Kijk, daar kan ik dan toch wel een beetje moedeloos van worden. Word je geattendeerd op een nieuw onderzoek naar de wensen en noden van wetenschappers op het gebied van wetenschappelijke communicatie (gebaseerd op uitvoerige interviews met 160 Amerikaanse wetenschappers uit zeven verschillende disciplines, netjes verdeeld over alfa, bèta en gamma), blijkt het onderzoeksrapport liefst 733 pagina’s te beslaan! Natuurlijk, er is een executive summary van 20 pagina’s maar daarin gaat toch weer veel van de detaillering en de nuance verloren. Ik denk dat ik daarom eerst maar eens één hoofdstuk over één discipline op m’n nachtkastje leg. En als ik daar heel enthousiast over word, dan volgen die andere hoofdstukken misschien vanzelf nog wel.

Maar natuurlijk kan ik het niet laten een paar citaten uit die executive summary te halen:

Our work has confirmed the important impact of each discipline’s nature, culture, and traditions on many scholarly communication habits in research universities; the peerreviewed journal article is the primary mode of scholarly dissemination in the sciences and the quantitative social sciences, while the more interpretive, historical, and qualitative disciplines rely heavily on the university press monograph with a varying mix of journal articles, critical editions, and other publications. These traditions, which rely heavily on various forms of peer review, may override the perceived “opportunities” afforded by new technologies, including those falling into the Web 2.0 category.

We found no evidence to suggest that “tech-savvy” young graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or assistant professors are bucking traditional publishing practices. In fact, as arguably the most vulnerable populations in the scholarly community, one would expect them to hew to the norms of their chosen discipline, and they do. Established scholars seem to exercise significantly more freedom in the choice of publication outlet than their untenured colleagues, although in the sciences, high-impact publications remain important for garnering research grants throughout a career.

Scholars must balance concerns about prestige and impact factor with considerations of audience and the technical affordances of particular media when choosing a publication outlet. The inherent diversity in publication practices makes precise terminology absolutely imperative. Such precision includes being clear about what is meant by “open access” publishing (…) Although there is a universal embrace of the rapidly expanding body of digital “primary” sources and data, there is an equally strong aversion to a “glut” of unvetted secondary publications and ephemera. The degree to which peer review, despite its perceived shortcomings, is considered to be an important filter of academic quality, cannot be overstated.

we caution against assumptions that “millennials” will change the social landscape of scholarship by virtue of their facility with cell phones and social networking sites. There is ample evidence that, once initiated into the profession, newer scholars—be they graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, or assistant professors—adopt the behaviors, norms, and recommendations of their mentors in order to advance their careers.

In sum, our research suggests that enthusiasm for the development and adoption of technology should not be conflated with the hard reality of tenure and promotion requirements (including the needs and goals of final archival publication) in highly competitive and complex professional environments. Experiments in new genres of scholarship and dissemination are occurring in every field, but they are taking place within the context of relatively conservative value and reward systems that have the practice of peer review at their core. Perhaps, as a consequence, we found that young scholars can be particularly conservative in their research dissemination behavior, and that established scholars can afford to be the most innovative with regard to dissemination practices.

Although robust infrastructures are needed locally and beyond, the sheer diversity of scholars’ needs across the disciplines and the rapid evolution of the technologies themselves means that one-size-fits-all solutions will almost always fall short. As faculty continue to innovate and pursue new avenues in their research, both the technical and human infrastructure will have to evolve with the ever-shifting needs of scholars. This infrastructure will, by necessity, be built within the context of disciplinary conventions, reward systems, and the practice of peer review, all of which undergird the growth and evolution of superlative academic endeavors.

Oh ja, de titel van het rapport luidt: Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines.

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