Association, specifically the society for medical anthropology, since 2014 when I was a graduate student—pretty continually.

24:31 - So, you know I have the kind of institutionalized affiliations, but I’ve also— through the end of grad school post PhD—and kind of transitioning to my current role, I’ve been kind of in and out of academia in various ways.

24:51 - At the same time, really placing a lot of value on the kind of depth of thought scholarship and care that my colleagues who are still in grad school or in traditional academic roles brought to their work.

25:05 - And that was something that I wanted to bring to my non-academic work as well.

25:08 - So for me, it was both strategic and sort of personally gratifying to make I still have connections to that academic world as I was kind of finding my post PhD footing.

25:19 - And so one of the ways I did that was through both organizing and getting involved with different kinds of alternative affiliations.

25:27 - And so that took a lot of forms. So, for example, I am in New York City.

25:33 - I finished my PhD here was here between PhD and my current role and have stayed here for my current role, and one of the things that I really enjoyed was just the absolute sort of blossoming of Science and Technology Studies, kind of affiliated or surrounding scholarship.

25:53 - So you know how do I make that a community? You know I started a listserv for example, that included not only researchers, but also practitioners.

26:04 - And that’s still going today. We haven’t met as much during the pandemic.

26:08 - But you know that’s a kind of informal space that takes very little infrastructure.

26:13 - It’s just one person sending email messages every so often.

26:17 - But that has been a really sort of generative community.

26:21 - Kind of on the margins of scholarly societies, one project that I worked on for a couple of years—hopefully we’ll be back post-pandemic—with the Wakanda University project that I collaborated with Elizabeth Chin at the Art Center College of Design to get up and running in 2018 and we continued in 2019.

26:40 - So this was a kind of collaborative exhibition demonstration collaboration space that took place at two years of the American Anthropological Association meetings and that was one where we created a kind of parallel spaces a kind of adjunct to the main meeting.

27:01 - So the first year we actually rented a booth in the exhibition area and setup space for sort of artistic and design interventions on anthropological themes.

27:14 - And the second year, we collaborated with the Ethnographic Terminalia Collective in a kind of off conference space.

27:23 - But that received some funding both from the institutions and faculty involved were affiliated with, as well as the Society for Visual Anthropology.

27:32 - So again, there some kind of semi alternative spaces that kind of benefit from the proximity to a big society and a big meeting as well.

27:43 - So those are just kind of two examples. There are definitely others that I’ve been involved with.

27:48 - But I think those speak to some of the models Marcel was starting to highlight for us.

27:56 - Dylan do you maybe want to jump in here as the president of the society, the American Studies Association and how maybe that the official and alternative spaces may have kind of overlapped in the last year? Absolutely.

28:10 - So I’ll say this and I’m going to if you all will tolerate, I’m going to insert some resources as links in the chat throughout our session together, of our conversation together.

28:21 - I’ll try not to inundate everbody all at once with them.

28:24 - But I’ll say this. American Studies Association seems over the time I’ve been part of it, which has been since the mid-90s.

28:31 - It seems to have actually developed a culture—it seems to have developed the culture and the infrastructure of what Marcel’s report names as an alternative space of affiliation.

28:42 - In other words, it’s a major scholarly professional organization, but at the same time, the way in which not just annual meetings are conducted, but, it’s committee work is conducted, its decision making, its public facing work conducted, the kind of ethic of everything from the sliding scale membership conference fees to this caucus structure, which I’ll talk about a second, has I think the principle of two things that are reflected in the report’s recommendations.

29:17 - One is privileging and assessment and the vulnerabilities of early career people, people who are contingent faculty members increasingly, people are getting the faculty members and people who inhabit positions of structural systemic marginality vulnerability, et cetera, right.

29:42 - So black colleagues, BI-P—indigenous colleagues, disabled colleagues and what not.

29:47 - So all this, the kind of principles that that actually animate ASA are guided by that membership, which has actually kind of taken over.

