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Interest in starting an online-only academic CI journal?

I'd like to open a discussion on the possibility of (re)starting and academic, peer-reviewed CI journal using an online-only format. This could be done with or without SCIP's involvement, and could be a way of providing a journal with minimum financial expense. There are many open source publishing systems set up to do this.

The biggest challenge would be finding (and compensating) an editorial staff. Perhaps the academic members of the CI community could absorb it into their work responsibilities, soliciting volunteer editors and reviewers from other CI practioners. I don't know what the requirements are for a journal article to be considered "published" for purposes of faculty tenure review and promotion. Perhaps it could follow the requirements of the previous SCIP journals.

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I'm reading with interest Don Tapscott's (author of Wikinomics) article on the demise of the university and the outdatedness of academic pedagogy in a digital age. As good CI folks, are we looking sufficiently forward in our assessment of the mechanisms that will move our practice forward?

Universities are finally losing their monopoly on higher learning, as the web inexorably becomes the dominant infrastructure for knowledge sweeney both as a container and as a global platform for knowledge exchange between people.

Meanwhile on campus, there is fundamental challenge to the foundational modus operandi of the University — the model of pedagogy. Specifically, there is a widening gap between the model of learning offered by many big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital best learn.

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It's a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education, not a broadcast one that might have been perfectly fine for the Industrial Age, or even for boomers. These students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities try to ignore them, they will do so at their peril.


I come back to the original question of an online-only journal, which seems to have been rejected in the favor of a more traditional model by our academic colleagues (or have I prematurely jumped to that conclusion?). If indeed some academic publication is of value to our profession (the arguments seem entirely and only occasionally admittedly self-interested and still sold to the broader community on a vague faith of an eventual payoff for non-academics) would it not serve us better to be as forward-looking as we're supposed to be and evaluate what's next to move a professional practice and learning forward?
The changes being wrought in higher education notwithstanding, we should differentiate between the oft-divergent academic goals of teaching and research.

One January day in 2006, I had the pleasure of spending a morning interviewing Clay Christensen in his office at Harvard to prep him for his keynote at SCIP Orlando that year and, when asked about an industry he believed was ripe for disruption, he sort of looked at the ceiling and (paraphrased) replied, "this one; the American university system has overshot the mainstream market and places like Harvard continue to move upmarket while value moves into a nonconsuming, new market context". Clay went on to publish these ideas a year ago in his breakthrough critique, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.

But it wasn't teaching that drove his ideas forward - it was the research that made his insight valid. This is the point of a journal and perhaps we need a Harvard Business Review style journal for CI as well?
This begs many questions about university education itself. For example, in the United States private school tuition has increase 2.5 times since 1978 - from $10,000 a year to $25,000 a year in inflation-adjusted dollars. Plus, the world's employers are seeing more and more young employees absolutely saddled with debt, and their salaries need to match accordingly. Many people in the talent acquisition field are beginning to see the end of the university bubble.

If the bubble breaks, will academic publishing still be allowed to insist on the high overhead that comes with the also-moribund traditional publishing industry? Perhaps not.

Maybe the real question is how we create a regular stream of insight (i.e. peer-reviewed work) that is cite-able, without necessarily signing on to the strictures of university overhead. To me, it's like the future of the conference industry: I'm not sure how much longer people are going to pay major hotel chains for their $5 cookies and $300 urns of coffee just to hang out with their colleagues and talk.

I love the idea of an elite journal filled with the best insight. Tying it to massive overhead doesn't make as much sense to me - not any longer, anyhow.

Curiously, how many truly serious CI academics are publishing in the world right now? Who would the peer-review committee be, just curiously?
Eric,

I am pleased you love the idea of an elite Journal filled with the best insight. You should have supported JCIM when it was around, it was getting there. Where is this massive academic overhead that you seem to think is attached to an academic Journal anyway? What is it in $ terms? Just so that we all understand this - you don't get paid ANYTHING for publishing in an academic Journal. Remember also that you have to sign over the copyright of your work in return for allowing the publisher to sell reprints and make money from your article. That is the price you pay for getting accepted in a peer reviewed Journal. The publisher can also then do whatever it wants with your work because they own the copyright.

