How Scholars Hack the World of Academic Publishing Now
You can form a cartel. Or you can ignore it all together.
This article gives a fascinating overview of two recent bypasses of the academic publishing system. The first, a group of brand-new Brazilian journals, cross-cited each other in order to gain higher standing in lists of academic journals. (Linking to a site from an external source boosts its ranking in Google and other databases—the more external links, the higher your placement.) This so-called “cartel” was defeated with a new algorithm that discovered the cross-citations, and the new journals are back to where they started—struggling to get their research to readers who may want it.
The second is, I think, more relevant to what we’re trying to do at Black Market. A professor at Stanford and several of his graduate students made a set of rigorous history curricula available to five high schools in San Fran. The improvement in the students’ performance was immediate and clearly shown in the research—not only did their comprehension of the events studied improve, but also their overall reading comprehension in other areas increased as well. The professor’s closing thoughts on the project are telling:
I no longer believe that when I publish articles in journals with minuscule circulations I am contributing to the field—if by “field” we mean the thousands of well-meaning individuals who go to work each day in places called schools.
When a system becomes inaccessible to those who need it the most, it’s time for a reform.