29:59 - So there was, I remember when I was in graduate school, there was a kind of moment of clear transition between the look the the older rendition of the American Studies Association and what’s become the American Studies Association.

30:13 - And I remember kind of hearing about it as what you could loosely call a kind of ethnic studies, gender studies takeover, queer studies takeover: a coup.

30:25 - And the coup was, of course, it wasn’t just the leadership who got elected president.

30:28 - It was the membership. It was what constituted the panels.

30:32 - So I give you all that loose background to contextualize my first statement, which is just say that that scholars go, especially early career scholars go to ASA both as a primary professional organization, but also as an alternative space of affiliation—again to use Marcel’s language.

30:53 - Many people retain their professional membership in large disciplinary academic organizations.

30:59 - So so a good number of people have their annual memberships in organizations like MLA, like AHA, like professional geographers associations, and so forth.

31:09 - You know, American Sociology Association, triple triple S—SSSP.

31:13 - It’s so on and so forth. So a lot of our members retain those kind of large disciplinary academic, professional organizational memberships but also, I put it yesterday in our pre-conversation, they flee to the ASA every year.

31:31 - Right which, which is part of this tension that I’m getting at that actually constitutes what ASA is.

31:36 - It’s, to cite my friend and colleague—colleagues Fred [inaudible] and Stephanie Harney, right, it’s—it’s experience that inhabit us as a kind of fugitive place for a lot of scholars, for a lot of the reasons that are outlined in the report.

31:53 - You know, actually for every reason and more outlined in the report.

31:57 - So people go to ASA for that. So it’s an interesting kind of way to frame the work that we’re doing because on the one hand ASA’s—depending how you define these terms is the largest and most robustly interdisciplinary scholarly organization in the world.

32:12 - Thousands of thousands of members you know and it’s constantly changing, it’s a membership driven organization.

32:16 - I think we have basically one and a half staff paid and everything else is kind of the leadership and service labor of its members.

32:24 - And the last thing I’ll point out that I think is a really concrete way that the ASA has made has made support for early career people, including graduate students a central part of its actual infrastructure, right.

32:42 - So when I say, when I say ASA’s culture, I don’t just mean it’s kind of ephemeral abstracted notion of culture.

32:48 - I mean, the infrastructure of the organization, right? Because I don’t think you have—I don’t you have a culture without an infrastructure that reproduces or supports that culture.

32:56 - So when I’m saying that, when I say culture I mean infrastructure.

32:57 - Part of the infrastructure—and I’ll put the link right now in the chat is this—and I’ll say this has supported me from the time I was a grad student and now, it’s the caucus structure, right? Anybody who’s in the ASA propose the creation of a new caucus it can be for graduate students, right, four first year graduate students can propose a caucus and in fact, some of them have origins in something not far from that in a cohort of grads who’s not far from being that early in their careers.

33:25 - But if you look at the caucus structure, it’s that infrastructure that that foregrounds and privileges early career scholars.

33:34 - It puts their work at the forefront. It gives them the kind of traction in the juice to pull senior scholars into their work.

33:41 - You know, whether it’s as respondents to their panels right whether as code participants in featured sessions during annual meeting, whether it’s pulling people together for a special general issues of the flagship journal of America Quarterly.

33:56 - So you know those kind of kind of prominent projects kind of outward facing high profile projects that support early career scholars are driven by these caucuses.

34:09 - And, you know, the caucuses meet both during the annual meeting.

34:13 - But they also meet throughout the year. In fact, they’re given some privileges in the annual meeting organizing process to actually create a sequence—sequential sessions.

34:24 - So they’ll actually be featured in the annual meeting as the “X caucus session. ” And it’ll be highlighted and people will go to that that actually builds that infrastructure up further more people join these caucuses.

34:35 - So the one that I was most actively part of and remained actively part of is the [inaudible] studies one a bunch abolitionist colleagues basically started this thing, and I was part of that founding group and over the years, we’ve generate all kinds of creative stuff both within and beyond ASA’s annual meeting.

34:52 - And it’s been overwhelmingly the early career scholars which is both by the way, that’s good and it’s bad, right.

