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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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In the short run no. In the long run I will argue that it does. Without an academic journal the field of CI will stagnate. The consultants will not be able to develop their skills according to the needs of the market, and the market will not show the same interest for the problem. CI academic and professionals need to understand that they profit from each other’s contributions.

Klaus
Klaus,

I'm not sure I agree that the field would necessarily stagnate without an academic journal. Innovation in tools, techniques, and interpretation aren't really driven by academic research in this field. Innovation will be there in response to the needs of individuals trying to answer questions. Some of that will be less rigorous than an academic would require, and may lead to a few wrong answers because of short-cuts in scientific basis.

I'm reminded of a probably apocryphal story of Winston Churchill at the end of WWII. He supposedly asked his chief financial advisor to come up with the total cost of the war...lost property, manpower, injuries, medical costs, everything. The advisor said that was an incredible task and would take years to come up with such a number. Churchill said he needed the number in an hour for a meeting with the King. The advisor became indignant and said, "but I just told you it would take years to come up with that number!"

Churchill reportedly replied, "No. You told me it would take you years to refute the number I already came up with!"

I respect the potential value of an academic journal for the profession, but will confess it also seems a little too abstract to me. Sort of like applying gymnastic scoring systems to a rugby match.


Mark
Mark,

I love your story, but I see a major problem in the thoughts that have been presented here over the past few weeks. There is much discussion about training consultants to become better CI professionals, even of introducing some kind of certification system. There need to be someone to teach them. Do you think it is realistic that the profession can prosper if all the teachers are professionals, not academic?

Many contributors complain about the slow development of the CI professions. I wonder to what degree they are actively pursuing their interest to find answers to these questions. CI is a part of a larger group of Intelligence Studies. Just the recent development within Business Intelligence systems (software) are enough to keep researchers constantly occupied with new ideas. Why is it then that one gets the impression here that many consultants are running out of ideas?

If SCIP cannot be convinced of putting their efforts together to form a new scientific journal I think the organization will lose much of its influence in the years to come. The question then become if the other entities, CI interest organizations, are strong enough to form their own journal. That is not a given either, but CI research will continue one way or another, probably then in other related journals, if maybe not under the term “CI”, probably more likely under “market Intelligence” or similar. The difference is that SCIP will not then be a part of it. However, SCIP members like everyone else, will still be able to have access to that knowledge.

From Sweden, Klaus
Klaus,

I'm not opposed to an academic journal. I just don't believe that's the only path forward. Sheila Wright explained all the hurdles previously faced by a CI Journal, along with the fact that such a journal would not be granted much acceptance until it had crossed the 5-year threshold. While it is possible such a journal could cover several disciplines so as to compensate for the relatively thin number of writers, peer reviewers, editors, and editorial staff, it is unlikely that all these hurdles will be solved in the short run...if ever.

Does that mean we are doomed to stagnation as a discipline? I do not believe so. Porter's still amazing work was done without a CI-specific journal. Likewise with most of the models and tools we currently use. While the old CI Review had some good articles, I don't recall any that really stretched the envelope of CI practice. I recall the Herring article on use of KITS...but this was merely documenting an existing practice from the national intelligence community rather than opening new ground entirely.

I think scientific approach would be a great help. But I don't believe it's the only way the discipline will move forward. We will move forward by cannibalizing existing academic work. Game theoretic competition models feed game theory approaches to strategy evaluation. Finance work on Z-Score validity give us guidance when we evaluate a competitive financial profile for strategic options. Mathematical network analysis can give us tools for analyzing social network analysis and Web 2.0 implications. Military strategy options can be adapted for war gaming.

Or we can innovate with our creative use of "in the trenches" competitive warfare.

I'm mostly taking issue with the observation that "Without an academic journal the field of CI will stagnate."

Frankly, I think the largest obstacle faced by CI as a profession isn't in the techniques we use, the academic underpinning of our evaluations, or the strategic understanding of the markets. Our largest obstacle has little to do with an academic journal, but in the tendency of the executive suite to make decisions that do not rely on CI at all.

A recent McKinsey survey found that executives faced with competitor innovation (price or product), reacted slowly or not at all, typically reacted with the "most obvious" reaction, and typically did not rely on any kind of deeper analysis...but just their "gut reaction". It also found that they would be most likely to do it that way again the next time the situation arose.

