Tim Bulkeley’s Not only a Father: an experiment in e-theology

Dr Tim Bulkeley, of Carey Baptist College, NZ, has recently published a monograph based on his doctoral work on naming God. Alongside the print publication, Tim has put the entire book up on a website, with the facility for comment and discussion attached to each paragraph. I am sure the web will change the way we engage with academic literature, but I haven’t seen a good example of that happening yet; Tim’s experiment is an interesting one which might help us explore one potential way forward.

You can read the book and interact with it and other readers here – or buy it in a more traditional format here (Amazon.com – amazon.co.uk does not seem to have it listed yet).


  1. shaun lambert
    Oct 12, 2012

    I was talking to an academic just 3 hours ago who said that he thinks academics are too precious about their work and need to make it more available…sounds like it could start a trend.

    • steve
      Oct 12, 2012

      Hi Shaun, thanks for stopping by.
      It’s complicated: there is an older tradition, thankfully passing, of despising the ‘plebs’ and rejoicing in the obscurity and unavailability of one’s work; alongside that, there is a perceived hierarchy of publishers which to some extent is defined by this tradition – real academic publishers sell ridiculously expensive books in tiny quantities, and those of us who publish in paperback are sometimes told we are harming our career by so doing.
      That said, peer review remains a gold standard: if OUP publish a book, the whole has been read beforehand by other experts in the field who have said it is good enough, and this counts for a lot in terms of reputation, and so promotion opportunities &c. for the author. Peer review costs money and takes time; and the economics of publishing then intrude, even if the author is not looking to make a penny…
      There’s a big debate about ‘open access’ journal publication at the moment; the problem is, someone has to pay somewhere. If it is free to read, the author will have paid to get it published, which could end up restricting publication to academics within the richest universities, who can afford to pay the fees to publish their stuff.
      So even if an academic is positively eager to get stuff out to be read, there are reputational and economic barriers to making it freely available like this.

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