2019 has been a pivotal year for academic publishing and has seen many aspects of scholarly communication critically reassessed. This post brings together some of the top posts on the theme of the ‘culture’ of academic publishing that have featured on the LSE Impact Blog in 2019.


Who are you writing for? The role of community membership on authors’ decisions to publish in open access mega-journals

 Open Access mega-journals have in some academic disciplines become a key channel for communicating research. In others, however, they remain unknown. Drawing on evidence from a series of focus groups, Jenny Fry and Simon Wakeling explore how authors’ perceptions of mega-journals differ across disciplines and are shaped by motivations associated with the multiple communities they function within.


Publishing and Perishing – Does a new generation of social scientists have to publish more to achieve less?

It is often anecdotally remarked that early career and PhD researchers have to publish their research more frequently and earlier in their careers than previous generations of academics, if they aim to secure a permanent academic job. In this post, Rob Warren lays out empirical evidence from the field of Sociology showing that this is indeed the case and highlights two market trends driving this process.


The value of a journal is the community it creates, not the papers it publishes

When we think about the value of journal publishing, we have a tendency to think in terms of costs per article and the potential for new technologies to reduce these costs. In this post, Lucy Montgomery and Cameron Neylon argue that we should instead focus on the social life of journals and the knowledge communities they sustain. Taking this as a starting point they explore how changes to the business model of journal publishing have pushed existing forms of academic social organisation to their limits.


The Unstoppable Rise of Sci-Hub: How does a new generation of researchers perceive Sci-Hub?

How do early career researchers (ECRs) use Sci-Hub and why? In this post David Nicholas assesses early career researcher attitudes towards the journal pirating site, finding a strong preference for Sci-Hub amongst French ECRs. He raises the question, will Sci-Hub prove the ultimate disruptor and bring down the existing status quo in scholarly communications?

 


Gender bias in peer review has been much discussed in the wider research community. However, there have been few attempts to analyse the issue within the social sciences. To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), this post by Alex Holmes and Sally Hardy highlights research undertaken by the Regional Studies Association to investigate the effect of gender on peer review outcomes. Taking a close look at the data, they reflect on how other factors may contribute to producing particular patterns in peer review decisions and suggest how undertaking this research has been critical to developing an equality agenda within the Regional Studies Association.


Peer review is not just quality control, it is part of the social infrastructure of research

The purpose of peer review is often portrayed as being a simple ‘objective’ test of the soundness or quality of a research paper. However, it also performs other functions primarily through linking and developing relationships between networks of researchers. In this post, Flaminio Squazzoni explores these interconnections and argues that to understand peer review as simply an exercise in quality control is to be blind to the historical, political and social dimensions of peer review.


Is who you know as important as what you know? Mapping the invisible colleges supporting academic prestige

A core principle of modern research culture according to the sociologist Robert Merton was ‘universalism’, the idea that the validity of ideas was independent of the status of the person making them. However, as a number of recent studies have shown in practice academia can also be exclusionary. In this post, Margath Walker shows how academic networks – invisible colleges – play an important role in the construction of academic prestige and argues that by understanding how these networks operate, we should adopt a more nuanced view of traditional metrics of academic success.


What’s in a name? How false author affiliations are damaging academic research

When reading a research paper, can you be certain that the institution the author claims to be affiliated with is actually the institution that was responsible for supporting the research? In this post Vivienne C. Bachelet presents findings from a recent study suggesting that a significant proportion of author affiliations are unverifiable. Highlighting how a lack of editorial guidance in this area has presented an opening for institutional malpractice, she argues that now is the time to more clearly regulate how authors attribute their research to different research organisations.


The Open Research Library: Centralisation without Openness

Resolving the question of how to provide an infrastructure for open access books and monographs has remained a persistent problem for researchers, librarians and funders. Knowledge Unlatched’s recent announcement of the open book platform – The Open Research Library – a project aimed at bringing together all available open book content onto one platform has been met with mixed responses. In this post Marcel Knöchelmann discusses the implications of Knowledge Unlatched business strategy and raises the question: Who really benefits from centralising access to open book content?


Self-organising peer review for preprints – A future paradigm for scholarly publishing

Preprints – rapidly published non peer reviewed research articles – are becoming an increasingly common fixture in scholarly communication. However, without being peer reviewed they serve a limited function, as they are often not recognised as high quality research publications. In this post Wang LingFeng discusses how the development of preprint servers as self-organising peer review platforms could be the future of scholarly publication.


Never on a Sunday! Is there a best day for submitting an article for publication?

With the advent of electronic publishing has come a wealth of ancillary data on issues related to the acceptance of articles for publication. Large data sets can now be quickly analysed to assess whether or not certain features, previously deemed unimportant, can actually affect the chances of a research paper being accepted for publication.  In this post, James Hartley looks at new research on weekly submission dates.

 

Note: This article gives the views of the authors, and not the position of the LSE Impact Blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our comments policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

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