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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let's Stop Publishing Research Papers


A brief and superficial note published by Tom Bartlett on the Chronicle of Higher Education about my last paper in Social Epistemology


September 15, 2010, 02:51 PM ET

Let's Stop Publishing Research Papers

You do the research, write the paper, submit the paper, wait for peer review, and then, if the paper's accepted, wait several months for the journal to publish. Once it's published what you've written is available to only a handful of journal subscribers and most of them won't read it anyway.

Is that really the best way to get an idea out there?

Gloria Origgi thinks not and so she's ... written a research paper to trash research papers. OK, that's not totally fair. What she's actually trashing is the slow, old-fashioned system of submitting papers to peer-reviewed journals. She's not the first person to make that complaint and she doesn't have a grand plan for how to fix it (though she does throw out a few possibilities, like allowing colleagues to see papers earlier in the writing process so their feedback can be incorporated). Here's the heart of her grievance:

It seems thus in my everyday professional life that academic papers are no more the most efficient way to communicate the state of advancement of my research to my community, nor to keep in contact with my colleagues. Striving to publish in an academic journal does not depend on the efficiency of the papers as tools for communication, but on social norms in use in the academic system that I passively accept because this is the way I have learned to do my job.

The title of her paper is "Epistemic Vigilance and Epistemic Responsibility in the Liquid World of Scientific Publications." I would add to her complaint that I think researchers should stop using needlessly opaque titles.

(The paper is published in Social Epistemology. The abstract is here. The full article—oh, the irony!—is not available online.)

17 comments:

Cesare Pautasso said...

Sounds like someone who could use some liquid journal...

http://project.liquidpub.org/

Reg said...

Let me first of all introduce myself. My name is Dr. Reginald James. I live and work here in a private tertiary teaching institution in Auckland, New Zealand. I came across your article titled," Let's Stop Publishing Research Papers". Unfortunately I do not have access to the full article. I read the abstract and agree with your views. Research conducted over months, and in some cases years are being published. Everyone trying to publish them in top journals around the world. The universities insist that their academicians publish papers in journals and conferences! Billions of dollars are spent on this. The university that publishes high quality papers in standard journals are adjourned as top university. The professor/researcher who is the so called author is acclaimed as an intellectual whose academic record becomes impeccable! I have sat in the class room of some of these great professors who has over 200 publications. It was such a boring experience! I could not hear the guy. There was some vague diagram he was trying to explain during that class. As a teacher of more than two decades, let me tell you, that guy should not be teaching and cannot call himself a teacher!

The points that I am trying to stress are:

• The universities have shifted their focus to research articles and publication than quality teaching.
• The academicians are rather forced to publish papers that people hardly understand.
• A common man with average intelligence is unable to understand the research articles.
• Articles that contain complicated diagrams/charts and mathematical equations and formulae are acclaimed and recognised to possess very high standard
• The article becomes old in one year
• Hardly a handful of people understand and recognise the research and go through the entire article. At the most they may read the abstract
• Universities that publish such papers become reputed institutions and attract huge funding.
• Quality time to prepare for classroom teaching is wasted
• No recognition is given to the lecturer/professor who may be an excellent teacher but could not publish
• Institutions that do not publish are looked down upon and are supposed to lack prescribed standards
• As you mentioned in your article, it goes through peer review and by the time it is accepted and published, it is more than a year from the date it was submitted
• An article that does not contain confusing titles and jargon is considered to be lacking quality
• More than half the article consists of references to already published material by other academicians
• The articles are expensive anyway. Only the abstract is available for most articles.
• A common man has no access to these articles as it is available only in University libraries. The students hardly have time to read such articles. They read it only if it is related their subject of interest or assignment
• The quality of teaching has relatively gone down in universities.
• It is time the universities and the academic world reduced the high emphasis on research and contributed more towards quality teaching as fee paying students deserve good teachers than researchers with a number of publication.

The universities around the world must pay more attention towards quality teaching as students deserve best teachers.


I hope I made some more contribution to what you have already written.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,
Reginald James

Dr. Reginald James
Senior Lecturer
Cornell Institute of Business & Technology
150, Hobson Street,
Auckland,
New Zealand
0064 21 108 5034

Gloria Origgi said...

You can find nice summary of the main points of my article on Daniel Miechten's blog: http://www.science3point0.com/evomri/2010/09/19/why-do-we-still-publish-research-via-papers/

Gloria Origgi said...

another interesting blog post about my article is the one of the Library of Duke University : http://library.duke.edu/blogs/scholcomm/2010/09/22/faculty-support-for-open-access-scholarship/

Gloria Origgi said...

another interesting blog post about my article is the one of the Library of Duke University : http://library.duke.edu/blogs/scholcomm/2010/09/22/faculty-support-for-open-access-scholarship/

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