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Academic cultures: Research communication in the Humanities


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Honours College Humanities Lab.
Students in the first year of their bachelor’s programme who achieve good academic results and are very motivated, may apply for a place in Humanities Lab.


Students in the Humanities Lab come from a wide range of programmes – from African to Urban Studies, to name just two options – that each have their own specific knowledge base and research skills set, which are transferred in regular classes. Universities train students in these specific disciplines, to grow from undergraduate to post-graduate level, and become scholarly authors.

However, we don’t often pause to reflect on the processes through which scholarly findings are communicated, within academia and to other interested audiences. Scholars have their own habits to produce research results and formally share them with colleagues, through the age-old tradtions of writing books and journal articles. Yet in the 21st century, they also blog, vlog, draft preprints, engage in online discussions, create games, give interviews, and much more besides. Communicating research is crucial for individual scholars, and for the public perception of academia as a whole.

In this course, we will analyse the practices in a variety of Humanities research fields (among which, but not exclusively, the students’ own). Through interdiscplinary comparison, we can identify particular expectations and habits that usually remain implicit, and discuss them. How do different fields think about publishing in other languages than English, for instance? How seriously do different disciplines regard new genres, like blogs, vlogs, and posts on social media? Scholars are colleagues as well as competitors: how do they gain prestige?

We will further contextualise research communciation by analysing the relationships between academia, scholarly publishing, and research policies. Here, we will not shy away from diverging interests and tense debates. How do the ideals of Open Access and Open Science translate into policies that impact communication practices in academia; in the Netherlands, and internationally? Do scholarly authors even need publishers and libraries, now that they can distribute any communications online themselves?

This course challenges students to analyse and critically reflect on scholarly authorship, research communication, and academic publishing in the Humanities.

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Gain insight in the existing scholarly fields in the Humanities and the communication practices within them;

  • Develop an understanding of the distinct epistemology and social organisation of Humanities scholarship in particular, within academia in general;

  • Reflect on the formal and informal communication practices in the discourse of their own field of study;

  • Develop a synthesis of the values, norms, and expectations that these scholarly cultures share;

  • Be able to recognize dynamics of potentially conflicting interests between stakeholders in scholarly communication;

  • Share their critical reflections with fellow students from other scholarly fields in oral presentation and written communications.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Humanities Lab courses are usually scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.30 to 17h.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


The final product of the course is a Portfolio consisting of four different assignments, selected by the student from a range of options (for instance: a book review, an interview, a public outreach video, etc.) presented at the beginning of the course. One of these assignments must be collaborative; one must be a video-presentation. Each assignment will count towards 25% of the course grade.


The final mark for the course is established by (i) determination of the weighted average of the four assignments in the portfolio, combined with the additional requirement (ii) that three out of four assignments be sufficient (graded 6.0 or up).


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursions, etc.). If you are unable to attend, notify the lecturer (listed in the information bar on the right) in advance. Being absent may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.


Students may take a resit for any portfolio assignment, to meet the criteria established above.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. Students can requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results.

Reading list

Required reading:

  • Rick Anderson, Scholarly Communication: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). ISBN: 9780190639457 (paperback), online available via Leiden University Library.

Recommended additional reading (excerpts of which will feature in the course):

  • Cassidy R. Sugimoto & Vincent Larivière, Measuring research: What everyone needs to know (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

  • Helen Small, The Value of the Humanities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

  • Amanda Makula, Power, profit, and privilege: Problematizing scholarly publishing (PressBooks, 2022).


Students participating in this module will be enrolled in MyStudymap by the Education Administration Office of Humanities Lab. Students can register for the Humanities Lab modules about two to three weeks before the start of the module through an online form. On this form students indicate the modules in order of their preference. The coordinators assign students to a module based on their preference and bachelor’s programme, in order to create a diverse group of students and equal amount of students per module. Usually students get assigned to the module of their first or second choice. More information and the link to the form will be provided by Umail.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.
Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.