You get permission to produce a small numebr of reprints for teaching but that's all. Peer reviewed Journal articles are the only badge of quality that matters in academia. You may not like it but that is the way it is. Book authors get royalites but if you think that text books sell anywhere near enough to make a mint then you are seriously mistaken. It can take years to pay back an advance, if you're lucky enough, and already suffciently well known to get one that is. You write a text book for your own satisfaction or because you see a gap in the market or for career purposes. The approval process is long, drawn out and tedious. You most certainly do not do it for money or to feather your retirement nest, unless you are Michael Porter and his ilk, who could get anybody to publish a book on his grocery shopping and still make a profit.

If you want to know who is publishing in CI then I suggest you look at the 4 part bibliography published in JCIM which goes up to 2006. Not sure how you will obtain it now that JCIM has disappeared from the SCIP site.

The listings for 2007 and 2008 are currently being prepared. We don't have to do this, we get nothing out of it professionally or career wise, not even an article, but we do it in the interests of furthering our own awareness of what is out there and we share it with you all. That's what being an active academic is all about.

All those in the Scholarly Articles section are what you term serious academics. A fair few are represented in the other sections, especially those who try to keep a foot in both camps. i think you might be surprised at the number of authors cited and the work they are doing. Look also at the number of PhD theses and Masters dissertation on CI there are. We have updated listings now for many prior years and when these have been checked they too will be added to the updated versions.

Do as we do and carrry out some bibliometric analysis. Craig Fleisher and I produced our own analysis of Journal titles that publish CI related work and that guides us on where we might target material. The resource s there for everybody to use. Try it.

I am not quite sure why it has become "open season" on academics and Universities on here either. We all seem to have done rather well with our University education and I am sure demonstrated what we learned there. Do you think that the doors would have opened quite as wide at the major firms if we had not. Nearly all those who famously "dropped out" or "never dropped in" started their own firms - Gates, Jobs, Sugar, Branson etc. They were going to suceed anyway, are in the minority and all of them had family money to play with. It is us lesser mortals that benefit most from the University system, not the "always going to make it" crew.

Sheila
Sheila,

Please understand a stark difference between any structural criticism I might have toward universities as institutions and with academics as people. Also, please understand my inherent American biases, which may not carry globally.

Most academics are, in my experience, entrepreneurs required to produce a profitable service. They must generate notoriety for their institution (publish or perish) while teaching enough to keep young people in the seats. They usually aren't that much different from small business people, and they will remain the building blocks of whatever comes next.

Universities, on the other hand, are often hulking conflagrations of brick and mortar and salaried overhead, full of administrative staff and hockey teams, dormitories and security forces that require cash and lots of it. I'm not convinced that THEY are going to be invited to the next party, in that I don't think the football club needs to be tied to research on intelligence.

The only other sort of high-drag overhead I keep hearing about is the notion that it takes five years of printing to get "cite-ability." Obviously, that's like any business - after you've been around a while, people take you more seriously. But it also strikes me as a bit of the old media model, where giant office buildings and monstrous overhead (network TV, New York Times, etc) confers more reliability on the information transmitted. These days, authorities don't seem to have the market cornered on useful info.

So, what's more useful, a quarterly journal that fits the old model, or something online that may post whenever great research gets done? And will the new thing serve academics looking to cite each other and be cited?

That's the only disruption I'm aiming at, not throwing professors and their Latin and Greek texts in the lake.
Eric - you're right of course that a good number of Universities are typically large buildings with support staff, who I might add are usually not well rewarded for their tireless efforts. They are the unsung heroes of the education system. We could not manage to do our job without them, no more than the legal system could operate without paralegals, court staff, witness support and police officers.

It might be different in North America and Continental Europe but in the UK, apart from one or two Universities which are rich enough to pay more, academics and just about everybody in the University system from the cleaners upwards, is paid in line with nationally negotiated pay scales. There is no secret as to what those scales are, they are public knowledge. They are also between 50-65% of US academic salaries too. The only rises we get are annual cost of living increases which for this year may mean 1% if we are lucky. You certainly don't go into education to get rich. I am not sure that overheads in our sector are any greater than anywhere else. In fact I would suggest a lot less. In our Business School we have nearly 200 staff who deliver to students and train staff in local businesses. The only people who have admin support are the Dean (who as you would expect has a PA), and the five Heads of Department who share three secretarial staff. In terms of student satisfaction, my Business School has just been placed 7th in the UK out of 110 institutions. We are not doing too badly in their eyes which arguably, are the only ones which really matter.

