Browsing the archives for the Future of Academic Publishing tag

When is a Hashtag a Journal Article? by Charlotte Frost
Posted by Charlotte Frost

hashtag in a squareRight that’s it, I’ve done it, I’ve gone and put my money where my mouth is. Or rather, I’ve put my open access politics where my REFables should be.

I’ve written a journal article on the nature of art historical knowledge and its philosophical relationship to its physical archives. But rather than present that article all nicely peer-reviewed and in a high impact journal, I’m publishing it free online and inviting anyone and everyone to peer review it – publicly. I wanted my first full-length academic journal article to be in line with the online areas of art history that I research, where art and art history are freely shared. Because I am interested in the on- and offline networks that create and support our ideas about art, I wanted other people’s opinions to be integral to the piece. And as I run an academic book series that experiments with the relations between the form and content of art history books, I wanted to dig my own publishing sandpit (or rather, extend the one I already built when created PhD2Published).

As it’s not enough that I’ve gone all open access on art history’s ass, I also wanted to consider – along with the media-aware ideas in my article – what post-digital art history might be. Partly this is reflected in the fact the article is not print-published but it is also reflected in my decision to work with media artist Rob Myers to manifest what might be best described as a physical version of the article. Embedded within the text itself are links to a project where you can order your own version of a 3D printed hashtag of the phrase ‘art history’. This draws attention the fact all art historical writing takes some sort of physical form – whether it’s printed words on pages or tweeted hashtags on Twitter – and re-enforces my argument that art historians need to better understand our own media. It also allows the article to generate a number of new research objects. That is, as #arthistory is interacted with beyond the space of the article itself, it can become new things – crowdsourced things – which also (if not quite directly) support the article’s theories about the value placed on participative modes in online art contextual activity.

So here’s what happens. To read the article itself you can go here: http://www.gylphi.co.uk/artsfuturebook/

Or if that’s too long winded, you can also get the gist of the #arthistory component here: http://hasharthistory.net/

Ideally you’ll then either offer your peer review comments on the article and or you’ll purchase your own hashtag and start sharing photographs of it in use.

And then let’s all meet back here or on Twitter (I’m @charlottefrost) and discuss what we think of this as a project. Does it represent a step in the right direction for open access scholarship, the digital humanities and new forms of publication and research, or does it try to do too much at once? Does the theory at the heart of the article suffer due to the playfulness of the #arthistory project? Should such projects be evaluated and if so, how?

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A Scholarship of Generosity: New-form Publishing and Hybrid Pedagogy by Jesse Stommel
Posted by Charlotte Frost
Image from Mochimochiland.com

Image from Mochimochiland.com

This blog post by Jesse Stommel (Co-founder and Director of Hybrid Pedagogy) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects to share what their intentions were when they established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

The idea for the name of Hybrid Pedagogy came from a job talk I gave in October 2011. The thesis of that talk now sits on the journal’s homepage: “All learning is necessarily hybrid.” The line is inspired by a blog post from February 2010, in which I write: “The teacher 2.0 must shift the focus from individual learners to the community of learners, drawing new boundaries that reflect a much larger hybrid classroom.” This sentence also describes the work of new-form academic publishing, which draws new boundaries by upsetting the distinction between scholarship and teaching — between the work we do in journals and the work we do in classrooms.

When Pete Rorabaugh and I began discussing what would become Hybrid Pedagogy in early 2011, we wondered if what we were describing was a “journal” or something else entirely. At various points, we flirted with calling the project a “symposium,” “colloquium,” “collective,” or “school.” It was clear to us, from the start, that what we were creating was not a traditional academic publication. What we wanted to build was a network, a community for engaging a discussion of digital pedagogy, critical pedagogy, open education, and online learning. At the same time, we wanted to build a collection of resources to help facilitate conversations within that community.

We worked from the start to develop the journal openly, gathering together an advisory board that had virtual “meetings” on the web via the discussion forum on the site. The goal was to interrogate academic publishing practices by making them transparent — to lay bare our process while it was in formation. We published articles about peer-review before we had established our own peer-review process, inviting feedback and commentary. We crowd-sourced the majority of our initial decisions, down to the layout and design of the site.

Hybrid Pedagogy has become a publication that combines the best aspects of an open-access journal with the best aspects of a group blog (timeliness, a nimble publishing schedule, and direct engagement with readers). Through the articles we’ve published and events we’ve hosted (like MOOC MOOC and regular #digped chats), we’ve brought together higher education teachers, K-12 teachers, the open education community, students, and lifelong learners. We’ve worked to disrupt the conventions of academic publishing, while still maintaining a careful attention to detail, context, and critical engagement.

Based on input from our initial advisory board, we’ve developed what we call “collaborative peer review,” in which editors engage directly with authors to revise and develop articles, followed by post-publication peer review. Once an article is accepted for review, we partner a new author with an editorial board member (myself, Pete, Sean Michael Morris, and Robin Wharton) and a guest editor (usually someone that has already published an article in the journal). Editorial work is done both asynchronously and synchronously in a Google Doc that evolves through an open dialogue between author and editors.

We fully expect our process will continue to evolve. Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues, “Peer review is extremely important — I want to acknowledge that right up front — but it threatens to become the axle around which all conversations about the future of publishing get wrapped.” Going forward, I think it’s vital that every academic publication continuously (and even publicly) interrogates its own practices. Given how rapidly education is changing, we need to keep pushing ourselves to innovate — to learn from our mistakes — and to stay nimble in our approaches. We need to actively overturn the existing hierarchies and power dynamics that fuel unethical practices like blind peer-review, the proliferation of overpriced and barely read monographs, closed-access publishing, and business models that rely insidiously on the free labor of contingent faculty.

I’m glad Pete and I ultimately decided to describe Hybrid Pedagogy as a “journal,” exactly because this designation allows us to push on the boundaries of what, when, and how academic work gets published. The notion of an “academic journal” needs dismantling and reimagining. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue to have traditional academic journals, but that we need to considerably broaden the landscape to make way for dynamic collaboration, new media, and participatory culture.

Since launching Hybrid Pedagogy in January 2012, we’ve published 94 articles by 17 authors. The majority of these have been peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers (all but the earliest articles and #digped announcements). We’ve worked especially hard to encourage collaboration; 21 of the 94 articles we’ve published was written by two or more authors, including one article by five authors, one article by twelve authors, and one article by hundreds of authors. Articles have covered a wide range of topics, from MOOCs to digital writing — from intellectual property to personal learning networks.

