Publish perish and social media


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This is a revised version of my Chalk dust to star dust story. The point is simple: it is getting tough to publish in top journals, or any journal for that matter. Doing good work is necessary but not sufficient. But, using social media to enhance your academic footprint may help.

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Publish perish and social media

  1. 1. PUBLISHING OR PERISHING – CAN SOCIAL MEDIA SAVE YOU? By Waldo Krugell Presentation at the MsM 3rd Annual Research Conference Revolutions in Education: New opportunities for development? School of Economics, NWU, Potchefstroom campus
  2. 2. Publishing or perishing? • It is getting tough out there: • The median Harvard student has 0.04 AER equivalent publications after 6 years when they are up for tenure. • Only 1.5% of papers written about countries other than the U.S. are published in top-tier journals. • The methodology of published articles: • A smell test for good papers? And the way that publishing works. Year Theory Theory + simulation Empirical, borrowed data Empirical, own data Experiment 1963 50.7 1.5 39.1 8.7 0 2011 19.1 8.8 29.9 34.0 8.2
  3. 3. Publishing or perishing? • So when even the local society journal wants cleanly identified causal effects, you’ll have to work hard: • Throw in the mathematics, • Search for those large and novel data sets, • Learn the latest techniques, • Crunch the numbers, see if you can identify those causal relationships. • Write everything up really well. • But that may not be enough • You also need to overcome the disadvantages of distance, of a developing country context and a dearth of old friends at Harvard or the LSE. • You should be heard speaking about your good work at the right seminars and conferences. Don't go to nice places for conferences, go to where the journals' editors and reviewers are. • And maybe social media can come to our rescue.
  4. 4. Social media? • The internet has changed the way that research is being produced and consumed. • Researchers use university library sites, abstracting and indexing services, compilations of links, social networks and search engines. • Paul Krugman writes: ―… the tradional model of submit, get refereed, publish and then people will read your work, broke down a long time ago.‖ • But this about more than how you find inputs or disseminate outputs – the social web makes it about: Outreach Impact Academic footprint And that may contribute to get your work into the good journals. Blogs Twitter Other sharing
  5. 5. So what does it mean for research and publication efforts? The way we work • Matching and spillovers • Specialisation and diversity The way we publish • Tweets, blogs • Evidence Altmetrics • Substitutes or complements? • Signal to noise?
  6. 6. The way we work • Blogs, tweets and research networks can play a role in fostering academic agglomerations. Economic growth in agglomerations: Research in the social web era: Infrastructure – lowers the cost of production. You need basic hardware and friendly staff at the library. Diversity of intermediate inputs – there are benefits from scale and specialisation. The intermediate inputs are the interactions with and feedback from anyone and everyone. Diversity or specialisation can be beneficial. Matching in the labour market – better matching between employers and employees increases efficiency and lowers cost. Matching with senior Profs and colleagues Knowledge spillovers – ideas and innovations are in the air and drive growth in agglomerations. These are the spillovers that occur aside from the intermediate inputs and improved matching. This is about research culture and its spillovers.
  7. 7. There are many testimonials out there • On the virtues of blogging: "Previously if I wanted to convey an idea or a research finding, my choices were limited to a conference paper or journal article or, if I could work it up, a book. These choices still remain, but in addition I can create a video, podcast, blog post, slidecast, and more. It may be that a combination of these is ideal—a blog post gets immediate reaction and can then be worked into a conference presentation, shared through SlideShare, or turned into a paper that is submitted to a journal. In each case the blog or social network becomes a key route for sharing and disseminating the findings".
  8. 8. The way we publish • Krugman explains how it worked in the 80’s: • Connections got you to the right seminars and conferences. • Good work kept you there. • NBER Working Papers were the key output. • ‖… journal publication was so slow relative to the pace of ongoing work that it no longer acted as an information conduit". • "So now we have rapid-fire exchange via blogs and online working papers — and I think it’s all good. Work circulates even faster than it did then, there are quick exchanges that can advance understanding, and while it’s still hard to break in, connections aren’t as important as they once were and the system is much more open".
  9. 9. Publication: What does the evidence say? • Ozler & McKenzie have tried to answer 3 questions. • Do blogs improve dissemination of working papers or journal articles? • Looked at 50 blogs for references to papers in RePEc • They find large and significant impacts of blogging on abstract views and paper downloads. • Do blogs raise the profile of their creators? • US survey of favourite academic economists was linked to top 500 RePEc profiles. • Regular blogging is strongly associated with being more likely to be viewed as a favourite economist.
  10. 10. Publication: What does the evidence say?
  11. 11. Publication: What does the evidence say? • Do blogs cause changes in attitudes or lead to increased knowledge? • Ozler & McKenzie undertakes a RCT with the Development Impact blog. Reading DI: • Increased interest in working as a researcher at the World Bank. • Improved perceptions of the quality of research. • Increased the name recognition of bloggers. • In-depth knowledge of papers discussed was significantly higher among average readers. • They argue that blogs provide private benefits and externalities.
  12. 12. Altmetrics? • Altmetrics is about quantifying social web outreach and impact of research. • Going beyond, impact factors and citations. • See for example ImpactStory. • Do we want to include a blog in promotion and tenure decisions? • I think it depends on whether you view the social web aspect as a substitute or complement to your research. • My view is that tweets and blogs are becoming an indispensable part of peer-reviewed research. • It is about competition at top journals, networks and reputation.
  13. 13. Future research • I am keen to know more about people’s views: • Where do they find information, how do they find it? • Where and how do they disseminate research results? • Who see the benefits and would like to participate in the social web of research? Is there scope for some collective action? What are the barriers to entry? • Together with Prof Wim Naude of MsM we have an online questionnaire out. • The Econoblogosphere is very active in the U.S., but what about developing countries? • And Business Schools differ from Economics departments. • We want to learn more…
  14. 14. Thank you. And have a look at my blogs: Eat, sleep, blog, Economics Skool vir Ekonomie Follow @ekonoom on Twitter