As for longevity of a Journal title in order to get creditability, I am sure we would all love it to be the case that all you had to do was to write something and get it printed anywhere at all, and you would be seen as producing quality work but that is not the case. Like it or not, peer review is a quality indicator and authors will target their work increasingly towards the better quality titles, frequently those with a long history of having produced quality work in the past. This might sound like a self fulfilling prophesy but it is unlikely to change until, and unless, the funding authorities change their rules on how they support research in the HE sector. If anything, with the proliferation of new titles and the ease with which on-line Journals can now be launched, credibility is likely to be an increasingly contentious issue rather than less.

What saddens me and others who cared about JCIM was that it was on the cusp of getting over that longevity hurdle. With the exception of one or two people who sought expert opinion and realised this was a mistake, no consultation was ever entered into. The result - JCIM was gone, dead and buried, in a heartbeat.

Oh, and if you find a Professor who teaches from Latin and Greek texts, do please tell me because I’ve never met one.
Sheila (et al, particularly our colleagues in academia) - how familiar are you all with the Open Access movement? Casual Googling yields a lot of material on the subject and I see there are channels for this method of getting peer reviewed journal publication, sometimes with benefits such as accelerating the velocity of the reviewing process itself.

- Arik

P.S. - I noticed there is some smear-mongering among the traditional publishers who are, presumably, being disrupted by the OA business model, but found the following quote interesting as a response from an academic:

"It is strange that in the age of information technology-induced globalization that has democratized the processes of useful information for the business community that often helps in the exploitation of less developed regions of the world, some people are busy questioning the authenticity of open access journals. The attacks on open-access journals should remind one of Kuhnian anomaly in the history of sciences literature--celebration orthodoxy without fair hearing for the subaltern." -- Dr. Kelechi A. Kalu, Professor of African-American & African Studies, The Ohio State University, Ohio
I've been following this discussion for quite some time now.

There are a core of folks who believe that CI is badly hampered without the existence of an Academic CI Journal.

There are a core of folks who may believe that while this is probably true, they may despair of the practicality of finding critical mass to write, review, edit, publish, and promote such a journal.

There also seem to be some who are a bit doubtful of the value or sustainability of the exercise, since for various reasons this type of journal has failed twice before.

The tone of discussions in the CI-Ning community are most like a sober cocktail party where many topics get digested but which is not particularly action oriented.

SCIP has dropped such a journal twice now. Fresh on the heels of near-bankruptcy and a merger, I submit SCIP is unlikely to be the sponsor of such a journal any time soon. The most passionate advocates are those who are already here. While it is possible that additional supporters may come forth, the key players are likely already here discussing the issues.

At what point do interested parties congeal into some sort of organizing committee?
SCIP's statement on the status of JCIM is currently and officially "on hold" pending presumed sponsorship funding by ... well, somebody ... who can finance its resurrection. As I think Craig Fleisher pointed out earlier but which might be less known to most, JCIM is a product of the CIF (SCIP's non-profit foundation), currently presided over by SCIP VP Dr. Eduardo Florez-Bermudez. Simply put, it was shuttered a year ago when SCIP couldn't pay the bills to keep it running.

Now, I'm less interested in the past than I am the future and I'm more familiar with the situation than I care to be, so with all critiques of the way this was handled aside, as a believer in not reinventing the wheel and that the shortest distance between two points tending to be a straight line and all, I would suggest that one route forward would be, simply, to resurrect JCIM.

However, with CIF as the steward of JCIM, is that a reasonable proposal? At this point, would SCIP be better off spinning out CIF itself as a separate entity that can be invested in by a community beyond the membership of SCIP, as I believe, it was originally intended?

If we crush the costs of production for JCIM marginal to zero (in terms of fixed overhead that is, and make all costs variable to actual readership somehow) then could this work? Almost by definition this will require a different container for JCIM to continue than CIF as it is currently overseen by SCIP, so I'd be very interested in how the board and staff at SCIP would see this as an organizational design option post-merger with FSI.

