Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Six Reasons JSTOR Daily Will Make a Good Composition Reader

Jennifer Howard has a blog post up at the Chronicle of Higher Ed (http://bit.ly/1ud2VoN) describing JSTOR Daily. Here's  a key description:
Aimed at general readers, the journal mixes shorter blog posts with longer reads, grouped into broad categories: Arts & Culture, Business & Economics, Science & Environment, and so on. The Civil War historian Megan Kate Nelson is writing a weekly column about historical and archival research. A specialist in green building design contributed a link-rich essay about why we need to get outside more.

Offbeat and lighter takes on scholarship are welcome. “The quirkiness is what’s a strength here,” the editor says. “We’re trying to cast a wide net here and be really eclectic,” sort of in the spirit of the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Conversation.

JSTOR Daily is free to read, as are the JSTOR articles it links to.

JSTOR Daily as a Reader

I work for Macmillan Higher Education, and Readers are a category of book we publish in composition. Readers collect essays, usually, but also excerpts from longer works sometimes. The writing may be scholarly or general interest, from all kinds of sources -- academic journals, scholarly Web sites, magazines, edited collections, and more. The thing which distinguishes a reader is the editorial work of selecting and grouping readings, and the pedagogical work the author who selects the readings puts into framing the pieces, supplying teaching apparatus. Apparatus might include biographical notes on the contributors, questions to consider before reading, questions for discussions, annotations on some essays to draw attention to the writer's method, grouping of readings by theme or issue, cross references to other pieces in the work, chapters written by author with his or her own advice -- ideas for assignments, writing advice, citation advice, and more.

JSTOR Daily is a journal, not a reader in the sense outlined above, but I think of it as a potential reader because a teacher with time can use JSTOR to supplement a publisher's reader.  And for teachers who don't use a publisher's reader but instead draw on the Web, put items on reserve in the library, or send students to their campus library databases, JSTOR Daily becomes another resource for finding good reading assignments, acting as a reader without apparatus.

Six At a Glance Reasons Why JSTOR Looks to Be Useful for Faculty and Students
  1. for students and faculty, it's free. More importantly, the articles referenced and linked to are free. So it provides gateways to all kinds of students and faculty, including those who may be at a college whose library does not subscribe to JSTOR. 
  2. for students, assignments that require them to read the journal and to read one or more of the essays the journal article links to, teaches them to follow sources. It builds an academic skill.
  3. for students, it's a good writing resource, a place to send to go in search of things to write about, conversations their own writing can join, and writing examples they can study for writing craft.
  4. for students, it shows writers connecting scholarship, sometimes old scholarship, to everyday things. Seeing the connection of scholarship to the issues of the day, to ones own life, can help improve intrinsic motivations for learning (At the very least, it certainly cannot hurt them.).
  5. for teachers who do remix assignments, or assignments that ask students simply to write an academic essay and also on the same topic, to create an essay, or brochure, or presentation, or video, or some other format for a different audience and purpose, this journal will exhibit some of that.
  6. for faculty who like to draw on scholarship yet write with more freedom from the kind of academic, scholarly prose habits and conventions Steven Pinker curmudgeonly says leads to too much academic writing that stinks (http://t.co/A0uKHJJQhc), then playing in this journal, with its invitation to quirkiness, might be fun.

1 comment:

Aaron Barlow said...

Thanks, Nick! This relates well to something I have been developing, "The 'Make It New' Project," where I also want to cross between general and scholarly audiences and make use of archived material. I am quite excited to see the JStor Daily.