I recently presented at the SBL in a section in which John F. Kutsko, executive director of SBL, also presented. He shared about funding the Society has received to pursue the development of SBLCentral, which “…envisions a highly customized and automated research platform…”. “The research platform would provide access to specialized content, including books, reviews, journal abstracts, and conference papers, and would deliver custom alerts to users when new research-specific resources are published.” He indicated it may be available as soon as next year, likely nearer the end of the year.
SBLCentral takes your SBL profile, in which you specify the research subjects in which you are interested, and automatically send you alerts when relevant articles, books, book reviews, and so on, appear. He indicated it would be highly customisable.
The title and abstract of Kutsko’s presentation are included in full below:
Building a Digital Platform that Serves Research and Supports Publishing
This paper will first describe the raison d’être of the Review of Biblical Literature in 1998 and how and why it became SBL’s most active digital resource. RBL’s impact on research and scholarly publishing has been significant in a field marked by many methodologies and specializations, as well as by a significant publishing output. Can RBL provide a proof of concept for something bigger, an online research platform that responds to a perfect storm of challenges that face academic publishers and researchers? Building on its strengths and recognizing new challenges, two years ago SBL undertook a new phase in RBL’s evolution that will harness more digital tools, metadata, tagging, and community. A project called SBLCentral envisions a highly customized and automated research platform that could serve as a model for any field in humanities and social sciences, and could integrate them as well in interdisciplinary study. The research platform would provide access to specialized content, including books, reviews, journal abstracts, and conference papers, and would deliver custom alerts to users when new research-specific resources are published. An exploratory grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will help SBL refine this project and solicit feedback from scholars, publishers, librarians, and other associations. This paper will outline the project, update members on its development, invite interaction, and discuss next steps. Third, the paper will highlight higher-ed-wide issues on how to sustain digital humanities in general and projects such as this one in particular. How can and should a learned society uniquely serve its guild? How can the members of that society produce new layers of crowd-sourced, peer-reviewed content? How can we, as a scholarly community, commit to resources that are widely accessible as well as sustainable?