Days of Academic Journals Drawing to a Close, Perhaps

Tony Bates in his post ‘Do we need academic journals any more?’ when talking about the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology puts the argument for me perfectly:

…the length of the journal, and its traditional format all make me wonder if such journals are useful anymore. (This one is also incredibly boring, like most of the others). I get the feeling that the primary stakeholders in journals these days are not the readers but the authors, who need publication for tenure and promotion. Do they really expect anyone other than reviewers to read this stuff?

It is unfair to pick out just this one journal as virtually all others suffer from the same problems. And yes, Tony is right about the primary stakeholders being the authors seeking tenure and promotion. At least the CJLT is now open access.

Like me Tony agrees we still need peer reviewed articles but enriched using Web 2.0 and social media tools:

There is still a need for a ‘full’ article that’s been properly peer reviewed, especially if it is presenting original data or research, but why not have a ‘rolling’ publication of articles when ready, using abstracts with links to the full article, RSS feeds and Twitter notices, with opportunities for online comments and discussion of the articles?

The rolling publication schedule is crucial and brings us back to peer-reviewed blogs published openly with authors/research projects/promoting institutions bearing the cost of review. Then the public, which probably met the cost of supporting the research outcomes, benefit from access and can comment on the usefulness or otherwise of the articles for society as a whole.

Without tongue in cheek I don’t expect to see this situation in my lifetime.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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