Karen Hellekson, one of my dear SFRA friends and the editor of the first book that I had an article appear in, rallies the humanities troops in favor of useful and direct abstracts and titles. She begins her stirring call for more description and information in those tiny signposts that lead others to our work by writing:
A recent spate of research I’m conducting, which has included some data input into Zotero, has only reaffirmed my belief that the sciences can teach the humanities much. I’m not just talking about quick peer review turnaround times and wait times to publication that don’t stretch into years. I’m talking about something simple, something basic: abstracts and titles.
Admittedly I am coming at this from the point of view of an unaffiliated scholar. Getting access to texts is a huge chore. I can’t just magically obtain something and flip through it to see if it’s what I need. I have to research it first, then decide if I want it, and then decide if it rates being one of the five books I can request at one time. I can’t possibly be the only person who wishes that I could figure out what something was about without actually having to read it.
Heed my call, journals and scholars in the humanities! Abstracts and titles. Please, I beg you, make them count. Let’s follow the example of the sciences here.
Karen: I heed your call.