Shortly after we launched Hybrid Pedagogy, Pete and I wrote an article about the changing nature of citation in the digital age — an article in which we made nods to the various sources for our work on the journal. In that article, we write, “In digital space, everything we do is networked. Real thinking doesn’t (and can’t) happen in a vacuum. Our teaching practices and scholarship don’t just burst forth miraculously from our skulls. The digital academic community is driven by citation, generosity, connection, and collaboration.” I believe generosity is what will drive the future of digital publishing.

Check out the most recent articles on Hybrid Pedagogy: Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 1 and pt. 2 and follow @hybridped on Twitter.

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Questioning the legitimacy of new-form digital projects: An autoethnography of #AcWri and PhD2Published by Anna Tarrant
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Image from Mochimochiland.com

This blog post by Anna Tarrant (aka PhD2Published’s Managing Editor and co-instigator of #AcWri) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship projects and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects what their intentions where when the established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

When I first contacted Charlotte just over a year ago asking if I could become the Managing Editor of PhD2Published, I never suspected what kind of new doors it would, and could, open for me. In this blog piece I reflect on the role PhD2Published has played for me in the early development of my academic career and muse about how online spaces such as this are integral to an emerging movement that is transforming academic knowledge production and empowering contemporary academics. While my personal experiences are fairly unique, one of the ways in which I think we can learn about and understand the position, increased uptake and legitimacy of online academic spaces is by adopting autoethnographic methodologies; reflecting on our own positions in these new online participatory cultures.

I found PhD2Published while looking for some guidance and support for my newly forming publishing plans. I was on a short, fixed term contract as a Senior Teaching Associate at the time, which meant that the majority of my thinking and time was dedicated to teaching plans, maintaining relationships with my students and marking. While I maintained a fantastic mentor in my PhD supervisor, I felt adrift. It wasn’t part of my paid role to publish at this point, but I was conscious of the need to develop personally in order to competitively pursue the career I so long for (something permanent that combines both teaching and research – note I am currently in my third short-term academic contract since Oct 2010). At this time, I knew that I had to have a publishing strategy and some personal goals to become established in my field. Feeling lost in my institution and disconnected in terms of my research aims and development, I went in search of something else; support, community, the ‘how to’ of academic publishing. In the end, I turned to the Internet for this support and PhD2Published couldn’t have provided a better opportunity.

In the past year or so, since being involved with the site as a Managing Editor, I have learnt so much. In brief, I have learnt how, and where to publish to maximize my impact. I have had two traditional style journal papers accepted, I have contributed to various blogs, including the Guardian Higher Education blog, I have learnt how to use Twitter, Facebook and other online platforms to enhance my professional profile and have set up my own professional blog, which has even attracted attention from people outside of academia. I have also up-skilled; not only have I learnt how to run and manage an academic blog, I have networked much more widely on a variety of social media platforms to the point where I am recognized for my work at conferences. I have learnt a great deal from others – having also collaborated on #Acwri, the monthly live chats Dr Jeremy Segrott and I run on Twitter. And I have continued to publicly share my experiences in order to support others.

The #AcWri live chats in particular were established by myself and Jeremy after PhD2Published’s writing initiative, AcBoWriMo (now AcWriMo), when Jeremy was publicly searching for a community for academic writing discussion. It was quickly recognized that a much larger community of academics (of different disciplines, career stages and nationalities) wanted support with the emotional, as well as practical elements of one of their main crafts. Jeremy and I decided to collaborate and run fortnightly live chats on Twitter focused on different aspects of academic writing under the hashtag #AcWri. The intention of this was to establish an on-going, online participatory community, an open platform for sharing knowledge about academic writing (empowering each member as experts in their right) and to generate useful resources in the form of sumWwri has been successful in these goals so far, but what does this mean for academic knowledge production and has this changed our ways of working?

The establishment of the #AcWri community has emerged from, and aligns with PhD2Published’s (and other sites’) ethos of open, participatory learning but it has also contributed to changing the ways we work/research, publish/share and network/support each other. It allows a diverse group of researchers to connect and share their knowledge beyond the physical boundaries of institutions and to publish in new ways that are available to others beyond academia. It has allowed for a more engaged and open conversation about the ‘hidden injuries’ (Gill 2009) of neo-liberal academia (in this case through frank discussions about writing, a key part of the publishing we need to do, or risk ‘perishing’). It also allows us to share our successes and failures, to support and to network with one another in ways that have been less available to us before. The need for these spaces is evident in that the community, in size and quality of contribution, has flourished and is also self-perpetuating without the need for Jeremy and I to intervene beyond the live chats.

Importantly, the increased use and uptake of these online academic sites indicates broader changes, both within, and outside academic institutions that cannot be ignored. What is (not) happening within institutions that is encouraging more scholars to go online? Is this indicative of an absence of support in contemporary academia for its staff, particularly those who are Early Career? All of these questions are beginning to be raised and I am really excited to be part of a group of scholars (who have also written for this series of blogs) who are reflecting on, and even theorising about the increased uptake of online academic spaces where academic knowledge production is taking place. Through my involvement with PhD2Published and #AcWri I have personally developed essential and empowering skills that are required by the contemporary Early Career academic and yet for some reason these spaces still lack legitimacy

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What Does Writing a Writing Lab Look Like? by Charlotte Frost
Posted by Charlotte Frost

Image from Mochimochiland.com

This blog post by Charlotte Frost (aka PhD2Published’s founder/director) is part of a series that asks after new forms of scholarship projects and demonstrates how academic out-put is changing in the digital age.

From blogs like the Thesis Whisperer to Twitter communities like #PhDchat there are a number of ways in which academics are harnessing digital communication technology to support each other and their work within and without institutions. And some are even outright reinventing what academic scholarship might be. We are well beyond the early phase of academic listserves and blogs and into a – perhaps third wave – of digital discourse design.

In this series I’ve invited the people responsible for these types of projects what their intentions where when the established them. How their projects have changed the way they (and we, as participants) work, research, share, support and interact with each other as global colleagues. And how they might describe what the emerging skill-sets are and their benefits and pitfalls.

People tend to think that PhD2Published is simply a blog about academic publishing. Well, that’s true, but there might be some in which it helps promote an understanding of publishing that you hadn’t realised about.

PhD2Published was set up as a research tool. What I mean is that I started the blog as a way to get myself published. I thought that by running a resource on publishing I would learn a lot about academic publishing that I could pass on. I could build a career platform for myself that would allow me to directly network with academic publishers. It functioned in a way that was like simultaneously writing and testing a ‘how to’ guide.

In addition to this, in order to run the site, I was having to learn about other publishing platforms as I went along. These were the publishing platforms of social media including WordPress and other blogging platforms, Facebook Pages, Twitter, YouTube, Google + (I still haven’t nailed Google + by the way) etc etc. Although not yet legitimate modes of publishing academic work, they are an increasingly important way in which we can do research and share our ideas. Jesse Stommel and I have referred to this open way of working as ‘public scholarship’ and even if the REF doesn’t officially recognise it, many of us recognise the strength it gives our work.

