Interesting article at The Chronicle of Higher Ed “Ditch the Monograph.” I wouldn’t go so far as to follow the title’s incendiary imperative, but e-publishing smaller works does seem like a distinct possibility. Somewhere in between a 25-page journal article and a 250-page book. It might actually improve the discussion among EMEMH if more (shorter, more focused) works were published – quicker to publication, more timely, more possibility for real substantive debate.
In addition to decreasing the delays between submission and ‘publication,’ as well as the lower costs, it also makes sense in a world where most consumers of the average academic monograph read just one or two chapters rather than slog through the book as a whole. Not that I’ve ever done that.
For my money though, I’d want the hybrid genre (monoessay? essaygraph? monoarticle?) to take advantage of the possibilities of the dynamic digital domain: graphic visualization, animation, semantic markup, links to other content such as sources… Particularly important for me would be more data-dense argumentation, i.e. illustrating that the author isn’t just cherry-picking a few quotes here and there and then making a grand theory out of it. Not that anyone’s ever done such a thing in EMEMH. (On a related note, sometime I’ll post my thoughts on how we can keep authors honest with the Ostwald Review Index.)