Hat Tip: “Would [open access] be prestigious just because we say it is? I say, why not?”

This hat tip goes to Jessica P. Hekman for her May 10, 2012 post on Scientific American’s Guest Blog, “Moving the Prestige to Open-Access Publishing.” Hekman is preparing to graduate from veterinary school. Before this, she had a twelve year career in online publishing, and got her undergraduate degree in medieval studies from Harvard University.

Hekman is reflecting on the April 17, 2012 memorandum sent by the Harvard Library Faculty Advisory Council (covered by me here), which among other things, encouraged faculty to submit their research articles to open access journals in order to “move prestige to open access.”

Implicit in the memo’s encouragement is the truth that if an academic journal has acquired prestige it is only because it originated with the scholars themselves. Recovering this truth disrupts the status quo and creates an opening for brainstorming alternatives.

In the post Hekman is brainstorming. She puts forward an interesting idea that amounts to the creation of post-publication peer review lists of open access articles, vetted by scholars in prestigious academic departments at prestigious academic institutions. Would this work? Hekman herself points out some of the challenges. But what I loved most was her simple disarming directness when she says:

Would inclusion [of open access articles in this review list] be prestigious just because we say it is? I say, why not? The big name journals are prestigious just because we say they are, and because we make hiring and promotion decisions based on publication in them.

Hey, that’s right! Hey, that’s empowering! Thanks Jessica.

Posted in "The Hat Tip", OA Policies, Open Access, Peer Review, Scholarly Journals
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