Coming Soon: SAGE Open

by Nick Jankowski on 28 February 2011

For a range of personal and professional reasons, I have been following (and am tangentially involved in) a new open access initiative by SAGE Publications called SAGE Open. This journal initiative was announced at the beginning of 2011. I have known about it somewhat longer because the initiators invited me to join the editorial board, which I did with pleasure and with some degree of uncertainty. The pleasure of the acceptance to the board relates to a strong interest in the open access ‘movement’ among academic journals (and books to a lesser degree). The uncertainty relates to aspects of the review procedure for article selection and the financial model on which the title is based.

First, a few aspects of the article selection procedure. The informational text about SAGE Open states (special phrases highlighted in italics) :

SAGE Open seeks to be the world’s premier open access outlet for academic research. As such, it evaluates the scientific and research methods of each article for validity and accepts articles solely on the basis of the research.  This approach allows readers greater access and gives them the power to determine the significance of each article through SAGE Open’s interactive comments feature and article-level usage metrics. Likewise, by not restricting papers to a narrow discipline, SAGE Open facilitates the discovery of the connections between papers, whether within or between disciplines.

Each article undergoes rigorous peer review; the approach of SAGE Open’s peer review process, however, differs from that of traditional journals. Rather than assessing the relative ‘importance’ of a given article to its respective field, peer review will instead focus solely on determining the quality of research methodology, that is, determining whether the research was conducted properly, the discussion accurately summarizes the research, and the conclusion follows logically from the research. Readers and the academic community at large will then have the power to continue the peer review process after online publication, helping to determine the significance of each article through SAGE Open’s interactive comments feature and article-level usage metrics.

The objective to become the ‘world’s premier’ in this kind of publishing reads like marketing copy and does not seem an appropriate description for the goal of an academic title. More fundamental, though, is the elaboration of the particular form of peer review for submissions: focus on the research methodology rather than many other considerations, most notably whether a submission contributes ‘new knowledge’ and is embedded within the literature of a field of scholarship. It seems hardly suitable to publish, say, a manuscript based on well-performed survey research methodology, but lacking attention to relevant theoretical framework and constructs for the topic of the study. Perhaps the phrase ‘conducted properly’ covers the relation between study methodology and its theoretical grounding, but that seems like an exageratted interpretation.I consider this narrow focus on methodology  a fundamental flaw in the peer review procecure being proposed for SAGE Open and inadequate to determine the quality of a manuscript for an existing body of knowledge.

The text further suggests that peer review will continue after publication because of the availability of a comment function on the Website of the journal. This idea is little more than the kind of continued peer review that has always existed for published work: readers have the opportunity to (critically) address the work in their own scholarship. The peer review is to be ‘rigorous’ and rapid. The first term is, however, frequently the antithesis of the second: a rigourous review procedure takes time on the part of reviewers, journal editors and manuscript authors, and the procedure very often extends over several iterations of exchange between these ‘players’ in the assessment procedure.

Finally, an issue that may be critical to authors considering SAGE Open as venue for their work is the price tag: a fee of 695 USD for articles accepted for publication (with a ’special introductory rate’ of 195 USD, and no idea as to when the marketing-style discount will terminate). There are (major, research oriented) universities establishing funds for this kind of fee exacted from some open access journals (e.g., the biology and medical science PLoS titles have had a business model of ‘payment when possible’ for several years), but this approach is uncommon (if not unknown) in the social sciences. It might take several years before a change transpires in the current approach to authors not having to pay for their manuscripts being published. How will, I wonder, SAGE Open fare in the period prior to such cultural change….

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Just Released: J. of Information Policy

by Nick Jankowski on 28 February 2011

A week ago the discussion lists to which I subscribe were awash with announcements of a new academic periodical: Journal of Information Policy (JIP). Only now am I getting around to examining the first issue of this online-only open access title. For several reasons the initiative is impressive:

  • a quality academic focus;
  • impressive array of scholars involved in the advisory and editorial boards;
  • interesting panorama of articles and reviews in the first issue;
  • policy of open access.

The text describing the ‘focus and scope‘ of the periodical that the journal will be both  international and multidisciplinary, and will address a wide range of issues related to information policy:

Telecommunications (e.g. regulatory models and structures, universal service, digital divide, network neutrality, access charges, competition, etc.)
* Information society (e.g. knowledge production and distribution, e-readiness, quality of life metrics, e-government, e-commerce, etc.)
* Regulation and governance (e.g. statutes and amendments, regulatory issues, structure of regulatory agencies, etc.)
* Informatization (e.g. integrated views of information technology from an overall perspective)
* National broadband plans
* Privacy
* Security
* Ethical issues of new technologies
* Intellectual property
* Gender and information technologies
* Community
* Electronic media industries
* Internet applications and services
* Unserved and underserved audiences
* Standards
* Mobile technologies

While most of these keywords can be relatively easily associated with policy concerns, ‘community’ stands out as peculiar in the list and seems, at best, significantly different than, say, issues like privacy and security. That minor matter aside, it will be valuable to follow the title as it develops, and I suggest we examine some of the contributions in this maiden issue later in this seminar.

