Monday, January 27, 2014

Academic Writing: Take 2.

A few posts back, I wrote about (ranted about?) publishing as an academic researcher. It seems others have been struggling with the traditional approach as well. I came across a few posts on this topic in the past few weeks. Check them out:

Bon Stewart wrote a post about her reflections on writing as an academic. To quote a short section:
 I’ve been trying to be both networked scholar and proper academic, whatever that is. I’ve been trying to wear two entirely separate hats and engage in two entirely separate identity economies and…well, it’s a mug’s game.
And I don’t want to do it anymore. But. I’m not sure, frankly, which parts to drop.
 I shared some of the same thoughts - although certainly not as eloquently as Bonnie, whose writing is so very good. My post was more about how highly valued publishing in major international peer reviewed journals as opposed to the value of other work done by those in higher education. A week or so later, I noticed a tweet linked to a post by Wesley Fryer who also wrote his frustrations with higher education. In particular he comments;
I have zero desire to publish in paywalled journals a very limited number of people are ever likely to read. I’m interested in supporting open educational research and publishing.
In his post, Fryer referenced another post by Sarah Kendzior ("What's the Point of Academic Publishing"). The following excerpt encapsulates the argument:
In order to maintain her professional viability, Day stopped work that she and the public found meaningful—work that directly relates to her role as a teacher—in order to have time to produce work that “counts” to a small number of academics. To “count” is not to spread knowledge, as Day did, or develop new ideas, as Higgs did. To “count” is to preserve your professional viability by shoring up disciplinary norms. In most fields, it means to publish behind a paywall, removed from the public eye—and from broader influence and relevance. To “count” is to conform. 
I think all these authors agree, and I don't want this to seem against publishing, it is an important part of being an academic researcher & thinker - academic publishing is important and has its merits. It is a way to share ideas, research that can spur change or support other avenues of study. There is value in a peer review process - those are not the issues, as far as I am concerned. It does seem, however, that it is valued above all other work and other types of publishing. As well, often academic researchers have to give away the copyright to their own work, some journals charge a publishing fee, and then the journal is behind a paywall - and usually a pretty pricey one at that. As well, all to often the goal is to publish - period (but that was the lament in my previous post). I have decided that I will try to publish only in open access journals as I move forward. In terms of the academic game, I am fortunate since I work at a small prairie university whose faculty of ed does value K-12 experience (& I have 30 years of that). I have earned tenure ... now to get some publications so I can go for promotion in a few years! Of course, I must complete this darn P.h.D first ...

Now, I promise not to raise this again, at least for awhile ;-)

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