PhD2Published was designed as a public way of learning and sharing ways of being public with our work. However, knowing the framework I had built for going on this public learning journey, I wanted the site to be used by others in the same way. It might share all of its articles and advice for free, but my feeling was that it should also be free for people to use the same way I had. This is where the role of Managing Editor comes in.

Managing Editors are people who get to come on board and use the site to learn the same things I have – more, hopefully. They can publicly investigate the parts of academic publishing most relevant for their own career paths. For example, I was told I needed to get a book published but in many other areas of academia the journal article reins supreme. So a PhD2Published Managing Editor can use the project to compensate for what they didn’t learn at grad school and, like me, they can do this in a way that shares this knowledge and allows others to make use of it. They can also network directly with – say – the journal editors most likely to publish their work and find out well in advance of submitting, what the editors are looking for and what mistakes they must avoid making.

Likewise, they get to learn about how to use and write for all of the public ‘publishing’ platforms that the site functions on and that interest them. Twitter is increasingly used at conferences but if you’re someone used to having a Facebook account just for keeping in contact with close friends, it is a confusing realm to make sense of. Having to use all of these social media on behalf of PhD2Published and with all the archives of how they’ve been used in the past for the project as well as my advice and support, Managing Editors can quickly make appropriate use of social media.

In addition to all this, from the start, I have kept files on how PhD2Published operates which I give Managing Editors complete access to. This means that not only does a Managing Editor come on board and learn how to get published by expanding their knowledge of publishing and networking with prospective publishers. Not only do they learn how to use and write for a range of social media. But they also learn how to set up and run a resource dedicated to public scholarship. In a sense then, PhD2Published is like its own own little publishing laboratory.

I cannot emphasise the importance of this last aspect. It is more and more the case these days that an academic is required to handle certain public-facing aspects of their research. For many, this will mean having a web presence. It is all very well learning how to write a research paper, and it’s great to compare this with blogging and nail the art of writing a good blog post too, but what about building a community around your work? How much do you really know about doing that? And how much do you know about setting up an online project not just to showcase your work but to actually do quality academic research?

There may well come a point at which in addition or perhaps even instead of writing journal articles or a book, a researcher will be required to demonstrate their research-community-building credentials. Right now, institutions in the UK want to see cold hard REF-ables, but I believe it is only a matter of time before a successfully run knowledge-engagement-community itself becomes a REF-able output. What resources like PhD2Published do, therefore, is not just help early career academics consider what is required of them now, but it allows them to explore the future of academic research and publishing models and develop valuable transferable skills.

PhD2Published is a resource on and model for contemporary modes of knowledge generation and transfer. And yet I don’t know how to describe it. Recently I’ve taken to calling it ‘new-form scholarship’. If I had the time to write up all the things I learn from running it, I could argue that it forms part of a practice-based research model but in truth its just one part of my on-going research into publishing in the arts. I also lack the time and sometimes also the vocabulary to describe the benefits of being involved. Apart from anything else, it’s deeply empowering to set up your own project outside of an institution and build not just a knowledge resource but a dedicated community of participants. And it’s extremely rewarding to make a quite mystifying part of academia more transparent. It also takes a lot of work. Even when I’m not editing the site myself I’m working on it and last year’s AcWriMo (our off-shoot writing project) cost me (wait for it) over 100 hours of unpaid work to keep the information and motivation flowing.

So now what? How can we continue to harness the benefits and skills of these open and collaborative ways of working? How can we consolidate what is being learned this way and prove its academic credentials? Can we and should we fight for this work to be more legitimate or do we risk pinning the proverbial butterfly to the board and stilling the dynamism that makes it what it is?

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A Primer on Open Access Publishing: The Grass is always Greener (When Your Publications are Freer) by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the third in our series by Jason Colditz that explores the new and complicated world of Open Access Publishing. Post One provides a general primer on Open Access for the un-initiated and Post Two explores copyright issues and the “Gold Rule”.

This post discusses alternate routes to making your research publications available to the public (“OA Green” model). This model allows you to publish in a variety of journals (even journals that aren’t Open Access) and then to publicly archive the manuscript so that others are able to read and cite your work. This builds on my previous post that describes copyright transfer agreements and OA Gold, and assumes that you have some familiarity with Open Access in general.

A Fairly Common Scenario:

You want to make your results freely available for others to read, cite, and build upon. Unfortunately, you can’t afford to spend a couple thousand dollars to unlock the published version to the public, or maybe you’ve made up your mind to submit your manuscript to one of those ‘really prestigious’ journals that don’t offer such options. After two grueling rounds of revisions and some tweaks from the copy editor, you have an article in press. Congrats – your department chair (or tenure review committee, if you’re so lucky) will surely appreciate your accomplishment! Unfortunately, many of the researchers/practitioners in your field don’t have a subscription to the journal that you’ve published in and they probably won’t wager US$30 to purchase the full-text, even for an article as potentially groundbreaking as yours (note: write a good abstract so that others are interested to read the full-text).  You want others to cite your article, but the journal doesn’t allow you to post the published version on your website for the world to see. You need a work-around, preferably one that doesn’t cause the publisher to take you to court for violating your copyright agreement. Some journals are more permissive than others when you want to share your work with the world, and you might still have a trick or two up your sleeve: time to review your copyright transfer agreement!

Your copyright transfer agreement specifies what versions of your article you may share, with whom you may share them, and when. If you haven’t yet signed a copyright transfer agreement (better yet – if you haven’t yet decided on a journal), you can look into the permissiveness of various journals/publishers at SHERPA/RoMEO. “Self-archiving” your publication means that you’re uploading an electronic version of it to a publicly available Internet archive. Journals/publishers may allow you to post your final print version to an archive for various reasons.  Best case scenario: you are mandated to publicly archive your works if your research was funded through the National Institutes of Health (in the US) or Wellcome Trust (in the UK), and publishers are required to honor these mandates. Some universities also mandate that your work is added to publicly available university archives (e.g., Harvard in the US). A growing number of universities have such institutional mandates, and you may be able to find your institution in the Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies (ROARMAP). In this case, you should consult with your university librarians to determine how they can help you to archive your publication. If you don‘t have a government or institutional mandate for public access to your article, you may still be able to share your research on an institutional, topical, or other Internet archive.

Many institutions have non-mandated archives listed on the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) (search for your institution from the search bar in the top right corner), which provide an opportunity to archive your work. At this point, every institution has different methods of collecting and distributing publications, and so you will need to conform to the regulations of your institution as well as those of the journal that you publish in.  ROAR also lists topical repositories that you can search for by keyword (e.g., “education”), but be advised that topical archives are sparse for many fields.