Separately, on another blog, I’ll examine some of the more publishing-oriented features of this new title: the platform employed (Open Journal Systems), the Creative Commons copyright, relation of the title to the Ford Foundation, and the distinct lack of so-called ‘enhanced’ features (e.g., active hyperlinking, dynamic visualizations, multimedia ‘objects’ within document, interactive exchange between readers and authors) available within a Web-based publishing environment.

For now, just a single query: what other periodicals deal with information policy and the above list of keywords? A list of such periodicals is probably very long, but even when a narrow formulation is considered a few specialized titles come to mind:

The overriding question, then, is: How will JIP differentiate itself among the already existing titles addressing (some of) the same issues?

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Reactivating Seminar Blog

by Nick Jankowski 27 February 2011

As the semester begins and as the seminar ‘New Media and Society’ starts at the Univ. of Ljubljana, I am reactivating this course blog. It’s been dormant since last year when used as a reflective online space. As in previous years, I’ll be noting the student blogs in the blogroll in the right frame and [...]

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Privacy Revisited

by Nick Jankowski 15 March 2010

In an earlier post today, entitled the illusion of privacy and placed on a separate blog for a course on social media, I mused about the availability of personal information on the Web, intended or unintended, and the relation of such information to privacy. The upshot of the piece was that the social media user [...]

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The Virtual Revolution

by Nick Jankowski 4 March 2010

The Virtual Revolution

During the past weeks the BBC has been airing an impressive four-part series program, The Virtual Revolution; part 4 was rebroadcast last night on BBC2. Discarding the popular tone of the title (and of the earlier working title ‘The Digital Revolution’), the series brings together an engaging panorama of the potentials and problematic [...]

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Welcome: A Reinvigorated Restart

by Nick Jankowski 4 March 2010

This is the course blog that I maintain for seminars I teach on new / digital media. Previous blogs for seminars taught at the University of Ljubljana are located here and here. The blog for a seminar taught at State University of New York (SUNY-IT) in the autumn of 2009 precedes this new welcome post, [...]

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OU Tools: Mapping Ideas

by Nick Jankowski 3 December 2009

The UK Open University has a pioneering and innovative division called OpenLearn that, among other things, develops tools for learning. One of the tools is called Cohere and is designed to map ideas in an electronic and networked environment. The description from the Cohere site describes the tool as;
an experimental knowledge mapping tool that runs on [...]

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Virtual Worlds…which one for educational venues?

by Nick Jankowski 3 December 2009

A relatively new (October 2009) report, Choosing virtual worlds,  is designed to help select an appropriate virtual world for educational objectives, particularly at the college and university level. As would be expected Second Life is the primary platform, but others, notably OpenSim (an abbreviation for Open Simulator), are runner-ups, according to the survey of UK academics on which [...]

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APA and DOI

by Nick Jankowski 15 November 2009

In a recent assignment for this course, I ‘reprimanded’ a student for including doi codes (digital object identifier) in the references provided and said that “I had never seen them used in published references”. Although I haven’t seen them, they are becoming more frequent and APA (American Psychological Associatiion) style guide, 7th edition **does** discuss [...]

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Course Management Software: WebCT, ANGEL, Blackboard

by Nick Jankowski 11 November 2009

During a meeting today at the Virtual Knowledge Studio (VKS) about platforms for distant collaboration, a couple of persons present mentioned the software systems used in teaching online courses. The management software ‘tossed on the table’ included: WebCT, ANGEL, Blackboard, and the granddaddy of online cabinet collections: BSCW. I couldn’t help but try to trace the [...]

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Reference software: 'Goliath' RefWorks vs 'David' Mendeley

by Nick Jankowski 6 November 2009

Alternatives for reference management software are about as plentiful as word processing programs used to be several decades ago. Two contenders for market leadership are EndNotes and RefWorks – not that they are the ‘best’ but they do seem to dominate the academic sector of users. One of the many ‘Davids’ as compared to these [...]

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Elluminate: here **we** come….

by Nick Jankowski 23 October 2009

This week I completed the two-part required training in using the distant learning / collaborating software package called Elluminate. SUNY-IT has a license (I understand) to use this package in its distance education program, and I am anxious to incorporate it into this class, COM418 / IDT 518. I expect several applications within the remaining [...]

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OneNote: Microsoft’s Little Known Academic Application

by Nick Jankowski 18 October 2009

While preparing a couple of future course assignments on reference management note-taking software I came across t the following post about Microsoft’s OneNote: Note Taking Power Tool. That review reflected my own experience and intuitive sense of the tool that I can’t resist quoting from the post:
First, a confession. I had Microsoft OneNote on my [...]

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Twitter Research, Academic Blogging

by Nick Jankowski 15 October 2009

The following post on the AoIR discussion list attracted my attention for several reasons: First, because the person was looking for scholarship on the use of Twitter in a business setting; second, because the person did not search the AoIR archive (which does contain references to Twitter research); and third, because the person noted a [...]

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Hello Zoho, Goodbye Bill

by Nick Jankowski 13 October 2009

Since I mentioned Zoho in a document uploaded to the ANGEL site today about the term papers, I thought it suitable to dig the following text from a course blog posted in another blog earlier this year with the same title ‘Hello Zoho, Goodbye Bill’, copied below. To my embarassment, I haven’t gone through the [...]

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