"As a young scholar, with a family to support and without a secured position, my main selection criteria is in practice how the chosen journal would look in my CV."The above is a comment by Jan Kunnas in reaction to an article by Zoë Corbyn entitled A Threat to Scientific Communication that appeared in the British Times Higher Education Supplement. In fact, Kunnas' reaction is typical in most academic disciplines. One reason why junior faculty continue to focus on using traditional print publications for their scholarly communication can be summed up in Corbyn's quote of Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal:
"We have an industry in which most journals exist to perpetuate an inward-looking academic-reward system, and there is no clear purpose that has anything to do with science."
"The adoption of the journal system was achieved by subsidizing scientists who published their discoveries in journals. This same subsidy now inhibits the adoption of more effective technologies, because it continues to incentivize scientists to share their work in conventional journals and not in more modern media."
The report then concludes:"There are clear advantages to newer forms of publication that are recognized by a wider circle of scholars than those who have actually used them for publishing their own work. These include the ability to reach a larger audience, ease of access by readers, more rapid publication even when peer reviewed, the ability to search within and across texts, and the opportunity to make use of hyperlinks."
"There is presently a somewhat dichotomous situation in which electronic forms of print publications are used heavily, even nearly exclusively, by performers of research in many fields, but perceptions and realities of the reward system keep a strong adherence to conventional, high-stature print publications as the means of record for reporting research and having it evaluated institutionally."
"the operative concepts here are fear and snobbery, and the disincentives are so powerful as to discourage experimentation. Young scholars are counselled that they need solid print dossiers before they attempt digital scholarship and that, even then, they are still at some risk."
An article in the New York Times discusses the possibility that it may inhibit the world’s ability to respond to the sudden emergence of a widespread illness, including H1N1. The reason? Researchers are waiting to report their findings until it is published in traditional journals:
However, the Internet has afforded great opportunity for experimentation in alternative forms of scholarly communications, as Joseph Heller observes:
"Officials and experts say they have learned a lot about human swine influenza. But relatively little of that information, including periodic summaries of what has been learned since the beginning of the pandemic, has been reported and published. Some experts said researchers were waiting to publish in journals, which can take months or longer."
"The integration of digital technology into nearly every aspect of the daily workflow of scholars and researchers has begun to produce new channels of communication that do not fit neatly into the category of ‘journal’ or ‘pre-print’ or even ‘email communication’. These new mechanisms include blogs and wikis that spring up organically around a topic or an experiment and collaborative annotations on a web page. These advances are the natural result of scholars using digital technology in ways that they independently determine best serve their immediate needs and the needs of their community."When compared to other disciplines, academic librarianship has more liberty to be experimental with our scholarly communication. Advancing the nature of scholarship in academic librarianship is less dependent on adhering to traditional norms. Yet, the major hurtle remains faculty rewards systems that contend that only those communications that go through a pre-publication anonymous peer-review have any value.
Instead, academic libraries need to retool their faculty rewards systems so they more closely resemble the vision of Michael Jensen:
"For universities, the challenge will be ensuring that scholars who are making more and more of their material available online will be fairly judged in hiring and promotion decisions. It will mean being open to the widening context in which scholarship is published, and it will mean that faculty members will have to take the time to learn about — and give credit for — the new authority metrics, instead of relying on scholarly publishers to establish the importance of material for them.