At this stage of the game, you may want to post a pre-print in an institutional archive or on your personal website.  A “pre-print” is a version of your article that isn’t the final published version.  Many journals will allow you to archive the semi-final version of your article before editorial changes (i.e., the version that was accepted, but not the version that was published). More stringent journals will only allow you to archive the version that you submitted before the first round of peer-review. Based on the version that you are allowed to publicly archive (if you are comfortable sharing that version), it will still be helpful for other scholars to access and cite it.  If you archive a pre-print, be sure to list the full citation for the publication up-front, so that others are able to cite the published version of your work.

“OA Green” gives you the opportunity to share your scholarly publications with anyone (and everyone) who is interested in reading them, not just the scholars at institutions that subscribe to the journal. This is important because journal holdings are shrinking at university libraries and your publications are important to a broader audience than the handful of research universities that can afford it.

Stay open!

Jason

Resources:

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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A Primer on Open Access Publishing: Copyrights and the “Gold Rule”. Part Two by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the second of a blog series focusing on Open Access publishing, written by Jason Colditz. For an introduction to Open Access publishing and what it is, you can read Part One of the series here. 

This post will briefly discuss author copyright agreements and provide resources to help you to make your published research publicly available (“Open Access Gold” model). This is the most straightforward way to bring your research to the public who benefit from it – sharing your final publication with the largest possible audience. This model allows for public access and allows researchers/authors/media to freely cite and report on the final version of your work. If you want to build your public presence in your field and broader scientific/professional networks, the public availability of your research should not be taken for granted.

Every time you create a manuscript for publication, you have to shop around for the “best” journal in which to publish your work. Maybe you’ve done this before or maybe you’re planning to publish for the first time. Either way, it is exciting – another notch on your CV and an opportunity to share your work with your peers in the research community and beyond. It can also be anxiety provoking as you consider the venues that are the best fit for the content of your manuscript, and those that demonstrate enough impact for your work to be appreciated. When you think about impact, it is important to consider the “prestige” of the journal as well as the availability of the final publication. The publisher may ask you to sign-away certain rights of your intellectual property that will limit the availability/usability of your work, and you need to consider what you are giving up in order to get your paper to press (i.e., is it still legally “your” paper after it is published? – often times not).

Copyright Transfer Agreements

Publishers require you to sign a legal agreement that determines how your article can be used and shared. Some publishers (e.g., Elsevier) have complex restrictions on how your article is licensed and shared, while others (e.g., Public Library of Science) pride themselves on broad accessibility of research articles, with authors retaining copyright. To understand the complexities of copyright transfer agreements, you don’t need to be a lawyer – the basic principle is that you (authors) may do whatever you wish with a manuscript until you agree to trade certain freedoms for the privilege of publication. Simply put, some publishers require you to give-up more freedom than others…

“Not all publication agreements lead to problems, but many do. Some publishers, including scholarly journal publishers, ask for only a limited right of publication and generously leave other rights with you. Other publishers, however, insist on an assignment of the copyright and leave you with little or nothing. If that is your agreement, you may have lost all rights to use even your own work.”

Columbia University

“When you assign copyright to publishers, you lose control over your scholarly output. Assignment of copyright ownership may limit your ability to incorporate elements into future articles and books or to use your own work in teaching at the University.”

Cornell University

If you want a broad reach for your research, there are several things to pay attention to when choosing a journal/publisher:

  • Who owns the copyright to your published work (you or the publisher)?
  • How soon (if ever) will the article be made freely available to the public?
  • Are you permitted to post the publication on personal- or institutional websites?
  • Can the publication be freely reproduced for educational purposes?

For some publishers, the answers to these questions are: “Not you – never – absolutely not – no.” If you should get your research well-read and cited, those aren’t the answers that you want to hear. Open Access (OA) Gold publishers, on the other hand, will tell you: “You own it – your publication is publicly available – share it freely!” If you want to know more about the copyright agreements for particular journals or publishers, the University of Nottingham hosts the “SHERPA/RoMEO” website to help you decode and compare copyright agreements for most popular publishers. When looking at OA publishers, you will want to keep in mind what I call the “Gold Rule” of OA publishing (buyer beware)…

The OA Gold Rule: You might pay for what you get, but you don’t always get what you pay for.

Several mainstream journals provide an option to publish the electronic version of your article, free to the public, at a price to the author(s). Some Elsevier journals, for example, charge a one-time US$3,000 (or more) fee to release the article publicly. While there is a definite advantage to opening up access to your research article published in a highly-ranked journal, is it worth the fee? Maybe not – Elsevier and similar publishers may still retain the copyright to authors’ works. This isn’t exactly OA Gold in a practical sense (if the publisher owns the copyright, they may still restrict how the article is used). If your research was funded through certain agencies (e.g., National Institutes of Health in the US, Wellcome Trust in the UK), it has a mandated public release date within 6 months or a year anyway. Is an earlier public release worth $3,000 from your research budget? If you’re not funded by one of the big players in research, can you afford to pay out of pocket or from institutional funds? (Wouldn’t it be nice?)

While there is movement towards reimbursing some of these fees at an institutional level (e.g., U.C. Berkeley), that is more the exception than the rule, and it contributes to further racketeering by some publishers who will retain the copyright to your article and charge your institution for unlocking your article (which the publisher may still own). This presents another set of ethical as well as financial difficulties.

On the other side of the spectrum of “predatory publishers” are those who don’t offer much in the way of prestige (or not even peer-review) but will still charge you for publication. They may tout prestige and OA but function more as publication mills. These are often called “vanity journals”, and they will publish just about anything if you are willing to pay the price. Watch out for these, or else you might pay out of pocket for a publication that you wouldn’t want to list on your CV (or that you wish your tenure review board hadn’t discovered).

Then there is the Public Library of Science (PLoS), an exemplar of OA Gold practices. Its interdisciplinary publication, PLoS ONE, boasts a respectable impact factor, peer review, and fully open publication terms. It charges less than half of the bottom-dollar Elsevier rate and will waive publication fees for authors who can not afford to pay for publication. This is one example of many journals (some with no fees at all) that adhere to best practices of the OA Gold model. If you want to shop around for reputable OA journals, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is the place to start.

If OA Gold sounds a bit convoluted to you, you’re not alone! The publishing process is heavily politicized by powerful special interest groups that are more concerned with profit margins than continuity of scientific rigor and dissemination of knowledge (in practice if not in political activism). The process of OA publishing oftentimes runs counter to the traditional publication profit model and requires some ingenuity to navigate. OA Gold can be co-opted by publishers who don’t have the best interests of the research community in mind, and so you need to be an informed consumer when deciding to pursue the “Gold standard” in publishing your works.