34:57 - I’m harping on all the things that are supported scholars here.

35:01 - Get people out there. It gets their names that it should she gets them jobs and postdocs because we know who somebody is from the first time that we that we see them as a first or second year graduate student.

35:11 - So I’ve seen that I’ve been around long enough to actually see that happen.

35:14 - People get you know postdocs because we know who they are.

35:17 - They are some of us are on those committees.

35:19 - We highlight the files, shoot for jobs the same thing.

35:22 - We all know how that works right. But at the same time, I think the critique I would have about this infrastructure is that at times, it is overly reliant on the labor, on the energy of early career scholars and it’s a zero sum game right.

35:42 - Because some of the high profile people, some of the senior people are inundated with all kinds of other service commitments all kinds of other mentorship and whatnot.

35:49 - So and I’m part of that group, now, right. So so.

35:53 - So I’ll say that. Yeah, I think a lot of times that the sense is that.

35:56 - OK. The caucus is early career people’s game.

35:59 - You know what I mean? But I think that there’s another side that I would say that that early career folks end up being the ones who do a lot of the kind organizing and administrative labor for that.

36:07 - So. So I think that there’s two sides to all of this.

36:10 - But I but I am proud of the way that that ASA has been very principle and explicit about understanding how the shape of these interdisciplinary transdisciplinary and anti disciplinary critical fields is and probably for the foreseeable future will be built and transformed to intervene on constantly by people who we define as early career scholars.

36:37 - I mean, people that are pre tenure or maybe very recently tenured.

36:40 - So I see to ASA as really constituted by that energy and by those folks until the infrastructures become something that organically reflects that.

36:49 - Can I—can I respond to part of his comment quick, Judy? Sure, then I want to bring in Elaine because they are on infrastructure.

36:57 - But please. Sure. But but I just wanted to I’m so glad you pointed out, the kind of the good the bad of this kind of centering of early career researchers and especially graduate students, Dylan.

37:08 - And I wanted to kind of add onto that. So I’m speaking again from a position of multiple years of precarity in the academy.

37:15 - You know I’ve been an adjunct I’ve worked in kind of alternative academic spaces.

37:20 - I love working in those spaces. It’s hard to make a living there.

37:24 - And my current position is a contract position.

37:27 - Right. So not tenure track. And I’m also going to have two books come out next year.

37:32 - So which would be well you know would be well more than enough to sort of gain tenure in any field in the humanities or social sciences.

37:43 - You know 10 years or more ago, five years after getting a PhD.

37:47 - But you know I’ve had I’ve never actually even interviewed for a tenure track job.

37:53 - So. So I think also part of the kind of rub of the kind of model you’re pointing out is that the carrot of this level of intensive involvement in the scholarly society, the carrot of going on and getting a tenure track job, simply doesn’t exist in some fields.

38:10 - Right. And we were talking about this yesterday.

38:13 - So in the kind of narrower slice of anthropology of medical anthropology that is kind of my specialty in any given year, the top handful dozen or couple dozen programs are easily graduating a hundred new PhDs, I completely ignored the job cycle this year, but last year when I was still paying attention to it.

38:33 - There were I think about five or six tenure track jobs and maybe a dozen full time jobs total in medical anthropology not only for those people from top programs but also for basically a decade’s worth of people in the kind of backlog for a long term full time position like me.

38:50 - Right. So I think there’s also this larger question.

38:55 - Of you know, well, why are they getting back to Marcel’s question.

38:58 - Well why would I participate if I kind of knew the odds that are out there? And I think that’s something we really struggle with in anthropology.

39:07 - STS is a little bit different because there are kind of multiple pathways and it depends a lot on kind of what is your country or region of origin, and where are you seeking to get a job, right.

39:18 - So STS job markets look very different in Europe more robust in some ways.

39:22 - But kind of only to a certain point in the US you know they look similar to anthropology but STS people can sometimes go into a traditional discipline like sociology with a lot more opportunities, or public health, or public policy.

