Priceless PublishingA different way of thinking about scholarly work.
Traditional standards, new paths.
Amherst College seeks to foster the creation of knowledge at the meeting-points of ideas, disciplines, and intellectual perspectives. As a community of scholars, we seek to engage with our colleagues everywhere doing work at the frontiers of their fields. And as a college dedicated to preparing the most promising students to seek, value, and advance knowledge throughout their lives, Amherst has a deep commitment to the fundamental premise that encouraging the exploration of ideas, and communicating those ideas as scholarship and artistic expression, improves the welfare and well-being of all people.
Accordingly, Amherst College has established the Amherst College Press at a moment when the communication of ideas between scholars, students, and readers is hampered by considerations of profit and ownership. While these objectives are legitimate, they should not exclusively determine the means by which those who bring new ideas to their fields of study communicate with their peers. As we encourage the full range of intellectual exploration through protecting the integrity of academic freedom, so we are determined to facilitate the free exchange of ideas by working to break down any and all barriers inhibiting that communication.
Our objectives are:
- To find and present scholarship integrating ideas across disciplines, cultures, languages, and fields of study; and, remembering Amherst’s commitment to excellence in teaching, particularly seek out scholarship with particular promise for engaging and illuminating young minds at the beginning of serious intellectual engagement
- To engage faculty of Amherst College, and scholars with affiliations to the college, as an editorial board for the press, and through them assure that promising ideas are identified and scholarly merit assured through rigorous review
- To produce this scholarship in formats accessible to scholars and readers everywhere for no cost through the Internet, and at the lowest practical cost in print
In taking this step we seek to offer not only a different model for how the work of scholarly publishing can be done, but a voice not typically heard—from the distinctive perspective of a liberal-arts institution—among the institutions that produce published scholarship.
As a digital-first publisher we will look for fields of scholarship better served by the promise multimodal digital platforms than by the inherent limitations of print. We believe that the humanities, no less than the sciences, will benefit from avenues of scholarly communication freed from the boundaries of print—and that such works can be subjected to the same rigorous standards of scholarly evaluation as traditional works.
As an open access publisher, we are committed to the proposition that the necessary costs of assuring quality in the content, design, and durability of scholarly works should be seen as central to the mission of academic institutions. The market should neither limit access to scholarly work to those who can afford it, nor limit the range of ideas brought forward to those that have a paying audience. Accordingly, we look for works and fields:
- That have difficulty finding outlets for scholarship in the marketplace, yet have an engaged and productive community of researchers and a clear place in the curriculum.
- That have a global community of scholars often cut off from each other by means of pay walls and the sheer cost of access to printed materials.
- That might be best served by the development and support of formats other than the monograph for the communication of research and ideas.
As a publisher grounded in a liberal-arts institution, we represent a commitment on the part of Amherst College to expand its own understanding of its mission to encompass both the creation and the communication of ideas in academe.
This is, first, an expression of Amherst’s broader goal of strengthening its position as a “research college” over the years ahead. In its strategic planning, Amherst has committed itself to maintaining its long-held standards of excellence in teaching and in providing an unparalleled undergraduate experience, while at the same time fostering and encouraging the active engagement of faculty at the frontiers of research in their fields. A scholarly press is by its nature a liminal space where the work of a global community of scholars meets, and is supported by, the work of the scholars in a sponsoring institution—particularly by those who take on the leadership of the Press as members of the Editorial Board.