NM&S Theme Issue: Scholarly Communication
Scholarly Communication: Changes, Challenges & Initiatives
Theme Issue: New Media & Society
Co-‐editors: Nicholas Jankowski & Steve Jones
For many years, a broad range of stakeholders – publishers, editors, authors, librarians, university administrators, funding agencies – have been concerned with the ‘crisis in scholarly communication’ and, relatively recently, have been exploring ways to incorporate the potentials of the Web into the process of scholarly communication and publishing. Although concerns vary, five thematic clusters are prominent:
- Integrating formal (e.g., journal article) and informal (e.g., social media) modes of scholarly communication;
- Incorporating Web features into scholarly publishing (e.g., hypertext, multimedia, color, dynamic visualizations, accessibility to data, and author-reader interaction);
- Exploring new models for financing scholarly publishing in an environment with declining resources;
- Increasing access to scholarship and data, and developing digital repositories;
- Considering alternatives to conventional assessment procedures of scholarship (e.g., alternatives to double-blind peer review and standard metrics for determining publication impact).
These concerns are complex and there is limited agreement as to how they should be addressed. Disciplines across the sciences and humanities are facing different challenges within their respective cultures and resources; consequently, a wide range of reactions is appearing, some of which appear reactionary while others seem innovative. Peer review, for example, continues to be the ‘gold standard’ for determination of quality for publication in many disciplines, but whether the process should be blind and confidential is increasingly questioned; experiments with alternative, open review procedures challenge this standard. Further, the added communicative features of Web publishing come at an economic price and it is uncertain which of the parties involved in scholarly publishing are able to finance such features. Finally, open access is an attractive principle to many, but it is unclear how its implementation can be achieved in an academic climate expecting and rewarding publication in high status periodicals.
The above concerns suggest the panorama of topics to be addressed by contributions to a theme issue of New Media & Society (NM&S). The issue stems from a panel prepared for the symposium A Decade in Internet Time and includes contributions from scholars involved in that and related events. Contributors are associated with initiatives in Web-based publishing and are engaged in the study of changes in scholarly publishing and communication. Some have been involved in on-going discussions about scholarly publishing in other venues, such as the Journal of Electronic Publishing theme issue on ‘Reimaging the University Press’ and a roundtable at an Association of Internet Researchers conference, Digital Scholarship. Other contributors have been concerned with long-term exploration of changes in scholarly publishing and communication, such as those undertaken at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. Yet other contributors are affiliated with a pan-European investigation (ACUMEN) of assessment procedures across domains of scholarship, including procedures for peer review of research and publications. This theme issue of NM&S provides opportunity to continue discussion and exploration of new directions for scholarly publishing and communication.
The co-editors of NM&S are preparing this issue with the authors of the abstracts listed below. Manuscripts will be both blind reviewed and, in some cases, made available for open comment on a special platform designed for that purpose, adapting procedures followed by other scholarly journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly. Readers are invited to consult and comment on the manuscripts, available here. Further, once the issue is published contributors will be invited to engage in exchange and debate with readers in the online venue Communicationspace that is maintained by SAGE Publications.
Credit, time, and personality: Incorporating disciplinary needs and values into predictions about the future of scholarly communication
Many funding bodies, the complex economics of publishing, and the affordances of Web 2.0 platforms have encouraged scholarly societies, publishers, and scholars to experiment with new media venues for scholarly communication. Why, then, has more wide-spread adoption of new models in fact been hindered so significantly by established scholarly values and conventions in almost all disciplines? In addressing this question here, we have two objectives: (1) to explore disciplinary variance in new and traditional forms of scholarly communication in the academy, and (2) to identify the factors that might predict change or stasis in scholarly communication forms and functions. First, by drawing on qualitative interview, and observational data, and literature reviews collected during the Mellon-funded Future of Scholarly Communication Project (2005-2011), we will discuss the scholarly communication life cycle and examine where in this lifecycle new media venues for dissemination of research (both formal and informal) are ubiquitous or shunned (and by whom and why). A crucial part of this exploration is the importance of distinguishing between forms of in-progress communication (Harley, et al., 2007, 2010) and archival communication. Second, we will describe the significant tensions and obstacles to change experienced by individual scholars across scholarly fields. In particular, this article will examine the importance of practical issues such as receiving due credit, time budgets, and access to resources, as well as deeply personal issues such as privacy, trust, ego, competition, and career self-interest, that scholars negotiate when faced with new media ecologies in their choices for disseminating research results. By situating larger discussions about the future of scholarly communication in the everyday life of scholars, this article will argue that building continuity between conventional and new scholarly communication practices is key to the success of new initiatives.
