The future of the academic journal

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Availability vs. Accessibility

Something more quietly impressive came out of it. The first "instant book" in the Press' history, it was issued as an initial run of 5, printed copies and as an e-book. To Dean Smith and Wendy Queen—respectively director and associate director of Project MUSE, the Press' platform for providing digital humanities and social science books and journals to university libraries—the accelerated production of Gun Violence offers a practical example of how academic presses might reinvigorate themselves as they trundle toward the future.

The Future Trends in Academic Publishing

In this case, the Press was participating in an extended journalistic enterprise, says Queen. She and Smith are in a unique position to comment on the current state of academic publishing. Project MUSE was created in as a collaboration between academic presses and research libraries, and it is one of the earliest online distribution platforms for academic content. Today, subscribing libraries have access to more than titles from more than worldwide academic publishers. By the end of , 91 presses will be participating with the service.

But those objects are artifacts of a different era. Smith and Queen helped shape MUSE to be format-neutral: The platform doesn't care whether content comes from a book or journal; it just directs users to the topics they're researching. And it's fun now because it used to be one road and now there's a complex highway system.

Fun isn't a word usually associated with academic publishing. Crisis is. Specifically, the crisis arising from the fact that library budgets can't keep pace with the ever-rising costs of journal subscriptions. It has been a topic of scholarly discussion for a couple of decades now; in the past two years, though, the discussion has moved more into the mainstream.

He called for fellow mathematicians to boycott Elsevier, the Amsterdam-based publishing arm of Reed Elsevier that produces more than 2, science, medical, and engineering journals. His reason: Not only do Elsevier's rising costs put a mammoth strain on libraries' budgets, but the company makes an absurd profit on them—a profit that in part relies on the unpaid labor of scholars and researchers in nonprofit universities.

University and research libraries are publishers' primary revenue streams, accounting for about 80 percent of sales. In , Elsevier reported a profit margin of Now, there's nothing wrong with being profitable—it's just that research universities and university presses are overwhelmingly nonprofits whose resources can't keep up with the rising costs. The most sobering reminder of this crisis came in April when the faculty advisory council of the Harvard Library issued a memo addressing the "untenable situation" of buying serials.

How to Write for Academic Journal?

The memo argues that "large journal publishers" have made the costs of providing researchers with the publications they need "fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive. Project MUSE's Smith and Queen work with both publishers and libraries, and so they understand the various parties' points of view. Publishers need revenue from journals to support their book and monograph publishing.

The rising cost of serials eats into libraries' new book acquisitions, and their operating budgets are year to year flat or constricting. In the middle are the researchers and scholars themselves, whose tenure pursuits are tied to their published output. They create and consume the products publishers distribute and libraries archive.

Academic publishers, research university libraries, professional scholarly associations, and academics themselves around the country and globe are trying to figure out ways to deal with this crisis. But that's not simply a matter of figuring out how to alleviate the financial stress of publishing. The problem involves an entire reconsideration of how academia talks to itself. Earlier this year, The Economist dubbed this movement the "Academic Spring," and scholars have voiced their concerns online. During the annual conference of the Association of American University Presses in June, tweets bearing the hashtag aaup13 discussed ideas, cheered presenters, debated publishing models, and sometimes just asked for common sense.

During a "Three Big Ideas in Publishing" plenary, one scholar made the simple plea: "As an author, I want to write good, important books that people read and that influence them.

Help me do that. Bogost, Ian ibogost. As an author, I want to write good, important books that people read and that influence them. That a major professional organization for language and literature scholars standardized a style for dealing with tweeted information is one of the many ways scholarly communication the umbrella term for how academia talks to itself is adjusting to the digital age. It's a change in the very understanding of what makes up the academic work that scholars want to communicate. Can a blog, Tumblr, or YouTube channel be a rigorous form of serious scholarship?

Can a tweet be used as argumentative evidence in a scholarly work? Does a Web page qualify as a dissertation? In , Fitzpatrick posted her scholarly manuscript for open peer review online; it was eventually published as the book Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy , which NYU Press issued in Her book is also available online. She is one of the more persuasive advocates for understanding digital scholarship, and she acknowledges that while tenure and academic career building are still tethered to being published, institutions are starting to rethink and redefine what form that scholarly work can take.

These changes aren't taking place overnight, but they are happening; it's a pretty exciting time. Ian Bogost, the above tweeter, is one of the researchers taking part in that process. He particularly wants to help academic presses, which have been very good to him over his career. The Author s further warrant that the contribution is original to them, except for any copyrighted material of others incorporated in it, and that the Author s will advise us of any material, either text or illustration, the rights for which are controlled by others.

Where necessary, the Author s will obtain, before publication and at their expense, permission in writing from the owner of the copyright in that material for publication by us. Copies of any such permission must be submitted to CJS for our files. The Author s further warrant that the article contains no defamatory or otherwise unlawful matter and that it makes no improper invasion of the privacy or personal rights of anyone. The Author s undertake that all statements in it purporting to be facts are true; and that they will advise us of any statements that might be construed as defamatory or otherwise unlawful.

