lifecourse of a paper

Working on a paper and proposal that both involved life-course explanations of social phenomena, I realized that my papers have a life-course of their own. I thought I would share:

  • Birth. This is the first glimmer of a new idea. Unfortunately, nature is cruel and mortality at this stage is very high. Some ideas are truly great, but are lost by the time I leave the department/committee/research meeting in which I had their first glimmer. Others were really stillborn: good in principle, impractical in reality. Others needed to be culled for the good of my brood of other, unfinished papers

Continue reading “lifecourse of a paper”

fundraising to digitize ASA journal archives

There are 588 boxes of materials from the ASA’s journals (American Sociological Review, Contemporary Sociology, Contexts, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Psychological Quarterly, Sociological Methodology, Sociological Theory, Sociology of Education, and Teaching Sociology) that have been housed at Penn State that are now slated to be shredded and destroyed unread unless funds can be raised to digitize them first. As concerned scholars say: “These unique documents cover an era of major change in the intellectual, organizational, and social-demographic composition of the discipline of sociology. Sociologists in a variety of fields have recently attested to the significance of the data contained in these records for studying the development of all subfields of the discipline, as well as for research in the areas of science/knowledge, social networks, race/gender/class, higher education, the history of sociology, sociological theory, political sociology, and public sociology.”

After much acrimonious debate at ASA Council about whether on principle the records should ever be released due to tradeoffs between historical value and legal/ethical concerns about privacy & confidentiality (the archive includes draft MSS later revised, confidential reviews, and internal memos), as well as debates about the cost of the archiving, the compromise achieved at ASA was to allow concerned parties to do a fundraising campaign to amass the estimated $120,000 it will cost to digitize the archives. As you doubtless know if you are on ASA mailing lists, this fundraising campaign is underway. You can learn about it and click a donate now button at http://saveourarchivalrecords.org. ASA has about 14,000 members, making the per capita cost about $10/member, although of course many members are students or underemployed. Small contributions are welcome and larger contributors are invited to donate $200 to “adopt a box.”

The ASA has vowed to shred all documents whose digitization has not been paid for by June 15, 2015.

Edit: There was an extensive orgtheory  discussion of this last Februrary, where we debated the confidentiality concerns and the historical value of these archives, but could not find that discussion in a Google search. Please drop a comment if you can locate these substantive debates. http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/a-note-from-alan-sica-about-archive-preservation/

(I couldn’t find it in the scatterplot archives because that isn’t where it is!)