SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Founded in 1965, SAGE also publishes under the popular Corwin, CQ Press, and SAGE Reference imprints, among others.
In this post, Todd Baldwin, Executive Director of Online Library & Reference Publishing at SAGE, discusses his personal and professional philosophies, what makes the company stand out, the people served and the needs addressed by their titles, and one SAGE title on GVRL that gives him particular pride.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about SAGE. Describe what makes SAGE unique.
I’ve been in publishing for 30 years, first with a large commercial publisher, and then for 14 years with a small, nonprofit, mission-driven press. I joined SAGE just 4 years ago. I’ve always believed that ideas and scholarship should make a difference—should inform decisions, make policy more effective, and improve quality of life.
I have three children, and my wife and I have done our best to impress on all of them, that while we want them to be successful, we also want them to make the world a better place. One is studying wildlife biology and is interested in conservation; the other, a psychology/philosophy major is interested in social justice. I think that for each, the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of a higher good are one and the same thing, and that academic rigor is a pathway to both. By helping to bring rigorous scholarship, presented in a balanced, interesting way to students, we help them to view information more critically—to become better thinkers and researchers, either in an academic setting or a professional one. That makes them better at understanding and addressing the issues they face. I’m thrilled to be a part of SAGE because it takes the motivation that led me into the nonprofit world and harnesses it to the power of a leading independent academic publisher.
For whom do you design your titles, and why do you target this particular audience?
SAGE Reference titles are designed primarily for undergraduate college and university students, across many disciplines, and neophytes in a particular area (so, it could also include an educator seeking basic info in a related field s/he is exploring but has no background in). This audience is aligned with the audience targeted by our Books Division at SAGE, and the encyclopedia format best serves a neophyte audience. More and more undergraduate students are being asked to do research and are thrown headfirst into the literature of a field with little context for understanding that literature, e.g. whether a particular article is foundational to a field or inconsequential, whether it is mainstream or contrarian, whether it is widely cited or not at all, etc. Our encyclopedias provide a firm, grounded first step into a topic or field so that students have a better grasp of the research.
Of which title on GVRL are you most especially proud? What makes it stand out?
We’re proud of all of them, but I’d point to the Encyclopedia of Social Media and Politics as an exemplar of a genre in our list: It presents an emerging canon of scholarship in a cutting-edge field. It is both deeply grounded in the literature and embraces current student interests and curricular needs.
What needs do your titles address to help further scholarship or learning?
As I’ve noted, our encyclopedia entries provide students who are embarking on a research project or journey with an initial foothold on a topic by giving them a quick, balanced overview. They may also be able to obtain such info on the open Web via a Google search, but that will likely provide them with as many as 50,000 unvetted hits from unknown or dubious sources, leaving them to wade through and attempt to select that which seems “right.” We help vet, filter, and cut through the weeds to provide a high-quality summary of information. And just as importantly, we provide References & Further Readings to then guide them on to the next step in their research journey—again, to quality, vetted sources.
About the Author
Todd Baldwin has been in the publishing business for 30 years. In 2010, he joined CQ Press to lead the CQ Press Reference program. In 2013 he took his current role, leading the editorial development of SAGE Reference, SAGE Research Methods, CQ Researcher, SAGE Stats, and other online resources for academic libraries. Todd and his wife have three sons, two in college, and live in Takoma Park, MD, with their youngest son Adrian and their dog Penny.