Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Process of Tenure and Promotion a Monster That Eats Its Young?

The approach that Kathleen Fitzpatrick has taken with her new book manuscript might be one possible path that the future of scholarly communications will take.

Ms. Fitzpatrick has made the manuscript of Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy available online for open peer review. The 'book' is a part of Media Commons Press, who's tag line is "open scholarship in open formats."

While the plan is for the manuscript to go through the traditional blind peer-review process, and is forthcoming by NYU Press, Fitzpatrick plans to incorporate reader comments from the online manuscript into her revisions. She asserts:
"One of the points that this text argues hardest about is the need to reform peer review for the digital age, insisting that peer review will be a more productive, more helpful, more transparent, and more effective process if conducted in the open. And so here’s the text, practicing what it preaches, available online for open review."
Not only is the process being used to write the manuscript exciting, the manuscript is as well. A couple parts of the text which relate to the academic rewards system:
"our institutional misunderstanding of peer review as a necessary prior indicator of “quality,” rather than as one means among many of assessing quality, dooms us to misunderstand the ways that scholars establish and maintain their reputations within the field."
"we need to remind ourselves, as Cathy Davidson has pointed out, that the materials used in a tenure review are meant in some sense to be metonymic, standing in for the “promise” of all the future work that a scholar will do (“Research”). We currently reduce such “promise” to the existence of a certain quantity of texts; we need instead to shift our focus to active scholarly engagement"
"Until institutional assumptions about how scholarly work should be assessed are changed — but moreover, until we come to understand peer-review as part of an ongoing conversation among scholars rather than a convenient means of determining “value” without all that inconvenient reading and discussion — the processes of evaluation for tenure and promotion are doomed to become a monster that eats its young, trapped in an early twentieth century model of scholarly production that simply no longer works."
"I want to suggest that the time has come for us to consider whether, really, we might all be better served by separating the question of credentialing from the publishing process, by allowing everything through the gate, and by designing a post-publication peer review process that focuses on how a scholarly text should be received rather than whether it should be out there in the first place."
Sphere: Related Content

No comments: