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November 06, 2003

Citation and influence: Copyright and Tenure

In his article "Citation and influence: science versus the blogosphere"  Jon Udell makes a case that Jeremy Hylton also made yesterday after my article about the Elsevier Journals: that online visibility of articles and papers is remarkably limited outside of the CS, Physics and related areas. This in contrast to the findings in the Online or Invisible report by Steve Lawrence that suggests that online articles are more widely referenced.

Outside of the few fields that seem to have accepted online publication as a viable approach to disseminating scholarly information, there are major obstacles. And one of the biggest obstacles is the academic tenure process. Academic success is measured partially by how good an educator you are, but for an important part also about how good and prominent your research results are, and for the majority of the fields this is measured in Journal publications. These journals frequently require you to hand over the copyright of the paper to the publisher, and you are barred from putting copies online for a number of years. Putting the papers online, before you submit them is not possible for many of these fields as the reviewing often takes many, many months, maybe even up to a year, and you do not want your competitors to get away with your ideas...

Until we overhaul the way we measure suitability for tenure in these traditional academic fields and break the stronghold that journals publishers have on the prohibiting the online publication of academic works we are stuck. Computer and Information Science should lead the way here, and although some colleges are making process in this sense, there is still pressure from the other fields in the universities to make sure that comparable techniques have been used in decisions about tenure and promotion.

I am not sure whether weblogs are the ultimate solution, but the main reason for my weblog is that I want to get research results out in the open even before I publish them in a paper, and if I write a paper I want to use the weblog as a medium of getting early feedback before the paper goes into the more traditional reviewing process (see for example the Web Services are Not Distributed Objects paper). The weblog approach also gives you as a scientist, a much more powerful mechanism, namely to write about things that went wrong, or don't work. We learn so much more from mistakes, yet we never write about them in our articles as they are often only used to exhibit our successes not our failures.

Posted by Werner Vogels at November 6, 2003 01:17 PM

Werner Vogels Tablet Experience in ITWeek Article
Weblog: Julia Lerman Blog
Tracked: November 7, 2003 08:00 AM