The typical researcher plans their education in ways in which they will learn everything they need to know to embark on a career in a specialized field. They’ll be considered an expert in their scope of practice, going miles deep in that area. But when their work only focuses on that particular specialty, it is usually published as a monograph. And today’s digital-publishing expectations are slowly pushing monographs to the side, making them obsolete.
Because the best way to make an impact is to attract a wide audience, scholars are now encouraged to work with others, interact with their readers, and promote work on a wider level than their original expertise. In other words, historical scholarship as it once was known, in the form of monographs, is being reshaped and restructured in today’s new world where the rules of the Digital Age prevail.
What is a Monograph?
The term “monograph” has many nuances. It’s used in multiple subjects differently, but as far as it pertains to science and scholarship, monographs are books that are considered primary materials rather than reference works.
The researcher’s writing in a monograph is geared towards a specific subject or an element of that subject. Most often, monographs are written by one author, in contrast to many of today’s digital publishing sources that are co- or multi-authored.
In libraries, monographs are categorized as publications that have no, or limited, series to them because all the information is complete in one book, or a finite number of books in the series. This is in comparison to publications such as journals, magazines, and newspapers, in which every volume is in a serial order.
Benefits of Monographs
Monographs have always served a purpose, which is why they have been integral in humanistic scholarship for centuries. While the world of academia must continue to evolve to keep up with the times, there must be a way to balance this evolution and these adaptations and continue to keep traditions alive. Monographs are still the preferred way to get information on a specialized subject to a narrow audience, but because of impactfulness and the ratings on scholars it provides, the benefits of these primary sources must be considered and understood in order for them to reach a wider readership.
Monographs are still the go-to, preferred publications for users to incorporate into the research, to decide how to structure their work, and to guide them in writing their papers. Primary sources are original writings in which authors explain their postulations and theories on a particular subject in detail. These are extremely beneficial when a researcher is trying to compile evidence on a theoretical subject. Secondary sources can also be monographs, though. These types of beneficial books are written to analyze, interpret, and/or critique an original primary source and are often used to discuss literature or an individual’s biography.
How the Digital Era is Affecting Research with Monograph Use
Traditionalists understand the value of long-form scholarship that the monograph offers. There are many people who want to preserve this form of writing in the humanities and other branches of science, but the Digital Era is affecting how this is extended.
Instead, some researchers are attempting to combine the digital world and traditional methods through developmentation of funding that supports digital monograph publication. These submissions would then be made available through open access forums, combining features that are unique to the monograph style of writing with digital aspects.
Continuing to publish monographs in this way would be shaping a brand new way for scholars to thrive in areas like humanities that have recently been pushed to the side in importance as technology, healthcare, and economic solutions become the predominant landscape.
With open access publication as a hybrid to long-form scholarship, monographs will reach wider audiences, thus negating the major drawback to this type of research submission. Monographs tend to have the highest quality of information since they are driven towards one subject deeply, so they are valuable to researchers and those seeking information on the topic.
As more people learn the importance of monographs and how to merge them with the digital world of today, tradition and adaptation of modern expectations will combine and flourish.