39:38 - So I get this also kind of varies a lot by discipline.

39:41 - I think a big part of why of Marcel’s interaction at the top was anthropology is a particularly bad place and it raises serious questions about the labor of graduate students and societies.

39:56 - So thank you. So I’d love to bring Elaine into this question as a library leader, listening to these questions about infrastructure and Marcel’s recommendation around supporting community, this labor question, I would just love to hear your thoughts about where you think the opportunities are.

40:11 - Yeah, I mean, I would say that societies and libraries are both mission driven organizations.

40:19 - And I think, to me, the issue always comes down to the control of scholarly content and who determines what is scholarship and what is good scholarship.

40:33 - And I think that, to me, is a really challenging question.

40:39 - And so I think about libraries as the institution that is about access and preserving the scholarly record for future generations.

40:50 - I also think about my role as really like I’m—my number one priority are the researchers at my institution, right, so I focus on UNC Chapel Hill.

41:00 - But I also know when I go to work at 8 a. m. in the morning, the people who are there waiting for the libraries to open or the independent scholars and they’re there at 8 a. m.

41:08 - And that’s all I’ve gotten to know them because we’re all there at 8 a. m. waiting to get in the library.

41:16 - But I also would like to talk about the fact that we’re such a major stakeholder in the future of scholarship and the role societies.

41:27 - And so as the primary source of funding for journals, we pay the bills, like, we pay for the journals that the societies publish and I believe that that role has been taken for granted and that there’s this assumption that libraries are just we’re gonna always do this.

41:48 - And now the economics and the reality of the system that we have the scholarly communication system which is deeply and equitable in every way from the production of knowledge, the reveal knowledge impact factors, peer review, all of these systems are deeply inequitable and they create a system where the incentives are all wrong.

42:10 - The incentives and the core part of this inequitable system is the system of promotion and tenure, which we know is problematic and which drives these behaviors and incentives that are not good for humanity and not good for innovation and they’re not good for higher ed.

42:30 - You the fact that the the NIH and NSF and all these funders are funded by the taxpayers, yet tax payers don’t have access to those research articles and data sets.

42:44 - It’s just it’s just so problematic. And I realize, of course, not all research is funded by the NSF and NIH.

42:50 - And then finally, I would like to say that you know libraries are just so invested in libraries—I’m sorry in societies—because we believe that societies are really important but they’re also part of this whole ecosystem and for many years, the libraries really just focused on the big publishing houses, you know the multinational companies Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and we’ve neglected to focus on societies.

43:21 - And so I’m spending a lot more time talking with societies directly through the faculty on my campus, but also just directly reaching out to them to find out ways for us to engage, because if we completely ignore the societies we’re never going to get to this issue of who should control the scholarly ecosystem and for what benefit.

43:42 - Thank you. Dylan, did you want to respond that you have something in the chat about the disappearance of the carrot and ASA.

43:53 - Yeah, I just wanted to just amplify what both Danya and Elaine were talking about with if you would add the adjunct application of academic labor of scholarly labor and of teaching labor in universities across the United States and around the world.

44:12 - And the fact that I think most scholarly societies are late or in a kind of state of willful ignorance about that fact, that they’re insisting on organizing everything they do around these golden carrots that don’t exist.

44:34 - And in fact, that’s something that the American Studies Association has been talking and thinking about.

44:40 - We actually have like an entire committee that’s just devoted to adjunct contingent faculty right.

44:45 - So we actually try to play in parts of the conference to both deal concretely with the material conditions, social conditions that the vast majority of faculty at these institutions that we’re from actually inhabit and navigate every day.

44:59 - But we’re also trying to think about how to ethically involve graduate students in this so-called professional life knowing that what lies ahead for the majority of them is not going to be tenure track position, right? At any institution not just at a research or an R-1—at any institution.

45:23 - So we’re starting to foreground that increase.

45:26 - I actually think that where you are. I think we’re too slow with it.

45:29 - But we’re actually way ahead of the game compared to almost every other professional scholarly society.

