(It is expected to make a workshop during the month of January)
Scientific communication in local and/or professional communities – values and evaluations
This special issue aims to foster reflection on the challenges in scientific communication in thematic, geographical, social or linguistic spaces that are perceived as peripheral or marginal. Specifically, we invited contributions that explore how ongoing transformations towards open science and the re(appraisal) of societal contributions may affect scientific communication in these local and professional spheres.
Theme of the special issue
We are witnessing the birth of a new paradigm in scientific communication, brought about by factors such as the impact of ICTs, the information explosion and open science, on the one hand, and by growing demands for research to be socially responsible and to communicate with professional spheres in order to contribute to well-being, on the other hand. In other words, the birth of a new system of scientific communication runs parallel to the emergence of a new system for the appraisal and assessment of research.
For the last two decades, concepts such as “excellence” and “international visibility” have dominated the selection criteria in research publishing and management (Vessuri et al., 2014). The prevailing idea has been that both science and scientific journals are organized (like sports competitions) in ascending strata from less to more quality, in which the most international journals publish the most important studies.
However, in recent years, this universalist perspective, which associates international visibility with quality, has come under growing criticism. First of all, because it is an elitist vision that favours disciplinary research and may discriminate against studies that are important from the viewpoint of socially responsible research (Stilgoe, 2014; Bianco & Sutz, 2014). Second, because it favours the topic of interest in the dominant countries and marginalises research in non-Anglo Saxon subjects and languages (Piñeiro & Hicks, 2015; Vessuri et al., 2014).
This special issue aims to include articles that reflect on how, in an open science context, local scientific communities develop journals or other communication tools to address topics with a low coverage in the main international journals. Contributors are invited to explore how these journals are rated in the assessment systems – and their possible effects in downplaying research with a local and social focus (see principles 2 and 3 of the Leiden Manifesto; Hicks et al., 2015).
We are particularly interested in exploring the aspects of scientific communication that target professionals, that is, technologists, communicators, librarians and documentalists. These professionals are also knowledge users and generators, but from the viewpoint of the specific and contextual use of knowledge (Chavarro et al., 2016). This means that the research that practitioners find most useful is rarely the most visible internationally.
Finally, we also aim to discuss how systemic transformations in research data (such as Figshare), bibliographical search engines (such as Google Scholar), the proliferation of alternative scientific and technological indicators (such as ImpactStory), and the concentration of renowned journals in the hands of large publishers (Larivière et al., 2015) may influence the role of scientific communication in local communities.
Bianco, M., & Sutz, J. (2014). Veinte años de políticas de investigación en la Universidad de la República: aciertos, dudas y aprendizajes. Ediciones Trilce, Montevideo.
Chavarro, D. A., Tang, P., & Rafols, I. (2016). Why researchers publish in non-mainstream journals: Training, knowledge bridging, and gap filling. SPRU Working Paper Series 2016-22.
Hicks, D., Wouters, P., Waltman, L., De Rijcke, S., & Rafols, I. (2015). The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics. Nature, 520(7548), 429.
Larivière, V.; Haustein, S.; Mongeon, P. (2015). The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. PLoS ONE, June 10, 2015.
Piñeiro, C. L., & Hicks, D. (2015). Reception of Spanish sociology by domestic and foreign audiences differs and has consequences for evaluation. Research Evaluation, 24(1), 78-89.
Stilgoe, J. (2014) Against excellence. The Guardian blog on science. 19 December 2014.
Vessuri, H., Guédon, J. C., & Cetto, A. M. (2014). Excellence or quality? Impact of the current competition regime on science and scientific publishing in Latin America and its implications for development. Current Sociology, 62(5), 647-665.