August 1, 2007

MLA International Bibliography to Index Scholarly Web Sites

by Scott Rettberg · , 7:54 am

In one small step for literature on the web, the MLA International Bibliography has decided to index scholarly web sites including thematic research collections, electronic archives, portals, language maps, research tools, teaching tools, blogs, discussion list archives, and video presentations. It’s great to see the MLA begin to acknowledge that much of the conversation and practice of literary studies now takes place on the web. The guidelines for inclusion are however much in line with peer-review practices of print journals: each site must be examined by an indexer; relate to language and literature; identify the editor and editorial board; have a stated editorial policy; identify the publisher, sponsoring organization, or both; and provide for archiving. I’m not sure if literary sites that would clearly fall into the common practice of literature on the web, such as The Iowa Review Web, the electronic book review, or the Electronic Literature Collection would necessarily meet all of these criteria. Does the fact that ebr doesn’t have a formal editorial board, for instance, mean that it should not be indexed, in spite of the fact that it has been the home of high-quality literary discourse for more than a decade? It will be interesting to see how this project pans out. To bring web sites to the attention of the MLA for consideration in the bibliography, send an email message that includes the URL to

2 Responses to “MLA International Bibliography to Index Scholarly Web Sites”

  1. scott Says:

    Update: an email from the MLA

    Dear Mr. Rettberg:

    Thank you for alerting us to these web sites. We will index Electronic Book Review,and it will be included in our next update of the web site listings in the MLA International Bibliography this October. Information on the Iowa Review Web site can be found in our listing of the print version of this journal in our Directory of Periodicals. Electronic Literature Collection contains solely works of creative literature, and these are not indexed for the Bibliography at the present time.

    Thank you again for taking the time to send us these suggestions.

    Yours sincerely,
    Elizabeth Jardine
    Assistant Index Editor

    I think it’s great that the MLA will include ebr in the MLA International Bibliography, and applaud them for taking this step. I can understand their decision on the Electronic Literature Collection, which is essentially creative work with a layer of contextual apparatus. The Iowa Review Web however is a different publication from the print Iowa Review, and includes a good deal of critical work that I think should be in the bibliography.

  2. scott Says:

    Another update — after I pointed out the distinction between TIR Web and The Iowa Review, the MLA swiftly responded:

    Dear Professor Rettberg:
    We have approved Iowa Review Web for indexing in the MLA International Bibliography. We have sent the forms to the editor and will begin indexing as soon as we hear back from him.

    Thank you for your suggestions.
    David Wright
    Editor, Directory of Periodicals

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