Harley, Diane, Sarah Earl-Novell, Jennifer Arter, Shannon Lawrence, and C. Judson King. 2007. The Influence of Academic Values on Scholarly Publication and Communication Practices. Journal of Electronic Publishing 10 (2). Available at: http://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/publications.php?id=260.
Harley, Diane, Sophia Krzys Acord, Sarah Earl-Novell, Shannon Lawrence, and C. Judson King. 2010. Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines. Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley. Available at: http://escholarship.org/uc/cshe_fsc.
Harley, Diane, and Acord, Sophia Krzys. 2011. Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley. Available at: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1xv148c8#.
P2P scholarship and the future of scholarly publication
Over the last two decades we have seen a pattern of reintermediation across a number of media industries, as peer-to-peer systems have increased individuals’ ability to distribute, while creating large systems of discovery and exchange. In one view, scholarly exchange has been peer-to-peer for centuries, and when compared with the music industry or news distribution, the incursions of the industrial revolution on scholarly communication are relatively modest. Nonetheless, commercial and noncommercial publishing, and the culture of academia that enable them, have been slow to respond to new forms of scholarly exchange.
The original scholarly journals were used as a way of enabling communication that would otherwise be impossible. The ideal of the conversation in person was poorly replaced by the conversation that happened first through letters and then through printed journals. Naturally these provided some advantages as well: providing a degree of transparency and permanence to the the discussion. Today, we have other means to allow for rapid discussion of work in progress and research results, distributed globally at almost no cost. The needs of today’s scholar, particularly in terms of locating the appropriate information and expertise, have changed significantly, even as our mode of communication remains mired in the past.
The current organs of scholarly communication, most especially scholarly journal and book publishing, have been too slow to adapt to the new environment, and only those that are able to provide open, standards-based, easily accessible infrastructure will succeed as scholars begin to bypass the existing structures of publishing. The “press” is no longer a relevant model for communicating with a global community of scholars, but there remains an acute need for platforms and infrastructure that can support discoverability and collaboration.
Those who support such communication, including libraries and academic publishers, will succeed only in so far as they are able to recognize the core communication needs of scholars and address them, and this means putting aside assumptions about how scholarly communication happens. No one has a clear blueprint for what sort of infrastructure will best support scholars in ten or twenty years, but by looking more closely at scholars’ use of published literature and the needs that are left unmet, we at least can indicate a more appropriate direction.
University Publishing and the Digital Environment
The system of scholarly publishing that we have been familiar with took shape only about some 50 years ago, in the 1960’s. At that time, U.S. university presses began universalizing the practice of anonymous peer reviewing of both journal articles and monographs (the exclusive, binary, publishing formats); all institutions of higher learning began requiring published books or a quantity of articles as an integral part of faculty promotion and tenure processes; lavish government funding underwrote, directly and indirectly, much university-based research and resulting publication; and well-funded libraries were able to support expanded publishing activities. Now, after half a century of productive publishing, that print-based publishing order is in its final throes of dissolution, having suffered the combined blows of withdrawal of external funding and significant loss of revenue overall; drastically declining demand from libraries and scholarly customers; and, most importantly, the digital revolution which challenges every aspect and assumption of the legacy publishing process. This paper will barely sketch the scope and the transformed and transforming ingredients of the system of scholarly publishing as it is being radically reconstituted for and by the digital environment, from a stable, bounded, well-ordered and well-policed publishing model into one that is inherently unstable and shape-shifting in all its elements, potentially anarchic and boundless, and unimaginably rich in future publishing opportunities.
