Because open is better

We recently formalized the promotion and tenure requirements for the department. We needed to wrangle things a bit, because half our department does creative stuff rather than traditional journal papers, and–as you may know–this is always a university sticking point. It makes it easier when your colleagues win Emmys because even folks outside the discipline recognize this as external validation, but otherwise it’s hard to say “18 minutes of film is roughly equivalent to a journal article,” which is the kind of thing folks like to see these days. Quantification gone amuck.

Anyway, there is a set of “this is better than that” sorts of lines in our document (“solo is better than co-authorship,” “first is better than fifteenth author,” etc.), and I was really happy to see that this one made the cut:

“Works that are openly available and freely accessible to all readers are valued more highly than those which require payment or a subscription.”

When this came up in the School faculty meeting, one colleague said “but that means you can’t publish in journals!” and “what about peer review?” I reminded her that some of the best journals (though perhaps not the most prestigious, yet!) are open access. Off the top of my head, I mentioned JCMC and The International Journal of Communication. But it would be really nice to roll off a bunch of journal names. I really enjoy FirstMonday, and they publish some great stuff, but not everything rises to the level you would expect in a top journal. There are lots of other examples of good open access journals in our area, but they tend to be regionally focused, or still haven’t gotten up to the level of citation that the paid journals do. It would be helpful to be able to lay out “the top 3 OA journals” in communication, in the same way that people can generally agree on the top three or four top communication journals overall (maybe).

In the end, it wasn’t a hard sell. The mission of our School includes increasing access to knowledge, so this was very much in keeping with our mission.

In any case, one of the reasons cited for the slow bootstrapping of open access journals is that tenure-track faculty fear that their contributions need to show up in the top journals–which are generally subscription based–in order to “count.” That’s no longer the case in our department, and I hope we can be an example for some of the R1s out there, and they will explicitly endorse open access publishing in their own P&T requirements.

Update (8/31): Someone was kind enough to send me a link to IAMCR’s list of open journals. That’s a very helpful list.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 8/28/2008 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    It would be helpful to be able to lay out “the top 3 OA journals” in communication, in the same way that people can generally agree on the top three or four top communication journals overall (maybe).

    In my first few years, I tried to get a sense for what were the top 3-4 comm journals so I could target them, but I couldn’t get a consensus from talking to a bunch of senior people.

  2. alex
    Posted 8/28/2008 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, and it differs from place to place. But you still get the idea that, for example, JoC, Com Theory, Comm Rsrch, POQ, J&MCQ, CSMC, Comm Monographs, and maybe the European JoC seem to show up on a lot of people’s short lists…

    Hard to say the same for OA journals because there just aren’t that many of them.

    Oh, I guess I should add Javnost to that list, but that gets me to 3.

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