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En guise d'introduction

Around CeROArt and the EGG issues

Muriel Verbeeck-Boutin
Autour de CeROArt et des publications EGG  [fr]


This article is a version of the talk given at the ICOM-CC Copenhagen colloquium.

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1The following text is based on the talk presented on September 16th 2017 in Copenhagen. The text published by ICOM-CC concerns all the issues (regulars or special) of CeROArt. For the talk, we have chosen to focus the speech on EGG issues.


  • 1 Muriel Verbeeck, How to encourage conservators to produce knowledge. The CeROArt ‘lab’: Looking bac (...)

2This communication is based on two experiences, closely linked: that of a professor at the departement of conservation of Saint Luc -Liège,  and that of an editor and a publisher of a scientific journal. As the article published by ICOM-CC1 develops the philosophy and realization of CeROArt more widely, I will concentrate on the special issues intended for the young recently graduated conservators. What follows is to be taken as empirical approach of a very concrete problem: how to transform the students in conservation into producers of knowledge, into authors of scientific articles?

The CeROArt project

3The original idea was to offer a conservation journal, with special emphasis on conservators, and "first-time authors". The professionals to whom we were open about the project, including prominent figures all responded positively to our approach (Paul Philippot, Roger Marijnissen, Ségolène Langle-Bergeon, Catheline Périer D'Ieteren, Gael de Guichen…). They lent us their reputation and their signature to endorse the first issues. Today, CeROArt is divided into regular publications (on a predefined theme), special issues (featuring study days, and symposiums) and finally EGG publications (EGG for European Graduates Generation), exclusively for young graduates. The journal is in open access without any A.P.C. (article processing charge).

4CeROArt is a peer-reviewed journal. Peer reviewing is provided free of charge; it is considered a service to the scientific community. The first people who agreed to be peer reviewers were academics, mainly art historians. Among them, those who had a close link with the world of conservation-restoration were favoured, especially those working in institutions (e.g. IRPA). The reviewing process is double-blind: the reviewer does not know the author and vice versa. Once an article has been proofread by the reviewer, the comments and the evaluation sheet are returned to the editorial committee which returns them to the authors, sometimes with a few additional details. The author and the reviewer are rarely in direct contact, except at the reviewer’s suggestion in order to support the author in a ‘complicated’ correction.

5The total lack of financial resources and the idea of a wide distribution led us to digital publishing. The Open Access platform, chose CeROArt's application to integrate its new portal for human sciences journals, from its second issue. From two thousand eight, we benefited from free logistics and support from this outstanding team. The template for our journal and the shared publishing software for the portal (Lodel) have been made available to us. In 2018, changed his name to


Fig.1, qui s'est métamorphosé en OpenEdition, a accueilli CeROArt dès son deuxième numéro.


6Publishing texts in French does not pose any particular problem. But from the initial project, we wanted to open the review up to contributions in English. This decision met with an important problem. We publish authors from all over Europe. English is not their native language. Our peer reviewers are able to judge content, but not necessarily to edit the format in a language that is not their own, too. Hence the excessive workload for native English reviewers. We need help and we are looking for new English-native editors.

The CeROArt laboratory

7CeROArt is a tool for a project. This project concerns education and training: learning to communicate as a conservator in accordance with the standards of scientific publishing. In this sense, CeROArt is a laboratory, and we, as lab technicians, also learn by teaching. I would like to share some general observations.

Learning to read

8Those who wish to write do not always know how to read. Calls for papers always refer to the editorial charter, each point of which is designed solely to optimise our work. It seems that for many authors, the concept of the "editorial rule" (unless it is the very word "rule") is culturally difficult to incorporate. Sometimes, the reason for the rules has to be explained to stubborn authors and they even need to be justified to some obstinate individuals. Furthermore, deadlines, usually well respected in the Anglo-Saxon world and widely in Northern Europe, lose their importance as we head towards the Mediterranean.

9These problems are not anecdotal; they reflect an essential quality in conservation, that of rigour. It is clear that it is acquired at very mixed levels.

Learning to write

10Students in conservation are faced, during their studies, with writing reports. There are templates for these that often, they are happy to reproduce, the description taking precedence over the analysis. Training courses that require the writing of a thesis demand more ambitious skills.

11But the qualities required for a scientific article are quite different; there is no need to write a description, let alone an abstract, the article must target a problem, setting it out clearly, with a logical sequence, making good use of references.

12A scientific article is primarily a structure. We believe that the poster would be a good preparatory exercise to be considered for training courses. This graphic presentation requires a methodical approach (introduction – problem - operating method – analysis – results - conclusions) in an extremely concise and illustrated presentation. The Pecha-Kucha exercise (presentation of twenty PowerPoint slides shown for twenty seconds each) may also prove interesting.

13It should be emphasised that in addition to a structure, a good article includes an original reflection and approach which is communicated through an (if possible attractive) composition. Young conservators must be encouraged to read some classical texts about conservation (from Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, 1996), as well as the leading journals. Need we point out that conservation training is based on sciences AND humanities? The humanities do not depend on a theoretical culture, but on a practical ability to think and theorise, which should also be exercised practically, by producing a written work. Thus, beyond simply writing, it is essential to be able to write well.