Gold OA versus Green OA

Open Access is color coded to distinguish the two ways that you can get your research directly to the public. If you equate gold to money, you’re on the right track (though that needn’t be the case for many free electronic journals). Whereas OA Gold puts the finished (published) product in the public domain, OA Green can give you a work-around to get your research out there in other ways. Think of OA Green as the grassroots alternative to OA Gold. In the next post, we will cover the OA Green model that allows you (depending on the copyright transfer agreement) to archive a version of your article in the public domain.

Stay tuned, and stay open!

Jason

Resources:

Author’s Note: Mike Taylor, who provides an online oracle of Open Access activism (and sauropod vertebra pictures for paleontologists), was kind enough to comment on my original post’s use of “public domain”, which is a specific term denoting public ownership of works (i.e., a Creative Commons license instead of a copyright).  This is an important distinction to make when considering publisher copyright agreements.  The post has been edited accordingly and I hope to address this topic more fully in a future post.

Find out more about the OA Green model in the next in the series….Part Three of A Primer on Open Access Publishing.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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Part 1: A Primer on Open Access Publishing by Jason Colditz
Posted by atarrant

This post is the first in a series by Jason Colditz, who spends his days at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a full-time Research Coordinator (Department of Psychiatry), Teaching Assistant for the Dissertation Research Seminar (Department of Administrative and Policy Studies), and has consulted on several university-sponsored and individual research projects. In the Social and Comparative Analysis in Education graduate program, his comprehensive project focuses on policies and economics of Open Access publishing. In this set of blog posts, Jason extends a conversation started earlier on PhD2Published, introducing us to the world of Open Access publishing and exploring its implications for future academic publishing and careers.

Open Access (OA) publishing is a game-changer for researchers and academics who produce scholarly works.  While mathematics and physics have a rich history of making articles publicly available and medicine is moving in that direction thanks to funding mandates, OA is a relatively new development in social sciences and humanities fields. Over a series of posts, we will help you to understand the basics of OA, provide resources to help you make informed decisions about OA options, and consider the long term impact of OA publishing for emerging researchers and professionals in academia.

Background: Open Access as a Geopolitical Grassroots Movement

Recently, Open Access (OA) has received increased public attention on a global scale. The UK, Argentina, and others are moving towards federal mandates to make publicly funded research results available to the public, the US is under increased pressure to enact similar OA legislation, and advocacy groups are springing up around the globe. A driving force of this movement stems from universities and academic library associations that are unable to keep up with the hyperinflation of journal prices (i.e., “serials crisis”). The recent public mobilization arises from a growing awareness and discontent towards the unsustainability of journal publishers’ current business paradigms. In brief, for-profit journal publishers continually increase profit margins by charging the public to access the research that they have funded and by charging academic institutions to access the research results that they have produced. Researchers, librarians, and the public are uniting at a grassroots level, demanding a new model for sharing research results. Globally, researchers are boycotting publishing in Elsevier journals because of questionable business practices, and the public is petitioning the US government to mandate openness in publicly funded research results. As our global culture increasingly demands research findings to fuel innovation and social progress, and with technology making web-based electronic publications the norm, we are on the brink of shifting paradigms for sharing scientific knowledge…

Welcome to Open Access!

Simply put, OA is the free release of knowledge to the public who sponsor and benefit from it. This paradigm allows patients and providers to access medical research that informs treatment, allows educators to draw from relevant findings in teaching and learning theory, allows public policy makers and advocates to make scientifically grounded arguments, and allows scientists and the general public to stay abreast of current knowledge across all research disciplines. From an epistemological perspective, OA allows researchers to more readily access and build upon previous knowledge. From an academic career perspective, OA creates broader dissemination and citability of published articles. The only downside (if you can call it that) in moving towards a more open model of knowledge sharing is that publishers will need to adapt their profit models and academia will need to adapt to new technologies and develop new standards for evaluating the prestige of published works. This is similar to the process of adaptation that the record labels and musicians undertook when technology caught up to the recording industry. If we can learn a lesson from this recent history: don’t spend time and energy clinging to dated market conventions and do spend some time gaining an understanding of the emerging system. If you should adapt to emerging norms and remain competitive in open knowledge markets, the upcoming posts will help you to become confident in choosing appropriate venues for publishing your articles and will show you how to share your results beyond conventional publication channels.

Moving Along…

Now that you have some background, it is time to move into applications and provide you with some tools to make the publishing process easier. The next post will talk a little bit about author copyright agreements and provide resources to help you publish your research directly into the public domain (the “OA Gold” model). That will bridge us into discussing the “OA Green” model where authors publicly archive their published works. Finally, we will wrap-up with some practical considerations of OA, assessing article prestige (i.e., impact metrics), and how OA is contributing to new ways of measuring article impact and how that might affect your future academic career.

In the meantime, if you want to do your homework on OA, I recommend starting at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). If you do the Twitter thing, there are always interesting live updates on the #OpenAccess tag, or you can tweet @ColditzJB with questions.

Stay Open,

Jason

Follow Jason on Twitter: @colditzjb

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Why so shameless? On self-promotion and networking by Amber K.Regis
Posted by atarrant

Todays post is about the value of blogging and promoting research through social media. It is written by Amber K. Regis who completed her PhD in Victorian life-writing at Keele University. She is an Associate Lecturer for the Open University and teaches English literature at the Universities of Chester and Liverpool John Moores. She blogs at Looking Glasses on Odd Corners on life-writing and life-narratives across different media. She has published work on John Addington Symonds, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. You can follow her on Twitter: @AmberRegis

I started a research blog in the final months of 2011 in a wave of enthusiasm. I was going to become an overnight internet sensation; I was going to get my research ‘out there’, reach new audiences and make a name for myself! And do you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed the act of blogging, and while I’m still waiting go viral, I have managed to share ideas and start conversations with a multitude of readers (including many beyond the ivory tower of academe). But blogging is also a commitment that takes up time, and in recent weeks time has been desperately lacking.  Like so many other post-PhD researchers, I’m juggling multiple jobs while I seek the ‘holy grail’ of a permanent academic appointment. Prepping, marking and commuting has taken its toll and I’ve been neglecting my blog.

But, rather surprisingly, the blog has remained active during my absence. Others have started to take notice.

Shameless self-promotion?

