Jason Priem spoke at The Ohio State University Libraries on March 5th, 2013. His talk focused around three areas. A link to the complete presentation is located at the end of the post.
Setting up the System
He gave a quick rundown of the history of publishing and noted that when scholars shared data/information it was done through the letter. It made the best of available technology. However, in 1665 there was a revolution with the scholarly journal and with this change new standards were created. Articles developed structures.
With the web, it’s now time for a second revolution. Publication is nearly free and we’re no longer using the web to its full potential. We are still using the best technology of 1665. His contention is that science of the future will be in the analysis NOT in the collection of data. Open data allows researchers to replicate results exactly OR do a mashup of data and add your own analysis.
Another interesting change in the realm of scholarly publishing relates to the conversation around research. In building from the invisible college, researchers are able to share answers and, more importantly, share questions. Math Overflow is an example, similar to Stack Exchange, where tough questions can be examined, debated, and solved by experts or novices. These type of resources, like Wikipedia, allow for experts to emerge based on their area of expertise, not on their institutional affiliation. The crowd will self-patrol and promote resources of high value.
Currently people are confusing form with purpose. Publishing used to mean “the act of making public.” Therefore a tweet, a blog post, a journal article, would all be forms of making information available publically. Information can be made public very quickly. Then it is imperative to set up good filtering systems. Today academics spend about the same amount of time reading as they did in the 1970s; however, more is being read because more is being published. Jason argues that if you do the same thing only faster and more of it that the system is broken. His solution? Set up your own personal journal. If the article can be decoupled from the journal, you are able to filter to only get the information that is relevant to you and your research interests. One way is to set up a Tweetdeck. This will allow for great peer review of articles of interest. You’re also able to target your own research for feedback to an audience that is extremely interested in your output.
The second portion of the talk focused on measuring impact of research. You learn to value what you measure. Citations are one measure of impact, but not the only measure.
Instead he proposes examining both scholarly and public audiences as well as engagement levels:
Bibliometrics measures impact on scholarship. Altmetrics measures impact on the web. Altmetrics can provide a better case for both funding and tenure because it’s examining how embedded the research is into the web, not just the sliver of peer-reviewed journals. One way to examine altmetrics is through Priem’s project Impact Story. It is able to examine traditional products (journal articles) but also datasets, videos, code, etc. for its immediacy and impact.
Changes to Scholarly Publications
At this point Priem moved onto examining scholarly communication methods and made a case for dissolving journals. Again he emphasized that the web was originally conceived to be a scholarly communication tool but it isn’t being used in that way now. Scholarly communication channels are mainly focused around publication in peer-reviewed journals. This process is time consuming and expensive. Moving journals online is not a new approach. Many online journals are the same format as the print, only they’re online. Along these lines, scholars need to have the ability to mine their networks.
Jason presented a futuristic approach whereby journals no longer are the sole venue for publication. Instead many articles will be decoupled from journals and the articles will be offered up a la carte where they undergo peer review by experts who would award articles stamps of approval. The same article could be endorsed by a number of reviewing bodies. These endorsements would serve to establish credibility of the research. In this world, researchers would also have CVs with altmetrics including number of downloads, tweets, blog posts, popular media acknowledgements, and endorsements for each item. This approach would offer a complete picture that indicates the initial impact as well as capture the ripple effect of the scholarship.
In such a world what constitutes scholarship will certainly evolve and how the scholarly communication pathways grow and change will certainly be exciting! See the complete slideshow for further details.