Any thoughts?
Hi Arik: There are numerous ways forward, each of which has myriad advantages and disadvantages. If I wasn't up all night I'd like to take a stab at outlining all of them. For sake of continuity, let me get that ball rolling again by suggesting these would include:

1. Doing nothing. The CI community has made some progress (a lot? not as much as many of us had hoped?) over the last few decades both with and without the academic journal. I know from having done and reviewed numerous surveys at SCIP in the past (going back to the late 80s when I first started doing these wit John Prescott) that a lot of people think the CI Magazine, CI Online or its brethren are "good enough" and can push the field forward. Plus, there are many fine scholarly, research-based efforts that come out at conferences on an annual basis (but how many people actually know of or have read these?), in full-length books (including those done by the CI Foundation -- that was one of the hopes we had for it when I first developed the concept over 5 years ago), and in non CI_focused academic journals (again, how many people read or aware of these -- you can see thousands of them that we have cataloged at my colleague Sheila Wright's CMITRI site at . Again, I ask how many people have bothered to look at what is already out there? This is just a (pretty thorough and expansive) bibliographic list, and most people have never read more than a handful of these pieces. I'm not saying practitioners need to have read some minimum number, but some of these articles form the foundation for understanding CI, its practice, ethics, development, limitations, connection with other fields, and so forth. When SCIP/CIF finally releases its Body of Knowledge project findings, will we ignore that as well?

2. Starting a brand new academic journal - it could be done in traditional print format or all-digitally. Keys in doing this is to gain legitimacy and respectability, provide broad access to author's works, connect CI in with adjoining and complementary fields, and identifying a cohort of individuals willing to sacrifice their resources (particularly time) to assist in all the roles needed for this effort, which include researching, writing and submitting articles, managing reviewers, supervising the review process, coordinating the "go to print/web" process, communicating with the relevant constituencies, and so on. Most journals have dozens of people to fill these roles, and at the best journals number these individuals in the hundreds. Look at the "thank you" pages at the end of the year in a top journal where they thank the 100+ reviewers alone, and this doesn't include all the other people involved in a journal process. I'm not seeing WE need that many, but my point is that the work must be shared amongst some minimum number of people in this (or any other willing) community.

3. Resurrecting the JCIM. A lot has already been written about this so I'll leave those thoughts to hold this space.

4. Devote some partial space in an already existing publication to dedicate to rigorosly developed CI papers. Many journals have gone, or started in this "strategic alliance" manner, until they were able to stand up on their own.

5. Other ideas??

I will re-iterate something I have said all along. I cannot think of any field that has achieved long-standing public acceptance and legitimacy in the absence of having 1) some critical mass of scholarly research performed regularly in and on it, as well as having 2) a similar "critical mass" of activity in the form of courses, degrees, programs, and subjects, etc.in the post-secondary community. CI has never achieved the needed mass in either of these.
Here's a small challenge: for all those who seem to think that any process rooted in organizations can exist, flourish, and attract good people WITHOUT at least, having some related academic activity, I'd be curious to hear about such a sub-area. As far as I can tell, almost EVERY area of organization, management and business has its researchers, publications - papers, bboks, articles, and in some form or another, journals.

I think CI is pretty much alone in NOT being sufficiently written about, researched, published, talked about and so on, and having to "rely" on anecdotal work/stories, and misguided press reports - which all too often focus on those negative perceptions which continue to be associated with CI, and then draw the usual and tedious apologetics and denials, something which SCIP devoted (too) much energy too in the past. No one would ever suggest that one way of procuring a firm's necessary raw materials would be to steal them, yet many in CI are still busy 'explaining' that "CI is NOT industrial espionage".

CI needs to draw on practice, consultants, workshops, magazine and news items, AND academic work and research. The occasional MBA course (currently the most common academic framework in which onr can find CI courses in academia - in some western countries at least) is not and cannot be considered sufficient. The field also needs theses, research, student projects, the building up of a bank of reliable data, and a range of quantitative analytical activities, as well as the more qualitative synthesis of ideas from different disciplines, reflection, a seeking after breaking down interdisciplinarity borders, and a drawing in and cross-fertilization from any area that may be of use.
I'm pleased to see a few more voices in this debate. Just to answer Arik's question. Bobby Brody championed JCIM going Open Access during our tenure as Co-Editors and took charge of getting the myriad of procedures, including handling forms for the Library of Congress so that it could all happen. The proposal was discussed and agreed in a reporting phone call with me, Bobby, Alex Graham and Joe Goldberg (SCIP President at the time) and was minuted as a decision. As an expert in this area, Bobby predicted that this was the way things would go and we had JCIM in there, right at the start.

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