A friend asked recently about how to evaluate a journal’s quality. It’s a great question, and not too dissimilar from asking how to evaluate a film’s quality, or an auto mechanic. Well, that last one is a little easier to judge: fix my car, quickly, cheaply, and when my daughter brings her car in don’t talk down to her…
We are in a world of several overlapping revolutions, but at wildly different paces. I would venture that 95% of what I see on “local” news is what I might have seen 35 years ago, but the technology of delivery (both to their newsroom and to my home) are radically different.
What I found interesting about the question is how the discussion of the world of academic publishing splits in two: on the one hand, people have many problems with the totality of the current process; on the other hand, they are willing to keep things just as they are…which is mostly how it has been for a very long time.
So what would get academics to think differently? This parallels what we know is a problem that disconnects science (and its methods) from public understanding. In my field–electronic media–we have had the discussions about professionalization of media industries and general informational skepticism dumped right in our laps.
And to be honest the efforts to make scholarly ideas more accessible have really moved quite far. I have said before that there is more good (true, valuable) information and analysis available to everyone then there ever has been in human history. But there is also a tsunami of bad information that is often better circulated.
I think that is a function of desire.
As scholars we want to be read, but we also want to be in good conversations, considering these issues carefully, and with inspired theoretical discussions in the process.
What as academics and scholars can we do to improve this situation? Is it time to rethink the material, technological, and commercial side of our thing?