45:35 - So before COVID ruined our lives the 2020 annual meeting, we were actually going to have the equivalent of a really multi-faceted what you want to call a job fair something like that, right.

45:51 - But we were inviting people from all over the spectrum like from NGO to 501c3s, to nonprofits three organizations to museums to performance spaces and all that.

46:02 - Like we’re inviting people from a whole swath of non-academic professions to come in and talk to particularly talk to early career scholars particularly talk of graduate students.

46:19 - Because that’s the actual future that actually and also, I think in terms of going back to the notion of institutional culture.

46:30 - I mean, the thing that we talked about was how we have to stop engaging with graduate students as if the tenure track carrot is even a thing.

46:42 - That’s going to be the necessary shift, right.

46:45 - I would argue that that we have to stop thinking about people who enter these programs as necessarily trapped into tenure track jobs.

46:55 - That we have to have a more robust and open and progressive understanding of what lies at the other end of the piece de for people.

47:02 - So I think associations can actually lead with that can they exemplify what I’m trying to say right.

47:07 - If we actually are saying, yes, you do your piece—you don’t two different jobs one thing you can do.

47:13 - There’s all this other stuff you can do. And also to kind of destigmatize that, which is, I think part of that’s generational, right? There’s a lot of folks who still insist that no a no one is going to be to track my grad students to tenure track jobs at R1 institutions.

47:26 - That’s that’s part of that’s one thing that’s gonna be difficult to dislodge but we’re actually, again, I think part of the way you dislodge or transform that just by exemplifying it and also showing some success with it, which is happening.

47:37 - And I’ll re-post the link, I apologize. I think I only posted the panelists.

47:41 - Thank you. I wonder Marcel or Danya want to know just as people who are found in here at this stage of your career outside of that track, want to respond to that.

47:52 - Or what insight do you have to share? I mean, the only thing I would add to that is is that as we’re thinking beyond tenure track postdocs are not the solution right.

48:05 - They just extend the problem to graduate school.

48:09 - It’s been pretty frustrating as an early career researcher to see so much growth in postdocs and continued scaling back and all kinds of full time positions.

48:19 - But otherwise I co-sign everything you say, Dylan, and actually’d love to connect after the panel to see if we can figure something out.

48:28 - Thanks yeah. I’ll just add to that that Yeah, I mean, I think that thinking about how right.

48:38 - So I think that is a structural challenge for associations and where, we’re the we’re the service labor that allows associations to do what they do.

48:50 - Right. So there’s often and at larger associations there’s professionalized staff labor.

48:56 - And you know that that creates certain conditions of possibility to sort have things done.

49:04 - Sort of an institutional continuity you know.

49:08 - And also, I think, an instinct toward institutional self-preservation.

49:11 - Right. That that there’s a sense in which this is this is something that alternative spaces get to be loosely institutionalized because they don’t have staff on payroll, right? And so I think i think that’s something we have to name.

49:25 - I think that’s something that we have to think about as far as the labor within scholarly associations and so how do we value that labor and appreciate it.

49:34 - And also ask when it forecloses certain kinds of conversations about the structure of scholarly societies and their scope for reinventing themselves.

49:48 - But I think when we talk about volunteer labor or service labor, right, I mean for me this is really predicated on the idea that you have a job that that pays the bills, right, and then in excess of that.

50:01 - Right. Or as part of your the breakdown of your contract.

50:05 - One one thing that you can do is to engage in an unpaid service to an association and so.

50:12 - Yeah I think that as the jobs are sort of anchoring society members change, I think absolutely this is sort of a question you know how does that how does the expectation of service look different for people in precarious roles, how does the expectation of service look different for people working in the industry or elsewhere where we’re articulating the value of scholarly societies, you know, to those institutions is something that they’re that they’re often having to do.

50:43 - So yeah I mean I’m glad that we’re centering that.

50:47 - And just the one. One other thing I’ll add maybe just that I’m seeing a question in the Q and A. I just wanted to speak to about sort of increased calls by early career researchers for societies to put their values into action.