Pochoda, P. 2010. UP 2.0: Some Theses on the Future of Academic Publishing. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 13(1). Available at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0013.102?rgn=main;view=fulltext;q1=Pochoda
Pochoda, P. 2010. Editor’s Note, Reimagining the University Press (Special Issue). Journal of Electronic Publishing 13(2). Available at: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0013.201?rgn=main;view=fulltext;q1=Pochoda
Pochoda, P. & Esposito, J. 2011 Publishing Through the Wormhole: A New Format for the Born-digital Publisher. Scholarly Kitchen. April 26. Available at: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/?s=Pochoda
Academic publishers as innovation intermediaries in the development of Web 2.0 services for scholarly communication
We present findings from two case studies of how scholarly communications service providers are responding to the opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 to innovate their service offerings. The findings highlight the need to take seriously the role of academic publishers in the move towards more open scholarly communications, and to understand the factors that shape their role as intermediaries in the innovation paths needed to get there.
In the last 10 years a rapidly expanding series of innovations in the technical tools, standards and practices collectively known as Web 2.0 would appear to offer the possibility of new forms of scholarly communications central to the realization of the e-Science vision of reduced time to discovery and greater robustness of the research process (Arms and Larsen 2007; Hannay, 2009; Hey, Tansley & Tolle 2009). Proponents of ‘Open Science’ or ‘Open Scholarship’ have seized upon the technical possibilities offered by Web 2.0 for fundamentally changing scientific practice and scholarly communications (Neylon & Wu, 2009; Waldrop, 2008).
Many of these possibilities concern the ability of individual researchers, research groups and institutions to publish, annotate, review and reuse research outputs and work in progress. This would seem to challenge the role of established academic publishers, already heavily criticized for obstructing the move to Open Access. However, despite suggestions that academic publishers are somehow becoming irrelevant in the age of Web 2.0, recent work suggests that publishers have emerged as key innovation intermediaries (Howells, 2006; Stewart & Hyysalo, 2008), providing the research community with opportunities to use and learn about Web 2.0. A recent survey of UK academics suggests that most have little time or motivation to adopt and provide input to novel Web 2.0 services, despite recognizing the potential, and enthusiastically embracing service such as Google Scholar (Procter et al., 2010), Apart from some major IT players from outside publishing, none of the other types of players in the world of scholarly communication: scholarly societies, libraries, universities and, funding bodies, etc. stand out as being more motivated or better able to drive significant experimental innovation either. Academic publishers have incentives and can develop the expertise to develop and deploy a range of new tools and services and bring then to the scholarly community. Rather than one-off services, academic publishers are able to experiment over the longer term, integrating innovations with conventional services. However, success is rather limited, and despite their positions as obligatory points of passage with privileged platforms to promote change, it may be hard for an individual publisher to drive structural change in scholarly communication practices in a competitive environment where researchers expect common standards and services to link all their sources of knowledge, whatever the source.
In research sponsored by the Research Information Network we studied the adoption of Web 2.0 and its implications for scholarly communications. In a previous paper (Procter et al., 2010), we reported on findings of researchers’ use of Web 2.0. In this paper, as a complement, we present findings from two case studies of how scholarly communications service providers are responding to the opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 to innovate their service offerings. This paper is not intended to provide a representative overview of the activities of all academic publishers but a more in-depth investigation of the experiences of two prominent publishers as they attempt to appropriate and innovate about Web 2.0 ideas and services. Nevertheless, we argue that their experiences are similar to those faced by many publishers. Our findings highlight the need to take seriously the role of academic publishers in the move towards an e-Science vision of scholarly communication, and to understand the factors that shape their role as intermediaries in the innovation paths needed to get there.
Arms, W.Y. and Larsen, R.L. 2007. The Future of Scholarly Communication: Building the Infrastructure for Cyberscholarship, Report of a workshop held in Phoenix, Arizona April 17-19. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Joint Information Systems Committee. Available at: http://www.sis.pitt.edu/~repwkshop/NSF-JISC-report.pdf
Hannay, T. 2009. From Web 2.0 to the Global Database. In Hey, T. Tansley, S. and Tolle, K. (Eds.) The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Research. Microsoft Research, Washington, USA.