So...if chief clients aren't listening, and do not plan to START listening...how will we change their mind by starting an academic journal? The journal isn't a bad idea...it just isn't the most pressing problem.

Mark
August - I think the question you are really asking is "Why should SCIP sponsor an academic journal?"

This discussion covers more than just the activities of SCIP or its successor, and the question was posed to the entire CI community, not just practitioners and vendors.

What I'm hearing is that a journal does not have value to some ( many?) non-academics, and this should taken into consideration when planning the economics of a publication - online or hard copy.
Certainly any cost/benefit analysis is a subjective exercise based on who is paying, yes. I am asking the question in general, but yes part of my question is also "Should SCIP sponsor an academic journal?" Also if the answer is "yes" then why is that the case and how will value be extracted from and delivered to each set of stakeholders.
August, I suggest you re-read the final paragraph of my earlier posting. In my view, SCIP has proved, twice now, that it is not capable of successfully supporting an academic Journal. Twice, it has pulled the rug on good publications, CIR and JCIM, both of which were invaluable to their readers and, I might add, a key reason for many to join SCIP. I would point out too that in both those Journals there were a pleasing percentage of contributions from authors outside academia. They were never directed at “just one set of stakeholders” but if the anti-intellectuals (as you describe yourself) decide not to partake, then there is not much anybody can do about it. That in itself though, says more about the individual concerned, than the wider community. Maybe if more practitioners read more widely then we would get away from the idea that Porter’s Five Forces (published nearly 30 years ago) is the best thing since sliced bread, and that SWOT and PEST is all you need to know about to do CI.

It is interesting that you suggest that the benefit of an academic Journal is exclusive to one set of stakeholders. Isn’t that the case with any publication and isn’t that just the identification of a target market? I will ask you the same question that was asked of the SCIP Board who decided to kill off JCIM. Have you ever read any of the articles? Tell me what it is that you think has no value. The silence was deafening. I will also ask you on what basis you are forming your view? Where is your evidence? It is precisely the publication of material in refereed Journals that subsequently finds it way into teaching and practice so why would you not want to see one thrive? What about the much heralded SCIP Body of Knowledge project? Where do you think that material has come from? Blogs, tweets and newspapers? I don’t think so. I’m not surprised you don’t “get” the idea of an academic Journal. You are not the primary target market. Likewise I don’t know what is important to the vendor community and as such I don’t offer an opinion.

Mark says that I explained all the hurdles previously faced by a CI Journal. Yes I did, but all of those problems arose purely because SCIP was the publisher. In order to do this job properly you need an academic publisher and they publish thousands of titles monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly in scores of different languages. They understand what is needed and they put the resources behind it. I suggest we leave SCIP to get on with selling whatever it is they decide is their product range. I don’t see the intellectual advancement of CI on their high priority list.

In terms of getting material, it needs to be remembered that there are a good number of CI practitioners, consultants, vendors and academics who will have nothing whatsoever to do with SCIP or any of its products. You can work out for yourself what their reasons might be, but an independently published Journal would be healthy for the community.

I gain my knowledge from many sources, some of which are more serious than others, take more time to read and contain considered, thoughtful, informative insight, written by people whose expertise I can recognise and respect. Other sources might be a lighter read, take less time and give a quick overview. That is not to say that one is "better" than the other, they have different audiences and a different purpose. In other words, if I want to find out the stability or otherwise of a country’s currency, I consult the Financial Times not the tabloids with topless models on the front page.

Sheila
I am a French researcher (sorry if my English is not that good), new member of this web community. I fully agree with Sheila.

Here is the situation in France : we have 2 or 3 dozens of CI researchers here, maybe more.
Since about one year, our government has created a new national research evaluation agency called AERES. The evaluation system is entirely based on a journal list, with 4 levels (A+/A/B/C). A researcher has to publish articles in journals from that list (http://www.aeres-evaluation.fr/Economie-Gestion) if he wants to be considered as "publishing". In management sciences (marketing, finance...), 2 articles are required each 4 years. Books (even research handbooks), chapters, proceedings.... count for nothing. Articles in peer-reviewed journals which are not "classified" count for nothing. Of course there is not one single CI journal in that list (even not a French one). Even not JCIM (I guess that people who have made the list had never heard about it).