I’ve already admitted that increasing my online presence was a key motive in setting up my blog, and it has received several special mentions in recent weeks:

  • A post on material objects and life-writing was quoted by Charlotte Mathieson, an Associate Fellow in English at the University of Warwick, in a recent piece on literary tourism for the Journal of Victorian Culture Online.
  • A keynote speaker at a recent Victorian Studies conference referred to a post on souvenirs and collecting. I was sitting in the audience. It was all terribly flattering, but I blushed and looked at my feet.

As a means of self-promotion, blogging appears to be paying off. Each special mention resulted in increased traffic and a number of Google search hits. Internet sensationdom is just around the corner…

But why is this kind of ‘self-promotion’ so consistently paired with the pejorative ‘shameless’? And why did I blush when my blog was mentioned at a conference? After all, wasn’t this what I wanted? But alas, was my face now registering the inevitable ‘shamelessness’ of attention seeking in the blogosphere?

Not-so-shameless self-promotion?

I do not believe that self-promotion is a shameless or even a necessarily selfish activity. Indeed, the three instances above demonstrate a range of benefits to increasing online visibility and engaging with social media. Attention has been drawn to my work, yes, but I have also engaged directly with other researchers, forging connections with peers and more senior academics. Social media have thus transformed self-promotion into a mode of continual networking—formerly an oft-dreaded activity that required awkward conversations over coffee cups during breaks in conference schedules. But networking can now extend beyond the temporal and physical space of a conference; conversations can start before an event and continue long after, mediated online.

So yes, all this blogging and tweeting is a form of self-promotion, but it is certainly not shameless. The clue is in the title: social media and the social web. Making connections, forming communities, offering support; in getting your name ‘out there’, you are not a voice crying out in the wilderness. Self-promotion in the age of the social web is very much a team sport; plugged-in academics are networked and networking all the time.

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Part 6 of Online thesis: On the Outside of Academic Publishing by Kathryn Allan
Posted by atarrant

The final post in this series about posting a thesis online is by Kathryn Allan. Kathryn completed her PhD (English) at McMaster University in 2010. Her doctoral thesis, Bleeding Chrome: Technology and the Vulnerable Body in Feminist Post-Cyberpunk Science Fiction, is awesome and available online for free here. She operates an (academic) copy editing and dissertation coaching business, Academic Editing Canada, as she pursues independent scholarly research into (feminist/cyberpunk) science fiction. Dr. Allan is currently putting together a collection of essays that deal with the representation of disability in science fiction. She tweets under @BleedingChrome.

When I finished my PhD in English Literature in 2010, I also said good-bye to the ivory tower. Frustrated with the current funding and work environment of academia (in North America), I set out on my own – and I took my dissertation with me. While my committee members encouraged me to consider publishing my thesis the old-fashioned way, I felt like it wasn’t the right option for me. Instead, I decided to publish my dissertation in pdf format and make it freely available on my professional blog to anyone interested in reading it.

At first, I was slightly worried that someone might plagiarize my work, but after a minute of thought, I remembered that nothing stops students who want to plagiarize from doing so, regardless of the medium of the text. With confidence, I made my thesis available on my blog. It shows up in relevant Google searches and I have repeatedly shared the link over email and Twitter with people who share my research and reading interests.

I share my thesis online because: (1) I believe that publicly funded work (like my Canadian graduate education) should be publicly accessible; and, (2) as an independent scholar who studies feminist and cyberpunk science fiction, I want to easily share my work with the science fiction fan community.

Accessibility

When I state that I believe academic work should be accessible, I mean it in all aspects of the word. I put in a good deal of effort into writing my thesis in language that can be followed by non-academic readers, so putting my thesis online is a natural extension of my dedication to open research and communication.

My PhD thesis is available on ProQuest through the university where I studied, but access to that database is still limited to people with university library access or who are willing and able to pay. Since I don’t believe that anyone should have to pay to read my thesis, simply having it available on academic marketed sites like ProQuest is not a good enough solution to accessibility.

Independent Scholarship

My thesis was a labour of love and passion for the subject matter. I want to share the knowledge I gained with as many interested individuals as I can. Admittedly, I also enjoy operating outside of the formal academic system. Science fiction, particularly the feminist science fiction of my interest, has generally been a marginalized field of study, so it felt right to pursue a more marginal and independent approach to publishing my dissertation.

One of my goals as an independent scholar is to connect with fans in the vibrant and diverse science fiction community. If my thesis was only available through one university and a pay-to-read internet platform, then most fans are not going to read it (or even know that it exists). While I could have arguably sought out a publisher to reach this fan audience, I am also aware that “free” and “online” appeal to far more readers. And it has.

It’s All Good

It has almost been a year since I made my thesis available online and the response I have received has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people – some are academics, some are science fiction fans – have emailed or tweeted me about my thesis. Most of the comments I get are “thanks for sharing” or specific nerdy questions about something I’ve written. To date, I can’t think of one drawback from having my thesis online. Not a single one. I don’t intend on applying for an academic position, nor am I pursuing independent scholarship for financial gain. For me, there is simply is no downside to having my thesis online.

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Part 5: Where can I make my PhD thesis available online?
Posted by atarrant

If, having considered all of the issues, you still feel that you want to make your thesis available online, the question you may now face is where to post it? This blog post explores where you can publish your thesis online and what options there are.

Library and university archives for E-Theses

According to Emily Kothe on Twitter (@emilyandthelime) some universities already require students to post their thesis online upon submission, along with paper copies. When I submitted in July 2011 I was not required to do this, but having contacted the librarian at the university where I conducted my PhD, I learned that it has now become a requirement for students submitting their thesis from 2011/2012 onwards to submit a further digital copy. I missed out on this but have been informed that if I want to, I can make it available through this outlet. At present I am uncertain who is aware of this service, other than students who submit their thesis to it from now on, or who can access the service beyond the university, if at all. According to the online deposit for Lancaster University (which you can view here) there are benefits to both the student and the university itself:

For the student

  • Increased visibility for your work
  • Easier access to your thesis
  • Raise your personal profile
  • Can use digital services such as links to datasets, videos etc.

For Lancaster University

  • Raise institutional profile
  • Showcase successful graduate research

There are several of these services now available and visible through a simple Google Search that PhD students in particular may find useful if they are looking for ways to structure their thesis and want to look at some examples of theses that have passed. Durham University depository and Nottingham University depository are good examples. It may be important too inform academic book publishers if your thesis is available in this way; these issues are discussed in Part 3 of this series.

Ethos – British Library

Rob Myers on Twitter (@robmyers) initially drew attention to Ethos, an electronic online thesis service run by the British Library (see Part 4 of this series about EThOS by Sara Gould). This is a site I had actually used myself when writing my PhD. I downloaded some theses in order to explore how they were structured and to access additional research in my topic area. My university does subscribe to the service and I was informed that “if a thesis is only available in print form, we send it to the British Library to be digitised, and the person making the request has to pay the British Library £40 towards the cost of digitisation”, not entirely free but eventually Open Access. There are now 44,000 online theses available, and to download a copy you first need to register so that records can be kept and to ensure the intellectual property of the author is protected.

