About THL > Participation & Support > Scholarly Participation In THL > Why Should I Participate In THL?
Value to individual scholars. Given the limits of time and the plurality of publishing options scholars have available to them, an important question is just why one should invest one's time and energies in submitting scholarly products to THL. Firstly, we would point to the traditional reasons why scholars publish in standard academic formats. THL provides refereed, academic credit to scholars that can be used for promotion and tenure in their professional careers. We currently offer traditional, refereed credit for journal articles through our hosting of the Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. In addition, our Encyclopedias of Tibet and the Himalayas publishes essays on a wide variety of topics and also provides refereed academic credit. We are also in the process of creating a system for the review of larger projects, once they are completed, so that these too can be formally listed on resumes and used for professional reports. Finally, we are also exploring a long term system of providing participants annual reports detailing in statistical form the full nature and scope of their participation, such as number of dictionary words, images, gazetteer entries and so forth submitted. In contrast to traditional publishers, however, THL provides permanent and free dissemination, such that your materials potentially have broader availability than they would in traditional publication formats. In addition, THL's evolving high profile guarantees people will know and find your work, in contrast to the possibility of being lost on a small, local Web site.
In addition, THL also provides a publishing venue for materials that otherwise might languish without publication due the constraints of traditional publishing venues. This includes materials that are extremely granular, such as the study of a single word, place, or summary of a chapter, and materials that are quite extensive and highly technical such that their audiences are limited. Thus, THL enables scholars to get credit for work which otherwise could never be formally disseminated, as well as enables that work to be made accessible to others. In addition, THL allows flexible publishing formats, so that the same item can be displayed in different forms for different audiences.
Another new publishing possibility is the ability for scholars to incorporate new media into their work beyond the printed text, such as photos, audio, video, three-dimensional resources and other materials. THL also enables scholars to embed reference resources into their publications, such that lexical studies, bibliographies, biographical studies, and other such resources can be linked to directly from a reference, whether or not the author of the essay created those reference resources personally.
This points to another benefit of THL publication, namely the synergy of being able to refer to and incorporate THL components created by other THL participants. Likewise, the structure of THL promotes implicit and explicit relationships between scholarship from other disciplines. This interdisciplinary orientation provides exciting intellectual possibilities and practices that are stifled by the present institutional arrangements of the Academy. THL's standards and communication procedures also enable greater collaboration in scholarship.
Finally, all of the above benefits are dependent upon the flexible, intelligent, and powerful use of new digital technologies. However, the creation of such technologies is expensive and time consuming. Thus, one of the great advantages of THL is that it provides powerful, integrated, and standards-based technology to its participants so they can concentrate on scholarship and content.
Value to Tibetan and Himalayan Studies and the Academy. As detailed in the section on the value to individual scholars, THL encourages new interdisciplinary and collaborative relationships, thereby addressing one of the major challenges to any field of area studies, and indeed to the Academy overall. In addition, its provision of publishing venues for work that otherwise languishes on private hard drives and vanishes upon a scholar's death greatly expands the public access to high-quality scholarly knowledge and thus advances the field more rapidly. Its flexible and pluralistic publishing formats allow the Academy to publish both more specialized materials and more publicly accessible works, often in the same resource (through showing/concealing various components).
THL also enables scholarship to increasingly reach beyond strictly textual presentations to incorporate rich visual materials, audio-video, statistical data sets, and other types of resources. These types of materials allow for greater forms of accessible content, integration of content, and other positive benefits.
Value to Tibetans and Himalayans THL was founded by scholars with a strong sense of ethical commitment to the residents of the areas they study, namely Tibet and the Himalayas. Our goal was to build a project which meets that responsibility in concrete ways, such that our scholarly activity could benefit residents of Tibet and the Himalayas. The following represent the positive benefits that we believe THL can help accomplish in partnership with other organizations:
- enable the active participation of Tibetan and Himalayan scholars in international partnerships
- publish scholarly resources in Tibetan and Himalayan languages
- help educators and the public in Tibetan and Himalayan areas gain access to knowledge from other parts of the world
- support NGOs and community organizations aimed at improving education and health care, preserving and strengthening traditional artisan practices, promoting eco-tourism, preserving local languages and cultural practices
- support community partnerships and communication across different sectors of society
- gain access to the tools and benefits of modern digital technology
We are presently in the process of developing a new site that documents in detail our suggested procedures and actual projects in relationship to accomplishing these aims.