The lack of a good CI journal is a real danger for the CI research community. Of course, we can submit our papers to other journals, but it is more difficult to have an article accepted than in a specialized journal. Because reviewers are not CI specialists, it will be more difficult for them to see if the contribution to the field of CI is worth it, but they will be very hard to convince about the impact on their own field (marketing or HR or SMB, etc.), which might not be the main point of a CI paper.

Some of us, in France or not, are wondering if it is still worth going on working on CI. It is very risky for our careers (a selfish problem). But it is a danger for Teaching CI too. Research feeds teaching, in terms of "contents" and of "teachers". It is also a danger for companies : who will teach future managers CI techniques and principles ? ethics ?

When I teach CI, I don't sell anything, I help my students to make their own idea about CI. If they want, later, to settle a CI department or to hire a CI practitioner, they will have enough knowledge to make a good decision. But what can I tell them if I don't have independent studies to feed my own knowledge ? Will I still try to build knowledge about CI if my own work is not recognized ?

I won't even talk about the problem of publishing CI articles when English is not your native language... After having read your posts, I realize that English is not the main problem !

What I don't understand is why CI research community is not able to reach a critical mass. I often compare CI and Entrepreneurship : both of them are multi-disciplinary fields, both of them are useful to the competitiveness of industries... But entrepreneurship has succeeded in becoming a legitimate "publishing" field, whereas CI seems stuck...

What do you think ?

Sophie
Thanks Sophie - excellent points!

I especially like your comparison with entrepreneurship as well, which I've heard somewhere posited before but can't recall where. Much of the success of the entrepreneurship meme is in its "packaging" of course - it's a much more straightforward idea than CI and therefore easier for students, teachers, politicians, business leaders, bureaucrats, etc. to get their head around as a critical driver in the success of a country, company or community.

As a non-academic myself, I can still see that there's no doubt entrepreneurship as a scientific idea has changed a lot over the past 20 years and that has a lot to do with its acceptance as the fuel behind societal growth through responsible capitalism and progress in the wake of the meltdown of the Marxist worldview. But a good deal of its success is also formulaic to its popular presentation and something CI can learn a great deal from. Entrepreneurship has become a "sticky" idea and now has become a part of our collective global culture.

For further reference on such sticky ideas, check out the best business book of 2007, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath - here's a list of the primary principles:

http://www.madetostick.com/excerpts

It's a bit long, but I promise it's worth the read. The real question for us here is, can we transform CI into a sticky idea? If not, what alternative meme presents itself for our consideration? And then of course, how can we do it?

I am an ardent believer that enthusiasm among the academy is critical to the long-term success of the idea of CI as a whole - indeed, that's part of the reason for this community: to discuss the way forward if we are to accept that the idea itself has enough momentum to be rehabilitated (which I believe it does and needs).

We're all above-the-mean-smart-people here right? Can we crack this most urgent problem?
Sheila, as a complete aside from the discussion, is there a list of "greatest hits" of academic journal articles on CI that you would recommend practitioners and vendors read? You've also mentioned several times in the past that you believe standard basic analytical frameworks are outmoded. What are the specific new frameworks and methods you believe are better, and to what sources should we look for more information about them?

Cheers.
Responding to the various issues which have been raised and questions posed, I'll try to respond.

1) Please don’t assume all Universities are the same, or that they teach the same. There are huge differences in style, purpose and method within and across countries. In the UK the University system has evolved and we now have several “types”, offering different teaching styles and different student experiences both within, and between, categories. They are generally termed as Ancient, Old, Red Brick and Smoked Glass. There are differing types of Universities in North America, Europe and Oceania too. I don’t have any knowledge of the Middle East or Africa but would not be surprised if it were similar.

2) HBR is published by Harvard University and, by and large, one is invited to submit an article. Now if you want an example of an elite publication this is it, but not for the reasons you might think. Whilst I doubt many would turn down an invitation, the reality is that is highly unlikely that one would be issued, unless you were already spectacularly well known or were already on the staff of Harvard or a similarly placed world class University. Nice idea of an HBR for CI, but who’s going to pay to print it and how do you think the reputation will magically appear?

3) On the question of the use of analytical tools then I recommend the Fleisher & Bensoussan books and if you want a more applied look, then Robert Grant’s Contemporary Strategy Analysis book would be suitable although for what is considered to be an advanced text, even he goes over the same old ground ad nauseam.