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The Author s agree to pay all resulting costs and damages, except that this indemnity shall not apply to any changes in the manuscript by us that were not approved by the Author s in advance of publication, or to any material that the Authors had warned us in advance of publication might be construed as defamatory or otherwise unlawful. In order to protect both Author s and CJS from unauthorized use of the article, the Author s agree to refer to us any subsequent requests to publish it or a substantial portion thereof.

Therefore, if we want to dissuade from the use of journal-level metrics in the evaluation of scientists, we will need to develop mechanisms that make expert evaluations more discoverable, including easy-to-use article-level metrics that reflect relevant quality features of individual articles. Journals have become brands that promote their name and impact factor to the scientific community.

Journal branding stifles discoverable and article-level evaluations of scientific work in the following ways:. Getting into these journals can, for some scientists, even become more important than actually getting the science right. In summary, although the traditional journal-based publishing process has strengths, it too often restricts access through paywalls, wastes resources, delays dissemination of research findings, and shapes the evaluation and behavior of scientists in undesirable ways. To drive scientific publishing forward, we propose several long-term changes.

The Research Life Cycle

Although these changes could be implemented independently, together they promise to significantly increase transparency and efficiency. We could increase the quality of peer review and provide recognition for this activity [ 6 — 8 ] if we made it:. Publishing peer review reports and author responses for a manuscript, anonymously or with attribution, would reveal the rigor of the peer review process and open up to interested readers the scholarly exchange that accompanies the publication of an article.

Today, transparency is the exception. We believe it should become the norm. Peer review that is independent of journals focuses on feedback to the authors and evaluation of technical quality and originality of the submitted work. It reverses the trend in which peer review has morphed into a means of assisting editors in deciding whether a paper is suitable for their journal. It is important to identify papers of unusual significance and broad interest, and peer reviewers can contribute to that appraisal in a journal-agnostic fashion by properly describing the originality and scientific context of the work in question.

Consultations among peer reviewers—whether through virtual feedback on individually submitted peer reviews or a joint report after consultation among reviewers [ 9 ]—could effectively eliminate unreasonable reviewer demands. If peer review becomes a more constructive dialogue through these measures, reviewers may increasingly opt to sign their reviews.

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Signing of peer reviews ultimately aligns better with the notion that peer review deserves credit as a labor-intensive scholarly activity and important service to the scientific community. But we recognize that peer reviewers may not be as forthcoming with their critiques if signing reviews becomes compulsory, particularly when the author is an established scientist who may be able to affect the career of the reviewer.

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The technology exists to allow peer reviewers to remain anonymous while still receiving credit for their peer review efforts. The independence of scientists is at the heart of the research enterprise. Indeed, academic scientists lead the design and the execution of their own research plans after obtaining a principal investigator position and funding. This concept that scientists are in charge of the research process should be extended to the final step of the research workflow—the dissemination of the primary research results.

Today, journal editors decide when primary research is published. Shifting the publishing decision from editors to authors would fundamentally change the roles and motivations of authors, peer reviewers, and editors and open the door to publishing and evaluation practices that, we believe, are right for the digital age. Authors would benefit from deciding when to publish original and revised articles because they could avoid excessive rounds of peer review and revisions they consider unnecessary.

Reviewers would benefit because their peer review burden would decrease. But this shift begs the question of how authors can be motivated to only publish rigorous work and not prematurely rush to publication. The following are a few considerations.

The Future Of Academic Publishing Beyond Sci-Hub

We believe it makes sense that, in an open publishing environment, research is shared by authors and then scrutinized through discoverable peer review and filtering mechanisms after publication. This is arguably better than the situation today, in which authors can publish any work somewhere, though not necessarily in their journal of choice, usually without critical reviews that highlight potential shortcomings. How could scientists find work of interest in a sea of primary articles posted by authors and improved by peer reviewers?

This requires filtering or curation of primary research articles for specific audiences e. Experts would find valuable content in their own research field through powerful search engines. Because search algorithms will only get better in the future, we expect that many specialized journals that currently curate a large fraction of the literature will become obsolete.

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Time-consuming curation by experts would be more critical for research findings that claim to be highly significant and of broad interest, because many potential readers may not have the expertise or time to evaluate the work themselves. In the current publishing ecosystem, selective journals serve this important curation function by selecting papers for publication.

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Given that scientists continue to rely on these selections, we can presume these journals do as good a job as one can expect curating articles prior to publication. But the accuracy of these selections would improve after publication, when the scientific community has time to interact with the work and start the process of validation. Pre-publication curation is, in effect, a bet on the future influence of a selected article, whereas post-publication curation is closer to reporting wins or losses.

In particular, post-publication curation offers the following advantages. Author-driven dissemination in the life sciences already exists on publishing platforms.

The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal
The future of the academic journal The future of the academic journal

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