Hey, T. Tansley, S. & Tolle, K. (Eds.) 2009. The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Research. Microsoft Research, Washington, USA.
Howells, J. 2006. Intermediation and the role of intermediaries in innovation. Research Policy, 35: 715-728.
Neylon, C. and Wu, S. 2009. Open Science: tools, approaches, and implications. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing.
Procter, R., Williams, R., Stewart, J., Poschen, M., Snee, H., Voss, A. and Asgari-Targhi, M. 2010. Adoption and Use of Web 2.0 in Scholarly Communications. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, special issue on e-Science.
Stewart, J. and Hyysalo, S. 2008. Intermediaries, Users and Social Learning in Technological Innovation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 12(3), 295-325.
Waldrop, M. 2008 Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk? Scientific American. See http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=science-2-point-0-great-new-tool-or-great-risk
Openness and the Formalization of Informal Scholarly Communication
In spite of broad support across disciplines, only a small minority of scientific and scholarly publications are available through open access. As adoption of open access languishes, increased openness among informal modes of scholarly communication is challenging normative conceptions of open science . Presently, numerous initiatives explore open practices, demonstrating new possibilities related to increased transparency and improved content interoperability. Such projects include, for example, the use of draft manuscript repositories, linked-data repositories, open lab notebooks, academic blogs, and formalized content ontologies. Although novel forms of scholarly communication on the Web are increasing, researchers are much less likely to depart from publishing in traditional journals, particularly when academic rewards are at stake .
While there remains widespread adherence to traditional publishing models that fail to attain a normative degree of openness, the very notion of open science is evolving in less formal, technologically enabled, communication environments. This juxtaposition raises some interesting questions about the role of informal scholarly communication as a vehicle for the proliferation of openness. To address this, I examine development of digital scholarship platforms funded by an initiative promoting ‘enhanced publications’ . Intended to accelerate transition of traditional publications to the Web medium, enhanced publications present already published texts in a Web environment with interlinking of content objects such as: data on which the publication is based, contextual scaffolding, post-publication reactions, and secondary analyses. The empirical purview of this study includes institutions, technologies, and communities of practice, in addition to the development team, as factors characterizing manifestations of openness.
Ethnographic techniques and participant observation are used in a case study methodology. In this arrangement physical presence is augmented by the Web medium itself, such that participant contributions are rendered visible through interlinking of digital objects and in the documentary traces of interaction . Openness, the object of study, is analytically framed in a context of social and technological interactions at both the interface and infrastructure scholarly communication.
By framing openness as contingent upon interface and infrastructure, I foreground the dual role of technology in facilitating both agency and structure . Analysis of the this initiative and the projects produced by it, reveal new articulations of openness in scholarly communication that (a) leverage increased transparency and content interoperability (b) are inscribed in new communication practices and formats, and (c) are contributing to formalization of informal scholarly communication.
 Merton, Robert K., and Norman W. Storer. The sociology of science. University of Chicago Press, 1979.
 Procter, Rob, Robin Williams, James Stewart, Meik Poschen, Helene Snee, Alex Voss, and Marzieh Asgari-Targhi. 2010. “Adoption and use of Web 2.0 in scholarly communications.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368(1926): 4039 -4056.
 SURF Foundation. “Enhanced publications”, n.d. http://www.surffoundation.nl/en/themas/ openonderzoek/verrijktepublicaties/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed: 09 September 2011.
 Geiger, R. Stuart, and David Ribes. 2011. “Trace Ethnography: Following Coordination through Documentary Practices.” In Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Los Alamitos, CA, USA: IEEE Computer Society, p. 1-10.
 Wouters, Paul, Katie Vann, Andrea Scharnhorst, Matt Ratto, Iina Hellsten, Jenny Fry, and Anne Beaulieu. 2008. “Messy shapes of knowledge – STS explores informatization, new media, and academic work. The Virtual Knowledge Studio.” In Handbook of science and technology studies, ed. Edward Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael Lynch, and Judy Wajcman, 319-351. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
The Role of Citation-based Research Assessment in the Crisis of Scholarly Publishing
Researchers and scholars have been the object of increasingly systematic performance assessments (Wouters 1999). In these evaluations, citation based indicators have been used in more and more fields, including parts of the social sciences and humanities (Moed 2005). The most reliable forms of citation analysis are based on the Web of Science, which in its turn is based on formal scientific journals, predominantly in the English language. In other words, these forms of citation analysis are based on traditional scholarly publications.
