Statement on Electronic Publication

The MLA believes that electronic publishing in the humanities is a rich medium for the dissemination of scholarly work and that its continuing development offers exciting possibilities.

Scholarly journals have published electronically for decades, and this format has become a standard for scholarly communication. While some electronic journals were initially published in print form and have since migrated to electronic forms, other highly respected titles have always existed only in a digital format. Indeed, for some disciplines the leading journals are exclusively digital. More recently, presses have begun to release scholarly monographs and long-form scholarship in digital form. Electronic publishing has become increasingly commonplace; therefore, scholars at all levels publish their research in electronic formats because of comparative advantages in distribution, discovery, and retrieval. Furthermore, scholarly publications in electronic form allow for the incorporation of multimedia features, the inclusion of a fuller set of source materials in support of the primary text, the provision of underlying data sets for readers to review, or the use of dynamic presentation tools to convey their arguments. 

Electronically published journal articles, monographs, and long-form scholarship are viable and credible modes of scholarly publication. For the purposes of hiring, reappointment, tenure, and promotion, departments evaluating scholarly publications should judge journals, monographs, or other substantial scholarly works according to the same criteria, whether they are published in digital or print formats. For electronically published scholarship, these criteria may include a journal's peer-review policy, its rate of acceptance, the nature of its editorial board and publisher, a press’s rigor in editorial process, and the general profile of the journal or press in the field it covers. Electronic publications should receive credit comparable to that given to print publications.

These guidelines were last revised by the Committee on Information Technology in October 2014 and approved by the MLA Executive Council at its February 2015 meeting. The original guidelines were approved by the council at its October 2003 meeting.