51:00 - So this is something that the report addressed pretty directly in one of the recommendations to society.

51:09 - And in terms of really thinking about partnerships in a value centered and value forward way.

51:17 - And I would say that was a finding across the interviews really and talking to really career researchers, you know, that the sorts of partnerships that societies engage in send messages right to researchers all career stages, but certainly early career researchers who are navigating that sort ecology of affiliation and deciding what where to invest their time.

51:45 - So, so, yeah I mean, I think that choice of partnerships matters and the last kind of plug on pick is sort of around involving early career researchers governance right.

51:56 - I think that that goes to sort of Dylan’s point about infrastructure, right? So so are there.

52:02 - Yeah. Are the governance processes that organizations have adequate to engage in the kind of consultation that we might want to see with early career researchers? And I think some of the—I would say that was another finding for the interviews is that there’s room to sort of think creatively about governance, right.

52:27 - So not just about revenue diversification and right which is often sort of where we go or where we start.

52:34 - But really about governance as well. I’ll add—I’m sorry, just on the governance point you know, I’ve seen too frequently You the revenue pressures, especially around membership and journal subscriptions as a reason why governance can’t change as well.

52:51 - Right. So as much as getting people involved in governance is is good.

52:57 - You know revenue is too often used as an excuse for why actually nothing can change.

53:02 - Well I just want to add part of the challenge of these golden carrots that don’t exist as between 2000 and 2010 publications just exploded.

53:12 - I mean, in some areas they quadrupled because of the Internet in the way it made publishing much more efficient.

53:22 - And now we continue to see increases in the number of published journals.

53:28 - Every year it goes up. Every year. On this flip side.

53:31 - In the press world the monographs that are able to be published is not going up right.

53:39 - And so as part of that promotion and tenure process it’s site publish publish publish, yet the venues and platforms that you’re able use are not necessarily growing at the same rate.

53:53 - And so what we have is people who are publishing more than ever.

53:57 - And they’re not getting tenure and still not getting tenure track jobs.

53:59 - They’re still you know they may. And so that’s one point I wanted to make the other point when we talk about hidden labor is the library.

54:08 - I mean, the problem is these publication sessions are seen as free goods and when they’re free goods produced by a profession that is dominated by women, you know, it becomes undervalued.

54:24 - And so the work of cataloging making it available in the catalog all those things are hidden: the cost, most scholars do not know that you can join a society pay two dollars, you get that journal while I’m paying like ten thousand dollars for that journal and are making available.

54:41 - And so those costs are hidden the labor is hidden.

54:45 - And I think that’s part and parcel of the problems that we have.

54:48 - And then finally, you know when I think about the early career researchers says they’re not joining these societies.

54:56 - The only way they’re going to get access is through the library right.

54:59 - So now we’re trying to figure out when there’s more pressure to deliver that content because they may not the assumption was that they were this society and that they would get it anyway.

55:11 - And so we could slash our titles and not have an impact as we thought.

55:15 - But now the way that things are changing, I’ve heard directly that the library subscribing to these titles is important more than ever.

55:28 - Thank you. We’ve got about four minutes left.

55:32 - I wonder if you want to just do like a lightning round of last thoughts that you want to kind of leave the leave the audience with and maybe we’ll start with you Dylan? Yeah, I wanted to highlight one of the things that I think came up both in the report and I think has been referenced implicitly in some of our conversation here, which is part of the reason why folks go to alternative methods and spaces affiliation is because they’re part emergent communities that tend to be actively repressed, at worst, and passively misrecognized that best by a lot of professional societies.

56:16 - And this is in every industry. But I think it’s especially egregious when it’s in scholarly societies we’re supposed to be thinking critically all the time.

56:24 - So so I think the thing that I’ve learned the most since I started my term actually, this is before I started my term is as ASA president during my year as the president elect what was just how much work the ASA had to do.

56:38 - I think I’ll say something you know I a very concrete example, how much work ASA had to do to place disability justice at the center of its work.

56:45 - Right. That that we were the organization was kind of reproducing a lot of the worst tendencies.

