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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Scholarship, Open Journals and Peer Review

Time for a couple of posts on the academy. I've been reading a lot lately about online journals and the whole issue of publishing in general. For some good examples see:

I guess these four in particular caught my attention because they all deal with the concept of open access or open source and how problematic that can become in the academy.

For the record, while I know very little - beyond a pedestrian knowledge - about the open source movement, on face value I believe it in. Here are UGA we have thousands, maybe tens of thousands of journals that are available online, full-text, through our password protected library system and I'm always saddened by the fact that it isn't too much longer that I will have access to this and the institution that I end up at next may not have this kind of resource.

While I know that the number of open journals available on the Internet, or e-journals, are growing, I get the sense that they are still not seen as being as "quality" as the traditional print journals. There is also the legitimate issue of scope. Take the online journal the Morning Watch: Educational and Social Analysis as an example. Here it is a journal that used to be print based but because of cutback at Memorial University of Newfoundland it was moved online. It is a regional journal for all intents and purposes, printing articles that are largely focused upon the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, largely being written by Newfoundland-based individuals or Newfoundlanders abroad.

The problem come when you consider the fact that now, as an online journal, it has a much greater and wider geographic audience. One of the things that this allows is for what you see in their current issue (vol. 33, no 1-2), where you have a special issue that has authors from a variety of locations in Canada, writing about a variety of places in Canada. Does this now make the Morning Watch a journal with a national scope and audience.

Compare this single issue with another Canadian e-journal, the International Electronic Journal for Leadership and Learning. This journal has always been online (to the best of my knowledge). It has an international editorial team and even uses the term international in its name. However, with the exception of the past couple of year, the vast majority of the articles that they published were written by or focused on research conducted in Canada. This would have made them a national journal with some international representative based upon their content.

In the same way that the regional Morning Watch is shifting its focus to a somewhat more national perspective, the International Electronic Journal for Leadership and Learning has been shofting to a more international focus. So how do we tell?

For the record, I believe that the Morning Watch is still a regional journal and the International Electronic Journal for Leadership and Learning is an international journal. But as someone who has published in both of these outlets more than once, I am more interested in how others see them?

The reason I ask this is because I'm not going to be the one who is judging my third year review portfolio or my tenure portfolio when the time comes. What I believe is not necessarily the same as what is generally accepted in the academy. And while I support the movement of open source and try to publish, where possible and strategic in open source publications (such as these two online journals), I wonder in the end if that will help or hurt my advancement in the academy.

Once, at an AACE e-Learn conference, Stephen Downes told me that he refused to submit manuscripts to journals that were not open source anymore. While Stephen Downes works for the National Research Council as a senior researcher, I wonder if he could have made the same decision as an assistant professor within the academy.

Tags: open source, online journals, e-journals, academy, tenure, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education


Blogger Peter Suber said...

Michael: You shouldn't have to make any career sacrifices to provide OA to your own work. A growing number of peer-reviewed OA journals have high impact factors and high prestige. But if there aren't any like that in your field (check the Directory of Open Access Journals), then you can publish in a high-impact, high-prestige conventional journal and then deposit a digital copy of your postprint in an open-access repository. About 70% of non-OA journals give blanket permission for authors to do this. In short, there's rarely a trade-off between conventional publication and OA. Moreover, OA can boost your career: studies show that OA articles are cited 50-250% more often than non-OA articles from the same journal and year. I elaborate some of these points in Six things that researchers need to know about open access.

For more background on OA, see my Open Access Overview, and to stay up to date, see my Open Access News blog.


10:18 AM

Blogger MKB said...


I was not aware of an open-access repository. I know that within distance education, the two Canadian journals (JDE and IRRODL) are both open access and have high impact and high prestige ratings - actually I recall a post (which think I had written about at some point bu couldn't find it) that indicated that these two journals had the highest impact factors of distance education journals (a Terry Anderson post I believe).

Having said that, I think everyone of us knows someone who would sit on P&T committees and who would look done upon anything that wasn't a traditional print journal. The problem comes in when that person is there and we don't know about them until you get that negative vote.

But thanks for the information on these open-access repositories, I'll have to look into them.


11:12 AM


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