4) Regarding articles suitable for CI practitioners to read, then I would refer you to the 4 part Bibliography of CI Scholarship published by JCIM. It should still be available through SCIP. In common with other academics, I select readings for my students around the syllabus that I am teaching. We discuss these, critique the methods used and debate the findings. For that expertise, my knowledge of the literature and my intellectual interpretation of these articles, they pay a substantial course fee. It is my job to know this and although enjoyable, it is still time consuming. Some lecturers simply do not bother, they feel that CI Magazine is all they need. That is fine but my students go out of my classes with a deep understanding of CI, its potential, and also the operational challenges. Along with my 20 years experience of actually doing this job for real, it is the way that I teach the subject. I am not about to hand that over to free. It is a hard won pool of evolving knowledge which comes with a price tag, just as it does with other experts and the better informed consultants. As I understand it, the SCIP BoK project may be doing something along the lines that you are asking for, but until that is launched, I can’t be sure.

5) I don’t recall anybody rejecting the notion of an on-line Journal. That is what JCIM was and is the way that a great majority of publications are going, with FREE access too. Far from rejecting on-line, it is likely the only way that a Journal would, or could, be launched in today’s digital age. That is not to say that the preparation costs diminish. The only things you save are printing and postage costs, less the cost of web site maintenance and authorisation processes if they are deemed appropriate. As I said before, an experience publisher has all these systems in place, they just add a new title to their listing.

6) It is suggested that an academic Journal is there only for self-serving purposes. That is about as sensible as saying that the only reason consultants work from home is so that they can claim their household utility cots against the business. It is a fact of life that research and publishing is a key role of a Professor and for that you need, not only peer reviewed Journals, but other events such as refereed Conferences with full published proceedings. If you don’t engage with that, then you don’t enter the profession or you declare yourself as a teacher or an administrator, or both. It is almost always the deciding factor in securing a job, as is the attainment of a PhD, and even then you have to continue to publish and produce peer-reviewed output throughout your career. It is called Continuing Professional Development and it is just that. It is about being able to prove your worth, be relevant and insightful in the classroom or when taking Workshops, being able to bring fresh ideas to the field and demonstrating how they can be used by practitioners. That’s why students pay course fees to join our degree programmes, why workshop delegates pay to attend your session, why the places fill up quickly and why organisations hire us to train their CI units. Our expertise, just like anybody else in the knowledge economy, is available provided you are willing to pay the price. Academics who either choose not to publish, or can’t get published, will not get promoted - simple as that. So, far from being self-serving, it is vital part of the infrastructure of academic life for most, and dare I say it, the source of much of the knowledge and teaching which flows through the community.

I’ll close by saying that before I went into academia I thought that Professors were all ivory tower, distant folks who never got their hands dirty. How wrong was I? In truth, most researchers in an applied field such as ours, have gained knowledge of many sectors and types of firms through the work their PhD and Masters students are undertaking, through their own research projects and also through collaborations with researchers in different countries and economies. It makes them better and more realistic teachers. I thought the only way to learn was to “do”. I still believe that that is a good philosophy but I made a far better job of “doing” once I had learned from my University Professors how to “do” it properly.

Sheila
An academic journal is only one part of the map. If we want CI to be taught academically (do we?) and to figure in the management, organizational psychology, international business and other types of (etc etc) discourse, as well as moving beyond anecdotal and purely practitioner-based literature, whether this is reflected in articles or books, then there has to be some activity at the "high end" which will "pull" other activities in its wake. Likewise, without those other activities, there can be no case for conducting research, reflective thought, or innovation. And yes, CI needs innovative thought too, otherwise it will wither.

Without such a spectrum of such activities, of which a journal is only one part (conferences like ECIS are another critical comoponent!), we will end up with a CI society that sees no further than offering the same old CI-101 courses time after time after time, and consultant-based workshops - designed to promote the commercial agendas of whoever is giving them.

It seems to me that's where we are right now - and (for me at least) that's why SCIP no longer holds any appeal whatsoever (and why the FSI move does nothing to solve that situation - instead it simply aggravates it). SCIP has become "more of the same". Disruption, new ideas, breaking down interdisciplinary barriers and bringing in new ideas are what's needed, and an academic journal, or at least academic papers and presentations, even without a dedicated journal, are an essential component if these aims are to be achieved.

Practitioners will benefit too because they too need to innovate, and where are the new ideas going to come from if not, at least in part, from academic types of activity?

regards

Michael

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