Home » Blog

2560 x 1440 (except while traveling)

4 January 2018 2 Comments

It’s not my joke but it still works. And given my pretty much complete failure to achieve even written resolutions it’s probably better to joke up front. But…here are a set of things I really need to write this year. Maybe more for my benefit than anyone else but it’s good to have a record.

Blog Posts: I have a few things that either need finishing or need writing, these are relatively immediate

  1. Against the 2.5% Commitment – argument that fixed top-slicing of scholarly communications budgets is not the right way to think about funding infrastructure and support services. Rather we need some market-like social incentives that are internal to organisations. My proposal is a shift to thinking about budgets as investments, including the extent to which they recirculate value or money to the scholarly community.
  2. The local context of peer review – I owe Hilda Bastian a more detailed response as to why, while I agree with her analysis of where the problems lie and what the optimal state is, that the studies we have of peer review don’t show what we might think. Part of the reason for trying this is that I need to make this argument in the broader context for a book (below)
  3. Some hard truths on APCs, exclusion and charity – There is a received wisdom circulating that APCs are the source of all problems with exclusion. I think, while APCs have their problems that this is looking in the wrong place, in fact that APCs may surface issues of exclusion in a way that could be ultimately positive. The real risk of exclusion lies in work-flows and no-one seems to be focussed on the interaction of structural power in publishers and submission systems and the risks they pose.
  4. Sketching a theory of knowledge – first step in working out the article (4 below) to get some ideas out and down

Articles: Things that really need writing, mostly have been sitting for a while

  1. Institutions for productive conflict in knowledge-making – working on this at the moment. It’s not really feasible to describe the argument in a few sentences, which means I haven’t got it fully refined yet! It’s a much evolved version of parts of the argument from this paper from ElPub last year.
  2. The structure of scientific evolutions – we have a theory of everything (in knowledge communications and production). It’s quite exciting, and quite simple in outline, complex in its implications. A draft of this exists but it may be a small book rather than an article. I desperately need to do the background reading to properly support the arguments.
  3. A clash of peer review cultures – a kind of auto-ethnography of the experience of the peer review process for the Excellence paper. There were many weird moments when an attitude amongst the researchers involved (including editors and referees) in favour of open review clashed with the journal’s assumptions of double-blind review. Mainly blocked because I don’t know diddly squat about doing ethnography properly and need to talk to someone who does…
  4. Repertoires, learning and social theories of knowledge – I’ve been using and developing an implicit social theory of knowledge that is really just a mix of notions of community from a wide range of different places. It needs to be properly fleshed out, ideally with someone who knows what they’re talking about. This is likely more review/synthesis than new ideas per se, but as far as I can tell that synthesis doesn’t exist across the silos I’ve been looking at.


  1. The core piece of work I need to do on the book I should be focused on. It is code-named Telling Stories with the subtitle A personal journey from the sciences to the humanities (and back). The first (very rough!) drafts of the introduction and first chapter I posted as Telling a Story and Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Man.
  2. Possibly pull together a series of texts into a thing on Networked Knowledge. I put together a “book” based on old posts and reflections a few years back. That doesn’t in and of itself merit formal publication (that’s the view of the referees incidentally) but, particularly with the resurgence of interest in “federate all the things”, there are a series of texts that could be pulled together in a kind of manifesto of the technological possibilities.
  3. Political Economics of Scholarly Publishing – I’ve been occasionally adding to this list of posts, and this new paper is relevant, but that work needs drawing together in some form. Might be worth seeking a grant to cover the time to finish it off properly perhaps…

That looks like a long list…


  • Emanuil Tolev said:

    Well, I’m looking forward to reading pretty much all of these. I’ll send any ethnographers I stumble upon your way :).

    What angle(s) are you interested in when it comes to the interactions between the structural power of publishers and submission systems?
    More specifically (just trying to understand it), is that about assumptions that big rich companies make when designing submission systems and the workflows those systems (implicitly) impose on scholars who use them?

  • Cameron Neylon said:

    I’ll have to write the post but the core of it is this: if you follow the thread from this post ( http://cameronneylon.net/blog/pushing-costs-upstream-and-risks-downstream-making-a-journal-publisher-profitable/) to this one from Roger Schonfeld ( https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/01/02/workflow-lock-taxonomy/) then a very profitable route (particularly for subscription publishers but not exclusively) is to red-flag papers from particular places and people to save money. And all of this can be done silently. At least one publisher used to simply block reject very paper that came from Iran for instance, but you can imagine a prestige journal just dumping anything from unknown authors or developing countries and it never becoming visible.