56:53 - That are, you know, you could analogize to other historically excluded underrepresented groups and all kinds of organizations.

57:01 - But but we were the organization ASA was we produced some of those worst tendencies in dealing with disability justice.

57:07 - So part of this was both actively consulting with and organizing around the concerns, structural ethical and otherwise that were articulated by a disability studies caucus.

57:19 - But at the same time not relying on the disability studies caucus, which is scholars, to do administrative and triage labor, right.

57:28 - So it’s like. So part of this was also the organization saying okay you have to make a commitment on a material structure an ethical commitment to making everything disability accessible—bare minimum—in everything we do right up front from annual meeting to any public basically, we do it has to be centering disability justice and then it’s busloads of comrades a pretty comprehensive it’s a pretty comprehensive reassessment of the entire organizations.

57:52 - I’ve been kind of both in a leadership position, but also a kind of active learner around fixing some of the stuff addressing and transforming some of the stuff and interrupting it.

58:03 - So i think that’s the kind of thing that scholarly societies have to do if they’re going to actually address the concerns that push early career scholars away from them to begin with.

58:16 - Now I don’t have faith or optimism that most scholarly races are going to do that right.

58:21 - But I don’t care because ASA does do it right.

58:24 - Well you know I mean like we’re actually here for those scholars.

58:28 - And again, we’re not perfect at, by far from it.

58:31 - Right. But but the fact of the matter is that that kind of criticism is part of what actually animates organization.

58:36 - I see a lot of other scholarly organizations where that kind of place is special when it comes to the grass roots that gets no traction at all right.

58:43 - And here, it actually creates a productive crisis when stuff like that bubbles up from graduate students.

58:49 - I’m not just talking from like the high profile people.

58:51 - The last thing I’ll put out there. I think it’ll be productive for folks to see it.

58:57 - But you know one of the adjustments that we made last year because we had to cancel the in-person annual meeting was I started this initiative called the ASA freedom courses, which was a open access.

59:07 - It was drawn from the intellectual creativity and labor of our members.

59:11 - Y’all can click on that link and see the playlist.

59:14 - But what it was pulling together people’s intellectual energy to actually address the crisis that we were kind of unevenly inhabiting, but which also kind of reflected the best of what the annual meeting was trying to do.

59:28 - So I think this is also about generating platforms rather than just relying on them.

59:33 - I think this is something that came up in the report as well.

59:36 - It’s in by the way, what you see here is the attempt to actually engage with disability justice, like we had to figure out how do we get at people.

59:43 - And I and I hate to say it senior scholars in particular, who have no kind of familiarity or really literacy in dealing with disability, disability justice and accessibility to do these freedom courses.

59:55 - So like we had to walk through that. And we still do we sell our repertoire.

59:58 - So I think part of this is to say that we can’t just societies can’t just rely on other people in other institutions.

60:06 - You know in other business models if you wanna put it that way to have already existing platforms we have to achieve generator.

60:12 - And so this is just one example of what we’re trying to do.

60:15 - And can I hope people will get some out of it.

60:17 - Yeah. Last thing I’ll say: the reason we did this was because we wanted to free our faculty, our faculty colleagues, especially considering that we We wanted to give them stuff they could use in the classroom when they’re online doing these Zoom things to give themselves with a one day vacation from staring at a screen.

60:33 - We use these freedom courses in place of a lecture and have your students talk about them.

60:37 - That was one of things that we made explicit in the call for people to contribute toward a lot more say about that.

60:42 - So we are unfortunately out of time. So I do want to just thank the all of the panelists for your wonderful comments and for the audience for joining us today.

60:53 - If you have a couple of minutes we can stop the recording.

60:58 - And if the panelists can hang around for a couple more minutes.

61:02 - We can engage more with the chat. But I did just want to formally say thank you at the end of the hour.

61:07 - And for everyone that participated. That was a really rich discussion.

61:09 - And I look forward to more such conversation and exchange.

61:14 - So I think Angela, we can stop the recording. .