Pandemics Issue Receives $10,000 Award

The editors of the IsisCB Special Issue on Pandemics, Stephen Weldon and Neeraja Sankaran, have received a $10,000 award from the University of Oklahoma’s Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts seed grant program. The grant will help us complete the labor intensive work of entering citation data and editing articles written for a new-format research tool: “a narrated repository of bibliographical sources on the history of epidemics and pandemics.”

As described in the proposal, the project innovates in three areas. First and most important, the project builds content in the Isis Bibliography by commissioning essays from historians of medicine and science on subfields in the area of pandemics and epidemics. In addition to writing these essays, authors also submit bibliographical lists of citations to be added to the IsisCB database. The completed project has two parts: (1) the online publication of a special issue of the Isis Bibliography, containing the essays and the individual bibliographies, and (2) the interlinking of the citations with the essays themselves. It is this latter project that Weldon is calling a narrated bibliographical repository because it merges search engine functionality with scholarly analysis.

The second area of innovation is the open peer review system that we have adopted. Open peer review is now used among many of the sciences, but it is highly uncommon in the humanities. Open peer review means that anyone can see the entire review process. Readers have access to all versions of the article and are able read the peer reviews and editors reports for each version. The great advantage of this system is rapid availability of the most up-to-date material. Well in advance of the completion of the special issue, people can go to the site and read essays in various stages of review and acceptance.

Third, the project exemplifies how digital publication can be built rapidly and effectively with common digital resources. The publication workflow for this project was developed in a few weeks last summer with the help of an OU staff member, Dr. John Stewart, Assistant Director at the Office of Digital Learning. It utilizes Google Sheets, an HTML index page, and simple scripting to build a flexible and efficient web publication tool.

Stephen Weldon is the History of Science Society Bibliographer and Neeraja Sankaran is a historian of the biomedical sciences currently a visiting scholar at Utrecht University.

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