Learning to reference

14It might be surprising to see messages from young conservators on social networks asking for help: "bibliography needed". It is essential to teach about existing resources, the methods of database research, the principles of Boolean query... and the benefit of extensive literature. Courses do not always make room for lessons on documentary research methodology. For those that do, or plan to, many exercises should focus on writing a "state of the art review", which seems poorly mastered. Eighty % of submitted papers are critically lacking in their bibliography and its critical approach. All too often, our reviewers note that bibliographic choices are made according to the native language; this is a critical bias. It is important to reject this ease, which lies in specific methodological cultures and which is also a form of intellectual arrogance.

Learning humility

15Many young authors react irritably to criticism. If they have achieved a good result during their course, they tend to overvalue and overestimate themselves; they find it difficult to tolerate simply lukewarm assessments on what they have produced. It is thought-provoking to read their reactions in the face of distinguished opinions, given by experts. Some prefer to withdraw their text, rather than amend it. Others express their disagreement inappropriately (in terms of manner and even politeness) or downright aggressively.

16To my mind, humility is an essential quality in conservation, it should be constantly referred to within the courses. There is every reason to fear pride and presumption, because the mind guides the hand, and too much self-confidence means taking risks and making mistakes - on a practical level too.

Questioning the educational support

17With regards the EGG publications, there are three levels of peer review: the article submitted by the first-time author must be endorsed by a teacher of the training, who checks the content and format. But in fact, there are surprising disparities between the texts that are submitted, which is evidence of very different requirement levels depending on the Trainings... or more often demonstrates the personal involvement of a teacher, who voluntarily takes on the revision.

18Regardless of the stated "failings", the improvement in quality, in ten years, is obvious. The reason for this is simple; in two thousand seven there was not a single publication of this type, which could be used as a model. Today, the journal is self-referential in this approach and the best articles of the previous issues act as emulators.

19The development is not unrelated to the outstanding work of the reviewers; some have performed miracles in terms of educational methods. They have commented, annotated, conducted several revisions and sometimes guided the re-writing of the same text. Some authors, as I have already pointed out, prefer to withdraw their text rather than agree to significant revisions. This is totally unacceptable and shows great contempt for the time invested by the reviewer. Other authors express their lack of understanding, their discouragement and doubts. The support for scientific publishing within CeROArt requires multiple talents, including psychology to manage the irascible, support the demoralised, calm the anxious and encourage the shy. In some particularly complex cases, psychoanalysis would be a great help.

Daring to be generous

20Training courses should emphasise the fact that a young graduate restorer has not "arrived", that they are simply beginning a career in which they will constantly have to train and help to train. Teachers of practical and theory lessons should remember this fundamental truth, and set an example. They too must read, gather information, publish and communicate. Do they have the time or the opportunity? That's another question, and it is crucial.

21But as teacher, I think we must dare to be generous with shared knowledge.


22Our analysis - which is admittedly critical - can be tempered by the results. Without pride, but without false modesty either, we consider them to be broadly positive. The contents of CeROArt are widely referenced and the most distinguished publications are quick to quote its pages. AATA uses the abstracts, BCIN indexes its articles.

23In less than ten years, we have opened our pages to nearly 300 authors, 95 % of whom are conservators, and among those, more than 30 % are young first-time authors. The EGG publications have opened their pages to graduates from fourteen countries and 26 different training courses totalling more than 120 articles. All issues total over 250.000 visits annually, with 153.000 unique visitors. The largest number of readers comes from France, followed by the USA, then Germany, mainly French-speaking countries appear in the top ten.

24We have created a tool and, through training, we have to develop the desire to use it. CeROArt is not just a knowledge source or resource, but should primarily be considered as a place where knowledge is shared.

25The conservator does not yet sufficiently see himself as a "producer" in terms of scientific literature. The culture of secrecy is no doubt dead, but now we need to end the sort of aphasia, muteness and cowardice in terms of scientific writing. We must dare to be generous with shared knowledge.

26Conservators must dare to publish.

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1 Muriel Verbeeck, How to encourage conservators to produce knowledge. The CeROArt ‘lab’: Looking back at ten years of experience, Education and Training in Conservation, ICOM-CC Copenhagen, (on line,

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List of illustrations

Title Fig.1
Caption, qui s'est métamorphosé en OpenEdition, a accueilli CeROArt dès son deuxième numéro.
Credits Crédit:
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Electronic reference

Muriel Verbeeck-Boutin, Around CeROArt and the EGG issuesCeROArt [Online], EGG 6 | 2017, Online since 29 May 2018, connection on 06 December 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Muriel Verbeeck-Boutin

Historienne de formation, Docteur en Philosophie et Lettres et titulaire d'une licence spéciale en Sciences de l'information et de la communication, Muriel Verbeeck-Boutin est chercheur au sein de l'Unité de recherche AAP de l'Université de Liège. Elle enseigne à l'École Supérieure des Arts Saint-Luc de Liège, section Conservation, restauration des oeuvres d’Art. Research fellow de l'ICCROM (2017)et lauréate de la Getty Research Library Grant(2018).

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Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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