By Master Sgt. Gary L. Qualls, Jr.April 22, 2016
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas -- The one year mark is soon approaching since the Army joined an association that puts it in company with organizations such as Rand Corporation and institutions the likes of Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, and Yale.
The organization is the Association of American University Presses. Considered a prestigious, highly credible association in academic circles, the AAUP promotes the work and influence of its presses, provides cooperative marketing opportunities, and helps its 138 members fulfill their commitments to scholarship, the academy, and society, according to its website. Specifically, the AAUP helps promote ideas and knowledge, universality, a free press, and offer credibility, marketing opportunities, and guidance in getting works published while also being a source for best practices for its member presses.
"We wanted to be included in a professional organization that lends credibility to our publications and processes," said Dr. Donald P. Wright, deputy director of Army Press, in explaining why the Army sought membership with AAUP. The Army Press is the only Department of Defense press that is a member of the association, he said.
Membership in AAUP was far from automatic. An AAUP representative came to Fort Leavenworth to observe and assess the Army Press' review process.
"They noted we have a certain standard of peer review and often make specific revisions to manuscripts a prerequisite for publishing them," Wright said. "Since our processes are similar to other member presses of the association we were ultimately accepted into it."
Military students also benefit from the enhanced credibility of being associated with an organization like AAUP.
"It adds validity to Army writing and puts us on par with other universities," Maj. Eric Mercer, a student at the Command and General Staff College here, said.
"As students, we need peer-reviewed articles for our classes and this association ultimately gives us access to them," explained Maj. Alex Kehler, another CGSC student, adding that it could help students get their significant papers published.
Association with AAUP will also help Soldiers gain credibility for their life experience in the Army, Mercer said. He cited the example of Army medics and how they have more experience with patients suffering from traumatic brain injury than any other medical professionals. However, despite their experience with the affliction, their published articles on the subject may lack prestige unless they are peer-reviewed, and published by an AAUP member press.
"Credibility helps with everything," Mercer said. "If Soldiers could get credit for their real life experiences in the military, such as is planned in the Army University concept, they could leave with a transcript and their experience would not be for nothing (academically)."
This could also help with reaching and recruiting millennials, he added, by giving them an additional incentive to join the service.
Wright pointed out that leadership and staff of the Army Press work for the Army and not for academia. The staff is comprised of Soldiers, civilians and defense contractors. However, membership in AAUP gives the Army Press benefits that enable it to be a value-added organization for the Army and the Department of Defense, he said.
Another benefit, in addition to credibility, is the fact that AAUP is a good resource.
"It gives us a connection with professionals in a way that we might not otherwise have," Wright said. This provides a good source for background information as well as a chance to see and learn from how other presses have tackled problems.
"It gives us a chance to tap into their 'lessons learned,'" Wright said.
AAUP also boasts giving member presses more editorial freedom than is sometimes seen in the mass media in this time of global mergers and consolidation in the industry. Wright noted the Army Press has always had an extensive amount of freedom, as can be seen in articles such as "Why we don't win wars" by Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) in the latest edition of the Army Press' flagship journal, "Military Review." However, the prestigious AAUP's policy on journalistic freedom does give greater weight to the Army Press in trying to create open forums to further enable professional discussion on Army issues.
"Membership in an association like AAUP sets a certain standard for the Army Press and prevents complacency," Wright said. "We're not just Army publishers -- but aspire to stand shoulder to shoulder with other prestigious institutions in the country."