“Many Voices: Building a Consortium of Small Scholarly Societies in the Humanities”

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executive summary

As a collaborative group of faculty, scholarly publishers, and digital scholarship professionals, our 2016 Triangle SCI project team is collectively seeking a 12-month planning grant from the Mellon Foundation in the amount of $59,500 to explore the possibility of establishing a consortium of small scholarly societies (those with fewer than 1,000 members) in the humanities. The purpose of such a consortium would be to consolidate the recurrent and often time-consuming administrative functions that all scholarly societies face, but that are especially burdensome for small societies with limited or no professional staff. The ultimate aim of such an administrative consortium would be to allow these societies to focus their efforts on core activities and membership benefits—such as publishing a scholarly journal—rather than on the more mundane “business of the business.”

The planning grant will cover 12 months of research and analysis, which will include an in-person meeting involving the project team and stakeholders from a range of small scholarly societies to explore the consortium idea and an online survey of small-society officers based on the in-person discussion to further vet the idea. While the planning grant is meant to move us toward consortium-building, the centralization envisioned would be in service of several larger goals: to help small societies achieve financial stability through greater efficiencies; to support small societies’ efforts to develop scholars and academic leaders in their respective disciplines; and to provide a forum in which small societies can collectively consider potential alternative approaches to traditional publication, including open access.

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