An interview with Billy Tringali on JAMS and Open Access

This week I had the opportunity to talk to Billy Tringali. If you don’t know Billy he worked in the Scholarly Commons as a graduate assistant from 2016-2018 and now works as a Law Librarian for Outreach at Emory University. Our conversation this week was about a passion project that he started during his time here at Illinois. Billy is the founding editor-in-chief of a brand new open access journal, The Journal of Anime and Manga Studies (JAMS). The first volume of JAMS came out recently so be sure to go take a look!

"JAMS" with orange book icon and a dark gray background

How does JAMS fit into a broader scholarly conversation? What gaps in scholarship are you addressing with this journal?

JAMS is currently the only open-access journal solely dedicated to publishing scholarly articles on anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. While there are other journals which publish works about anime, like the incredible Mechademia, they are not open-access. Anime and manga studies is such a diverse field, and there is a lot out there being published. The goal of the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies is to provide a space for academics, students, and independent researchers examining the field of anime, manga, cosplay, and fandom studies to access high-quality research about these topics and share their research with others.

Tell us about your experience working with the Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN). What advice do you have for scholars interested in using this resource?
Working with IOPN has been a dream. Such a qualified, helpful, and truly brilliant staff. If you want to use this resource (and why wouldn’t you?!) come prepared to work! JAMS went through a one-year long notes process before being accepted into IOPN, and they don’t publish low-quality work.
Did you always envision the journal as open access? Why or why not?
There was no point in time in which JAMS wasn’t going to be open-access. While I was attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had more than 14 million items at my fingertips. It was amazing. So much knowledge just a click away. In my coursework I learned how imperative information access is to scholarship, and I could only imagine how difficult it must be for scholars at smaller universities and outside the academe to find peer-reviewed research on this subject. JAMS aims to be part of that solution by publishing work that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.
What unique challenges do you encounter as a new open access journal that you were not expecting?
The truly worst (and also funniest, looking back) was the professor who doubled-over in laughter when I told them I was trying to start up an open-access journal about anime and manga. But for every person that scoffed at JAMS, there was another who was so interested and excited to see this project succeed. A wonderful lesson to learn as a young scholar was to persevere!
What are the advantages for scholars who publish their work under a creative commons license?
Publishing under a Creative Commons license allows your work to be seen by everyone. It’s as simple as that. Do you want people to see what you’ve made? Then a Creative Commons license is a great choice!
I know Anime and Manga studies is a small area for academic research in the United States. How has this impacted the peer review process? 
It’s actually not all that small! There are a wide variety of researchers doing work on anime and manga studies, they just all happen to be spread out among a number of fields! We have peer reviewers from a diverse set of backgrounds – from education, to information science, to fandom studies – who are all so passionate about anime and manga studies. Our peer reviewers do an incredible job strengthening the papers submitted to JAMS, and I am incredibly grateful for their willingness to dedicate time to this journal.
What are your hopes for the future of this publication? 
(Combining this the question that was above)
I mention this in my “Welcome from the Editor-in-Chief”, and I think I said it best there:
“I hope the Journal of Anime and Manga Studiescan exist as a space that publishes high-quality scholarship about anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. I hope that JAMS can bring visibility to the deeper meanings, understandings, and cultural significance of anime, manga, cosplay, and their fandoms. I hope that, in making JAMS open-access scholarship about anime and manga can be accessible to everyone, regardless of university affiliation. As Aramata Hiroshi and the Kyoto International Museum of Manga imbued a burning desire in me, I hope that the papers you will read in this journal imbue the same sense in you to do all you can for this fantastic art form.”

Our Graduate Assistants: Abigail Sewall

This interview is part of a continued series introducing our graduate assistants to our online community. These are some of the people you will see when you visit our space, who will greet you with a smile and a willingness to help! Say hello to Abigail Sewall!

What is your background education and work experience?

Before coming to graduate school, I was working as an administrator in standardized testing for a few years. I am a fountain of useless knowledge on most national standardized tests such as the GRE, SAT, and LSAT. The aspect of my job that I liked the most was talking to people and guiding them through what was inevitably one of the most stressful days of their life. I feel like the unique customer service environment of that job oddly enough prepared me well for working at a reference desk, especially during those stressful times of the semester where people are in panic mode. Before I worked in standardized testing I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder in Spanish Literature and Political Science. I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis in comparative politics on trust in the police in Latin American countries. Through this process I had to learn to do large scale data analysis using a large public opinion survey database. It was a challenging project but I got a lot of help from the library.

What led you to your field?

My love of libraries developed as an undergraduate. I loved working on research projects because it gave me an opportunity to talk to one of the librarians, explore the collections, and discover the seemingly endless resources available in the library. The library really enriched my academic experience in such a profound way I wanted to be able to share that experience with others and help make the magic happen. Librarianship is a great intersection of my interests because it is both an intellectually challenging field and performs a valuable service to the community.

What are your research interests?

Where to begin? I am currently really interested in Twitter data literacy. I use Twitter every day and I find it to be a rich source of political and social discourse. I like to see how text data extracted from the popular micro blogging platform is used to address a variety of research questions. I’ve done some research on institutional archiving of Twitter data, which allowed me to consider some of the ethical and cultural implications of collecting and storing social media data. I am now working on learning how to scrape data from Twitter using Python. Experimenting with Python has been interesting because I don’t come from a technical background but I am finding I make slow but sure progress with it. I am excited to see where it takes me and I may even try building my own Twitter database.

What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

One of my favorite projects I’ve worked on as a Scholarly Commons GA was developing resources for using US Census data for students and researchers. In the process of making our LibGuide on the Census I learned a lot about the census questionnaire and how researchers use census data. It was also a lot of fun to help my supervisor with the US Census workshop because I love instruction and it was a great opportunity to show my expertise.

What are some of your favorite underutilized Scholarly Commons resources that you would recommend?

Our LibGuides! We have dozens of guides on a variety of subjects such as software tutorials, data discovery, digital humanities, and more. Each guide has been thoughtfully assembled by one of our librarians or GAs and contain links to resources, advice, and information to suit all of your research technology needs. I taught myself how to use SPSS using our SPSS tutorial LibGuide and would highly recommend it to anyone! Check out all of our guides on our webpage!

What is the one thing you would want people to know about your field?

I think it is important for people to recognize that libraries are always a reflection of the community they serve. All the services we offer at the Scholarly Commons address a specific need of the scholars and students at our university. We provide a space for collaborative work, software and technology available no where else on campus, and instruction to supplement the resources in our unit. I hope in my career that I will be able to continue to serve the needs of my community, whatever they may be.