I have already described on this blog my experiments with self-publication and open peer review. I was reasonably satisfied with how the process worked, but I still hope for something better. In this post I'm going to try to set down my current thoughts about the evolution of academic publishing. This is very much a work in progress so please excuse me if it's not entirely coherent. I came back from Science Online London fired up and this is the next stage in me grokking the tools discussed there such as Figshare and ORCID.
I've had some bad personal experiences with academic publishers over the last couple of years, being messed around, wasting huge amounts of time and experiencing ridiculous delays. That was part of the reason I went down the open peer review road. I still believe that peer review is the gold standard for scholarship. I also believe that the current publishing model involving pre-publication gatekeepers who try to filter on the way in is broken. My open peer review experiments rightly received some criticism of possible bias. It remains a great sadness to me that education has not yet come up with our arXiv. eLife, Peer-J and even PLOS ONE do not provide a platform for my outputs (although PLOS ONE comes closest). So I remain very interested in peer-review platforms such as peerevaluation.org and peerage of science, but neither of these has attracted a critical mass yet, nor are they directed towards education research.
Why do I want to publish?
A wide variety of reasons, but my current preoccupations are:
- I want to achieve local impact with the projects I am working on. Traditional publication lends my work (spurious?) credibility which might help with that (although local Dark Social channels are currently more effective).
- Dissemination. I want my work to be discoverable by and useful to others.
- Institutional pressure. Still REF driven. If it ain't got an Impact Factor it don't exist.
A test case?
I have a small piece of research I have been working on for the last few weeks involving a case study of audio feedback with undergraduates. This is part of a larger ongoing project. This is not a candidate for PLOS ONE - wrong subject matter, too small a study. Is it a candidate for Figshare? At first sight Figshare is not directed towards education research (according to the categories on the site), although some of the manuscripts which have been submitted come pretty close. Is this work suitable for Figshare? It probably fits best in the Social Sciences category. There is a certain amount of work about education already on Figshare but there is currently no top level Education category (although I'm told there might be soon).
Publication on Figshare with the doi and citeability that brings might be an advantage over blogging alone. Figshare is indexed by Google Scholar so is excellent for discoverability and citeability. The weakness of the Figshare platform from my perspective is that it does not easily lend itself to post-publication peer review of submissions. In spite of that it seems the best option available to me at this time for rapid publication of scholarly work.