A Researcher’s Dilemma

The last issue of IJIRD journal has one of my articles about digital cities: “Are digital cities intelligent? The Portuguese Case”. This issue is edited by the world-known expert on intelligent cities Nicos Komninos and has extremely interesting overall contributions. Therefore, I’m really pleased and grateful to have a paper in this high quality edition. But I’m still feeling my usual uncertainties towards publications in peer-reviewed journals. My dilemma about this particular subject are well-known by my co-workers and friends and I want to share them in the blogosphere, striving perhaps for some catharsis, some redemption….

I surely agree/understand the need/importance of validating your findings/work with the reviews/inputs of the scientific community. However, I – like the majority of researchers – feel the pressure to publish, publish, and publish in order (they say) to make science go forward (and to build a strong curriculum in the same degree). Publish or perish, it is. And I’m not talking about peer-review process or the supposed “blind peer-review” process: even if I’m aware that a lot of journals work hard to accomplish this principle, it’s interesting to notice that the same people are always published, over and over again (sometimes presenting nothing new to the field)…and how you need a strong co-author to publish something, specially if you’re a young researcher/scholar. It seems like an interminable loop.

Well, for now, I’m just talking about disseminating scientific work.

So, I deeply believe that we are only disseminating science in a close and restrict circle which actually prevents major advances in science and society. Really, come on, how many people will buy/read my paper in this journal? Plus, because of contract limitations, I can’t simply make my full paper available on-line; accessible for everyone who’s interested in digital cities and the Portuguese experiences. My conviction of a “free shareable knowledge” is constantly oppressed by the system. And I succumb to the system as well, as I need to make a living of it.

But not everything is grey, the open access journals are definitely a fabulous idea, and the Internet had a crucial role on its development. Nevertheless, for me it’s still a residual problem, as for instance, the foundation that supports my research only gives high points for papers published in close peer-review process journals (with impact factor, of course). And this is completely non-sense, as both should have the same importance. We need to remind them that the majority of open journals are also peer-reviewed. And if they want citations, research of citations of articles in open access journals show that papers in these journals are more cited than non-open access articles. Interesting article here.

Well, a propos, here’s one’s of Geert Lovink’s 2009 resolutions (Geert has this amazing ability…yes, I’m a big fan :-):

“Dismantling the academic exclusion machine. With this I mean the hilarious peer review dramas that we see around us everywhere, aimed to reproduce the old boys networks, excluding different voices, discourses and networked research practices. We need to have the civil courage to say no to these suppressive and utterly wrong bureaucratic procedures that, in the end, result in the elimination of quality, creativity and criticism (and, ironically, of innovation, too). In the same way we need to unleash a social movement of those who dare to say no to all these silly copyright contracts that we’re forced to sign. We should stop signing away our ‘intellectual property’ and begin to radicalize and help democratize and popularize the creative commons and floss movements.”


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