This has created the impression, among many researchers, that these citation based evaluations may hinder the innovation of the scientific and scholarly communication process. After all, if researchers are mainly assessed on their performance in traditional scientific journals, they can be expected to focus on publication in these media. They will tend to shy away from putting valuable research time in new forms of scientific publishing for which they will not be awarded.
This article will analyze whether this assumption is true. I will test the hypothesis that there is an inverse relationship between the dominance of citation based performance measures and innovation in the relevant scholarly publication system. As an index of innovation of the publication system, I will use (among others) the ratio of the number of new media channels over the number of scholarly journals in the field. As a measure of the dominance of citation based performance measures, I will use (among others) the share of scientometric studies of these fields in the total of scientometric studies. A combined quantitative and qualitative analysis of the results in more detail will be used to understand the relationships at the level of individual fields and local research systems. This may give clues with respect to future directions of research assessment systems that support innovation of the scholarly communication system, for example by including webometric measures (Thelwall 2002a, 2005).
Moed, H. F. 2005. Citation analysis in research evaluation. Vol. 9. Dordrecht: Springer.
Thelwall, M. 2002a. “The top 100 linked pages on UK university Web sites: high inlink counts are not usually directly associated with quality scholarly content.” Journal of Information Science 28(6): 485-493.
Thelwall, M. 2005. Link Analysis: An Information Science Approach. San Diego: Academic Press.
Wouters, P. 1999. The Citation Culture. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.
The Intellectual and Institutional Properties of Scholarly Communication: Historical Reflections on Patronage, Autonomy, and Exchange.
Johanne Provençal, Simon Fraser University
This paper situates the contemporary tensions that have arisen in scholarly communication – such as those related to questions of authorship and copyright, open access versus proprietary access to scholarship, sustainable business models and institutional support, for example — in the historical context of the intellectual and institutional properties that have long been associated with learning. The paper takes as one historical instance in this history the properties of learning established in the monasteries of the Middle Ages. The paper provides a discussion of how the work of monasteries was established and sustained by virtue of gifts that supported the work of the monastery, which included a significant contribution to manuscript cultivation and collections. The paper describes how the particular gift economy of monasticism was based on expectations of a counter-gift (renumeratio). The donors assumed a responsibility for protecting the abbey from the demands of the world both financially and militarily in exchange for the abbot promising the benefactors of the better life that would come to them, in light of their support. These acts of beneficence proved an effective, if initially inadvertent, means of underwriting the labor of learning and the production of intellectual property valued by the monastic community. While the benefactors’ patronage of the monasteries represented a spiritual investment in their life to come, it also provided patronage for learning. Further, the monasteries of the Middle Ages introduced a stable and sustainable model of institutional endowment for learning, in that, rather than patronage to an individual. Through the accumulation of such bequeathals, monasteries afforded those with an interest in learning a secure position in an institution in which to pursue their studies, with little interference from the monastery’s benefactors. Of all the goods that the monastery held in common, the fruits of learning were among the most widely distributed of its assets, both among the sister monasteries, as well as the larger world of the Latin West. The gift of learning, which was made possible by patronage, also came to carry with it certain responsibilities for sharing knowledge with others as part of monasticism’s communal spirit of humility. This patronage of learning was to be one of its key intellectual properties in the centuries leading up to Age of Commerce, the era of print and copyright, and the epoch of capitalism that were to follow. The aim of the paper is to shed light on the importance of the institutional conditions that shaped the intellectual properties of learning in the centuries leading up to the gradual formation of the modern university system in the West. The intellectual and institutional properties of the work undertaken in the monasteries reflect the autonomy and communality of learning, which provide helpful points of historical reflection on the principles that are integral to issues of contemporary scholarship and scholarly communication today and might, as such, serve to advance the circulation and quality of knowledge.