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Knowledge or Credit? The (Un)changing Face of Academic Publishing from the Philosophical Transactions to Blogging


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Held on 12 March 2012 at the event "Social Science and Digital Research: Interdisciplinary Insights", convened by the Oxford Internet Institute's Oxford eSocial Science Project (OeSS). Program:

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Knowledge or Credit? The (Un)changing Face of Academic Publishing from the Philosophical Transactions to Blogging

  1. 1. Knowledge or Credit?The (Un)Changing Face of Academic Publishing from the Philosophical Transactions to Blogging Cornelius Puschmann School of Library and Information Science Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinSocial Science and Digital Research: Interdisciplinary Insights March 12th 2012, Oxford Internet Institute
  2. 2. This Talk1. Context of this talk 2. A glimpse at the past and present of formal scholarly communication 3. The scholarly blog: Jack of all trades, master of none? 4. (Policy) implications
  3. 3. ContextIn the broader context of the Internet‘s impact on scholarship, a numberof initiatives have adressed scholarly blogs and their potential role foracademic communication: • Oxford e-Social Science Project (OeSS, 2005-2012) • MeRC project “Use and Relevance of Web 2.0 Resources for Researchers“ (2008-2009) • Research Consortium “Interactive Science“ (2009-2012, Gießen) • Junior Researchers Group “Science and the Internet“ (2010-2012, Düsseldorf) • my postdoc project (DFG grant): “Networking, visibility, information: a study of digital genres of scholarly communication and the motives of their users“ (2012-2015, Berlin)
  4. 4. The Past• Philosophical Transactions established in1665 by Henry Oldenburg• consisted of a range of subject areasand genres of text• enabled wide(r) dissemination ofknowledge based on discovery than hadpreviously existed• allowed inventors to claim the right toan invention• dual function: • spread knowledge • enable attribution
  5. 5. dual aims of scholarly communication l ind ta ivi cie du so alspreading knowledge building a reputation
  6. 6. The Presentmassive increase in speed and volume of output:• ~50 mio. scholarly publications in existencea heavily concentrated market:• Reed Elsevier, Springer Science+Business Media and John Wiley & Sonsaccount for large portion of articles published globallyextreme imbalances:• key inputs (research articles and peer review) are provided free of charge• output it sold to intermediaries (libraries), not to end-consumers• profit margins of up to 40%changing environments:• digital publishing• open access
  7. 7. What happened in between?• institutionalization and professionalization of academia• corporate intermediaries have taken over publishing• career success based on publications (“publish or perish“)• computers and the Internet (duh)• diversification of scholarly genres: • formal (monographs, peer-reviewed articles) • informal (gray literature, interpersonal communication)How do scholarly blogs fit in here?
  8. 8. resea og rch blo bl g en ces ci scholarly blog carn de r et eche rech different terms & concepts eWiss ensc haft sblo g blog ic digita ad em l lab n otebo ac ok
  9. 9. Some flavors of scholarly blogs Communicator Target audience Communicative goals PhD student in English peers*, self write, remember literaturepostdoctoral researcher in keep in touch, peers* information science network, science enthusiast* experts, lay audience express opinions, educate free-lance journalist lay audience, advertisers gain visibility
  10. 10. Type 1:The Logbook
  11. 11. Type 1:The Logbook
  12. 12. Type 2:The Notepad
  13. 13. Type 2:The Notepad
  14. 14. Type 3:The Printing Press
  15. 15. Type 3:The Printing Press
  16. 16. Observations• scholarly blogs represent a return to a more diverse and lessutalitarian genre ecology of academic communication• they cover a range of functions, including notekeeping, academicpublishing and science education• their flexibility also makes them hard to evaluate from the perspectiveof established publishing• it appears unlikely that they will supplant formal genres of scholarlycommunication in the near future, but like the first academic journals,they are a response to widely-felt needs• should funders incentivize scholarly blogging -- and if yes, what kind?
  17. 17. Thank you for your attention!