Crisis in Publishing and Peer Review

Adam Rogers has a good article at Wired.com on the use of wikis and web communications to mod peer review. The author is a bit glib comparing the journal Nature to the physics and mathematics "prepublication paper" publication outlet (!?) arXiv (archive), Biology Direct, and PLoS ONE, but he does a pretty good job showing the future of peer review. If academics want to preserve peer-review (a mechanism that ensures professional status AND serves as a check to the corrupting influence of corporatist and government interest), then we should take a serious look at shifting to this version (we actually are doing this at journals like Computers and Composition Online and Kairos, although much of this has to do with using the visual and aural possibilities of the medium, rather than the structural and speed advantages of online communication). Much of the academic "crisis in publishing" has to do with a technological shell game that has now caught up with Libraries (causing inordinate price inflation for journals and books and forcing University Presses to close). While it is imperative for tenured faculty and administrators to recognize online venues as legitimate, it is even more important for us to separate issues of professional accreditation from technological issues. One of the biggest and most easily leveled arguments against peer-review (read: tenure), is the sheer expense of the process. In order for academics to scrupulously defend professional accreditation as a social good, we have to nullify this argument. Putting research online will also allow us to share more of our own work with those who may benefit from our work. So it may help solve the "crisis in publication" and the "crisis in de-professionalization" at the same time. Genius.

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