Are the problems with scholarly communication a symptom of a deeper problem…

in Scholarly Communication, Tenure and Promotion
October 19th, 2010

For all the hype we give Open Access Week, (and yes, at Boston University we work hard to provide activities and events to engage students, staff and faculty) progress toward making open access the default or even dominant model for scholarly communication often seems slow. Dorothea Salo’s “Innkeeper at the Roach Motel” drew much attention when she strongly asserted that ‘the “build it and they will come” proposition has been decisively proven wrong.’ Salo and others are right that the barrier is not technological. Steven J. Bell’s recent essay, “Why I’m Not in the Mood to Celebrate Open Access Week,” points to issues embedded in academic culture that prove to be significant barriers to success for the open access movement. It’s worth a read.

I know there are some interesting new ideas about open access floating around out there, and Barbara mentions some of them here. Dorothea Salo shares some as well in an informative podcast interview with Roy Tennant. For much of the conversation Salo expresses her frustration with our lack of progress in creating change. Some things are beyond our control, but in other ways we can do better. For example, she says that we are at fault for poor communication that fails to make faculty aware of “the very real inequities and difficulties that their own behaviors cause.” Well, when I try do that I hit the brick wall of having faculty point at the current system, and acknowledging that it may be broken but they don’t want to be the ones to change it because it will potentially cost them their chance at tenure, a thousand dollar merit increase or a promotion to a more prestigious university. The Tennant-Salo interview ends on a more hopeful note with Salo seeing some signs that higher education (faculty bloggers, the occasional essay in IHE or the Chronicle) is starting to question the current system. I am feeling less optimistic.read more

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