Reality-based Publication Models
I will right away take hold of your rss feed as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me realize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.
I am sorry, this variant does not approach me. Perhaps there are still variants?
And on this topic, Peter Suber’s recent thoughts on prestige are very accurate:
I think this is exactly on target: journals serve a branding function, and a needed one. They are filters for what people will read first, and the reputation of a journal is a proxy for the confidence people have in the scholarship it publishes (which is imperfectly captured by the so-called “impact factor”).
What we don’t have ways to talk about are the various levels of that confidence. There is much more going on that a simple good/bad or science/not science decision. Ask any anthropologist and they will have a vague and inarticulable sense of which journals are better and worse, and which serve what audiences… but ask anyone outside the field and it’s a crapshoot. They have to ask an anthropologist (or more often make assumptions about what journals publish quality stuff). So I think it’s a given that what people are looking for are insight, of a sort, and that part of this is the work of the editors more than the authors… but we don’t have a system for communicating that insight beyond the organic quasi-formal discussions taking place in hallways and conference-rooms.
I am reminded of a puzzle I used to put to students in a graduate level marketing class. Every year people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy each pay a large chunk of money to go to a conference where the keynote speaker is Esther Dyson. These are the CEOs of major corporations; they are not paying for information of which they have plenty and the resources to rapidly acquire more. What, then, are they paying for?
The answer to the puzzle is “insight,” with a pointer to a maxim for the networked world: “Information is cheap; insight is scarce.”
I could be wrong, but my sense of what most peer-reviewed academic journals are about is branding information. If it makes it into a journal, the information in question is deemed worthy to appear in the literature reviews of people doing research on similar topics. But what if, as the maxim noted above suggests, meeting standards for academic credibility is no longer enough? Demanding a “Wow!” factor for production of normal science/scholarship may be too much; but for readers looking for guidance on what has to be read, even if you’re not a specialist in the area under discussion, what else is there?