Academic publishing is changing
from David Ruccio
Academic publishing is changing quickly and involves many different forms of production, from backroom cottage-industries to multinational capitalist corporations. And no one knows exactly where it’s all headed. Publishers themselves (at least in my experience) are as much at a loss as the rest of us.
One of the latest changes is online collaborative reviewing as an alternative to old-style peer reviewing. According to the New York Times,
some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.
But there’s still one obstacle: while the broader public—both academic and nonacademic—can participate in online reviewing, the publications themselves are still commodities, often available only to institutional subscribers (since individual subscriptions, to single article or whole journals, are very expensive).
The question for the public is, when will the publications themselves become part of the digital commons? And the question for academics is, will publications in the digital commons count for tenure?