Personal Blog Site

I have also considered posting a copy of the thesis to my own personal blog. Before I posted it online however I wanted to check copyright right and intellectual property issues, something that RuthFT (@RuthFT) warned me of and that I discuss in Part 2 of this series. Some universities hold intellectual property rights to the thesis even if you have written it and conducted the research for it so it is essential that this is considered before rushing ahead to do it. A librarian at my university informed me that because my thesis is an unpublished piece of work it can be uploaded online on my personal blog, as long as I respect and observe the rights of those who participated in the study, which of course is part of ethical research practices anyway. It is highly recommended that you check with your own institution first though because rules may differ.

There are therefore several places where the unpublished PhD thesis can be deposited online, if you deem the issues detailed in previous posts to be outweighed by the benefits of disseminating your research more widely. These are just a very few of those I have explored (in repsonse to Part 3 for example user moorbi, introduces us to GRIN, a free German publisher). Having researched this in greater detail, I am still concerned that by posting my thesis online I may face additional challenges in publishing a monograph. This ultimately has become an issue of Open Access and I have to admit I find it encouraging that universities (in the UK at least) and EThOS and the like, are making it easier for PhD researchers to make their PhD research available online.

I’d love to hear more about this issue, particularly if anyone is against doing this or has critiques of it (most people I have spoken to support onlinethesis). Please do get in contact if you want to add, or contribute any ideas and do let us know if you plan to submit your thesis online (#onlinethesis).

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Part 3: Should you make your thesis available online? Thinking about publishing
Posted by atarrant

You have made your thesis available online, but does that affect whether or not it will get accepted for publication as a monograph? Academic publishers have varying opinions about this…

This is a very important issue for postdocs who are planning how to disseminate and publish the findings from their PhD research and an increasingly common question that academic publishers are now being asked. It was this question that originally kick-started my desire to run this blog series and start this conversation (#onlinethesis). I know that I am not the only one who has been dealing with this question either. One of the comments made in relation to Part 1 of this series was that a thesis that is available online is something that may be seen as problematic to publishers if a monograph based on a PhD is proposed. Others on Twitter are also interested in how publishers responded to this question. I contacted several publishers to find out more about this and these were the responses.

Jay Dew of University of Oklahoma Press informs me that this is a question he is frequently asked and his response is in favour of making theses online:

“On the whole, I don’t believe that having a dissertation or thesis available online works to the detriment of publishing a monograph. Indeed, more and more dissertations and theses are available online through library databases such as Dissertation Abstracts, etc. A dissertation and a book are two different things, with two different and distinct audiences. The revisions that are almost always necessary to bring a dissertation into book manuscript form are usually substantial enough that one need not cannibalize the other. There may be exceptions, of course, especially in the hard sciences, but at least for my press and the kinds of books we publish, this is not a problem.”

John Yates of University of Toronto Press extends this debate further arguing:

“I believe the situation in North America is different from yours [in the UK]. I understand that here all PhD thesis are licensed to ProQuest. I also understand that in Canada, theses are posted on-line by University libraries. Consequently scholars have quite a bit of work to do to convert their thesis into a scholarly monograph since libraries are not interested in purchasing titles that are effectively a thesis with minor revisions.

In your situation, if there is no requirement to post the thesis on-line and you’d like to have it published it as a monograph, I would think by not posting it on-line you’d be able to have the monograph published sooner, since fewer changes would be required than if the full thesis was publicly available on the web.”

The responses I have received in relation to this issue support the idea that making a thesis available online is generally acceptable to academic publishers, as long as the proposed monograph is substantially different to the submitted PhD thesis. Nonetheless, concerns are still evident amongst authors and researchers and it is recommended that potential publishers are contacted in advance of proposing a monograph to find out how they view this because opinions may vary depending on discipline and research topic. A more specialised research topic for example with a smaller market and audience may be seen as more problematic for some publishers if the material is already accessible online. It is possible to embargo the publication of your thesis in university depositories if this is considered an issue and you plan to propose a monograph but it is increasingly important to make this decision before the thesis is submitted, and made available electronically.

The key message then, is that the monograph based on a PhD thesis should be in substantially different format to the submitted PhD. Publishing houses from different countries are in agreement about this as presented here but it is important to be aware that making it available in an online depository may slow down the process of writing a book. It is also important to check the position of publishers who you wish to write book proposals for, to ensure that your decision is well informed. In a period of increased debate over open access to research, making the thesis online should not be, and doesn’t appear to be, a barrier to publishing a monograph but is certainly a consideration.

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Part 2: Should you make your thesis more widely available online? Fear of idea theft
Posted by atarrant

Following my first post that introduced my musings on the debate about making a PhD thesis or dissertation available online, this blog explores the issue of fear in relation to the theft of your ideas. This is an issue that is fairly central in Alex Galarza’s article for @GradHacker. The student in question feared that their ideas may be more susceptible to being stolen if they were to be made available online; a reasonable assumption given that, if the intention to put your thesis online is to make it more widely accessible, then the more likely it is that the ideas can be accessed and potentially lifted.

For me, this fear is not altogether unfounded and essentially boils down to a lack of knowledge about how online material is managed and regulated. In university teaching in the UK at least, students are taught about plagiarism, or the use of someone else’s work without acknowledgement, and are warned of the need to avoid doing it. Not only is it considered bad academic practice, but a plagiarised essay or piece of coursework is more likely to be of poor standard. As academics this becomes deeply ingrained in everyday working and writing practices, and is currently regulated through the processes of peer review and assessment. How this may be regulated online however, is less clear and the boundaries of citing and discussing the work of others is increasingly blurred.  Similarly if the aim of publishing online is to reach broader audiences, there is potential that those audiences are unfamiliar with referencing practices or maybe unwilling to use them.

A research paper about electronic theses by Copeland et al (2005, pg 195) suggests however that ‘it is easier to detect instances where this activity [plagiarism] has taken place when the material is published on the web. Electronic detection software is available’. My university in the UK uses Turn-It in for student essays for this purpose.

While this is comforting to know to some extent, an important thing to do before making your thesis available online is to check the copyright regulations of the archive you post to and to ensure that you own those rights as primary researcher. This should discourage any potential theft, protect your property rights and discourage the potential for idea theft by others. Where you make the thesis available online is also a consideration. The chances of having your ideas stolen and reproduced online or elsewhere are much less likely if you post to a university online archive than a personal blog for example because these are better regulated. It is also recommended that you seek advice from your PhD supervisor before posting online to check if there are any issues with copyright that you hadn’t thought of (especially important if the work is funded). You could also protect your work using a Creative Commons license. These allow ‘everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work’ (Creative Commons website).

Fear of theft of your work when making it more readily available online is reasonable, and was something that led me to research and produce this series of blog posts. However there are frameworks and laws in place that are designed to protect your ideas and your intellectual property, as well as new technologies that are detecting plagiarism online. Make sure you are aware of these before you make your research outputs available online however. If you want to disseminate your work more widely to broaden its impacts, you should be able to, and it is important that academic work is accountable but also used in appropriate ways.

A recent hashtag on Twitter that has been used in relation to these ideas (and also Will’s post) is #notopenenough (thanks @ThomsonPat). Publishing online is becoming more popular, and hopefully fear of theft won’t stand in your way in your quest to make your research more widely known.

Join the conversation at #onlinethesis.

Reference

Copeland, Susan,  Penman, Andrew and  Mime Richard (2005) “Electronic Theses: The Turning Point.” Program: Electronic Library & Information Systems 39, no. 3 : 185-197.

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The Now Frontier: Posting Dissertations Online
Posted by atarrant

A note from Anna: As part of a series of blogs on PhD2Published about Online Theses, Will Deyamport, III explains why he will definitely post his dissertation online. To engage in this conversation on Twitter please use the Online Thesis hashtag #thesisonline

Will Deyamport, III is an Ed.D student in Educational Leadership and Management at Capella University. He is the founder of peoplegogy.com, a blog that focuses on life and career developments. He is a monthly contributor to MyPathfinder Career Blog, where he writes about higher education. Currently, Will is writing his dissertation on how Twitter can support the professional learning needs of teachers.  You can follow him on twitter @peoplegogy.

This digital world we live in isn’t going anywhere. We pay bills online, we shop online, we make phone calls online, we date online, and now we’re streaming movies and going to school online. So why wouldn’t I post my dissertation online?

Has the academy become so insular that it has failed to understand and embrace the realities of this digital age? Has it become so arrogant that it believes that it can remain the sole guardian of academic knowledge? Or has the academy so blindly held on to its beliefs of what scholarly work is that it refuses to see this work being published on a daily basis on blogs around the globe?

Whatever its reasons, I plan to publish my dissertation online and here’s why:

  • I happen to have a passion for digital media and most of what I read is read online.
  • What I do and want to do for a career is done online. I’ve been a social media strategist, I blog, and I am earning my doctorate online. So for me the online space is a place of isn’t some separate entity. It’s a part of who I am and how I express my ideas.
  • I am a digital citizen. As such, I see the online world as the way for mobilizing the world towards a common humanity.
  • I routinely seek out information online. Whether it is via Youtube, LinkedIn, or my personal learning network on Twitter, I am able to gain access to experts from a variety of fields and disciplines.
  • I believe that academic knowledge belongs to the masses and should be made available and given freely to those who seek it.
  • My dissertation is on teachers using Twitter to support their own professional development.  The topic doesn’t belong is some bound book. It was meant to be posted online and shared with scholars and practitioners alike.

The ivory tower and those who worship at its feet need to understand that education is no longer insular. Holding information hostage does nothing for the academy or the betterment of society. In order to truly build a thriving academic knowledge-base and further the continued and expansive research expected in academia, technology has to be a part of how that research is shared and disseminated. Using emerging technologies, schools have the capacity to expose its students’ research to every corner of the globe. It is with this type of free exchange that the academy can reinvent itself and lead the way in today’s growing global economy and workforce.

Moving forward, I would like to see every doctoral student publish their dissertation on ProQuest or some other online platform. Just like TED has revolutionized the conference model, as current and future scholars, we have an opportunity to revolutionize the way people think, learn, and are taught about academic research.

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Should you make your thesis more widely available online? Part 1
Posted by atarrant

A brief note from Anna: Being Managing Editor of PhD2Published has been a fantastic opportunity for me so far. It has introduced me to lots of interesting people and has helped me to think about key issues I am facing post-PhD. My current thinking is about whether or not to make my PhD thesis more readily available online. This post, which is the first in a series, explores this idea in more detail.

Impact has increasingly become an academic buzzword and requirement, which has led me to think much more about my PhD thesis, its accessibility and the impact it could (and should) have on a variety of audiences, both academic and public. I have heard from several colleagues that the only people who are ever likely to read the actual thesis are yourself and your supervisor (my family and friends certainly haven’t read it!). Frankly this seems wasteful and a bit sad (just look at the picture!), especially considering all of the hard work that went into it, including by myself, my participants and my supervisors. Even with the potential of developing publications and monographs from it in different formats, later on, in its unpublished form, my thesis is meaningful to me and took time and effort to construct.

This thinking prompted me to consider how I could make my thesis more accessible and more widely read, particularly in an age of social media and open access. Before launching into making it available online however, I wanted to do some research into the potential barriers to publishing online and the current debates that will inform this decision.

Following these musings, I posted this question on Twitter: “What are people’s opinions on making theses available online?” Several interesting and important issues and questions were raised. While limited,  there is already an emerging debate about the digital dissertation, which you can read about in this interesting and informative post by Alex Galarza for @GradHacker. There are several positives for doing this, and indeed many universities are now making it a requirement, if it isn’t already. @Gradhacker outlines that online material such as the unpublished thesis for example is still protected by copyright, useful to know if there is concern about the acknowledgement of your work. At the same time, in being overly cautious about protecting your thesis/dissertation you may risk restricting the development of your academic identity, online and otherwise. Furthermore (and some publishers may vary on this) putting your thesis/dissertation online may actually aid in the communication and appeal of your research to a variety of audiences and may even encourage sales of subsequent published work should you wish to publish it elsewhere in a different form. Twitter follower Christina Haralanova (@ludost11) has also received positive replies from people who have read hers.

Despite the many positives, I still think it is important to consider the range of different issues relating to putting a PhD thesis out there; issues that I will explore in a short series of blogs that will be posted here on PhD2Published in the coming weeks. These include posts I have constructed myself, and also opinion posts, and feedback from academic publishers. If any of this resonates and you have anything to add that has occurred to you, please do get in touch, either by Email or Twitter (@PhD2Published). Should you wish to join an online discussion on Twitter about the debate please use hashtag thesisonline (#thesisonline).

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Weekly Wisdom #69 by Paul Gray and David E. Drew
Posted by atarrant

WRITE MOST OF YOUR ARTICLES FOR REFEREED JOURNALS. Papers presented at meetings get you funds to be a world traveler. However, even if refereed, conference papers don’t really count for tenure, promotion, or salary raises.

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