Virtual academic conferencing: a scoping review of 1984-2021 literature. Novel modalities vs. long standing challenges in scholarly communication

Authors : Agnieszka Olechnicka, Adam Ploszaj, Ewa Zegler-Poleska

This study reviews the literature on virtual academic conferences, which have gained significant attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a scoping review, analyzing 147 documents available up to October 5th, 2021.

We categorized this literature, identified main themes, examined theoretical approaches, evaluated empirical findings, and synthesized the advantages and disadvantages of virtual academic conferences. We find that the existing literature on virtual academic conferences is mainly descriptive and lacks a solid theoretical framework for studying the phenomenon.

Despite the rapid growth of the literature documenting and discussing virtual conferencing induced by the pandemic, the understanding of the phenomenon is limited. We provide recommendations for future research on academic virtual conferences: their impact on research productivity, quality, and collaboration; relations to social, economic, and geopolitical inequalities in science; and their environmental aspects.

We stress the need for further research encompassing the development of a theoretical framework that will guide empirical studies.


Scientific discourse on YouTube: Motivations for citing research in comments

Authors : Sören Striewski, Olga Zagovora, Isabella Peters

YouTube is a valuable source of user-generated content on a wide range of topics, and it encourages user participation through the use of a comment system. Video content is increasingly addressing scientific topics, and there is evidence that both academics and consumers use video descriptions and video comments to refer to academic research and scientific publications.

Because commenting is a discursive behavior, this study will provide insights on why individuals post links to research publications in comments. For this, a qualitative content analysis and iterative coding approach were applied. Furthermore, the reasons for mentioning academic publications in comments were contrasted with the reasons for citing in scholarly works and with reasons for commenting on YouTube.

We discovered that the primary motives for sharing research links were (1) providing more insights into the topic and (2) challenging information offered by other commentators.

Arxiv :

Beyond journals and peer review: towards a more flexible ecosystem for scholarly communication

Author : Michael Wood

This article challenges the assumption that journals and peer review are essential for developing,evaluating and disseminating scientific and other academic knowledge. It suggests a more flexible ecosystem, and examines some of the possibilities this might facilitate. The market for academic outputs should be opened up by encouraging the separation of the dissemination service from the evaluation service.

Publishing research in subject-specific journals encourages compartmentalising research into rigid categories. The dissemination of knowledge would be better served by an open access, web-based repository system encompassing all disciplines. There would then be a role for organisations to assess the items in this repository to help users find relevant, high-quality work.

There could be a variety of such organisations which could enable reviews from peers to be supplemented with evaluation by non-peers from a variety of different perspectives: user reviews, statistical reviews, reviews from the perspective of different disciplines, and so on. This should reduce the inevitably conservative influence of relying on two or three peers, and make the evaluation system more critical, multi-dimensional and responsive to the requirements of different audience groups, changing circumstances, and new ideas.

Non-peer review might make it easier to challenge dominant paradigms, and expanding the potential audience beyond a narrow group of peers might encourage the criterion of simplicity to be taken more seriously – which is essential if human knowledge is to continue to progress.

Arxiv :

Impact of publisher’s commercial or non-profit orientation on editorial practices: Moving towards a more strategic approach to supporting editorial staff

Author : Katarina Krapež

This study was guided by previous research highlighting the significance of journal publishers’ commercial or non-profit orientations in shaping academic editors’ perspectives regarding the necessity of enhancing editorial and business practices. There is limited understanding of how the editor–publisher relationship varies based on publishers’ commercial orientation.

This study revealed five key factors influencing editors’ attitudes towards how publishers strive to provide high-quality publications: (i) availability of high-quality publication services; (ii) sufficient technological support and access to visibility-related data; (iii) accessible marketing and indexing services; (iv) access to continuous education for the editorial team; and (v) a balance between editorial autonomy and publisher support in managing the journal.

The study indicated that editors partnering with commercial publishers tended to receive more extensive and advanced services, better technological support, and more training opportunities, contributing to the production of superior end products.

However, working with commercial publishers resulted in the trade-off of less editorial independence, which sometimes compromised editors’ decision-making ability and made them feel uncertain about their further involvement. The study’s findings highlighted the importance of publishers adopting a more strategic approach to support their editorial staff, while considering the unique needs of each journal.

URL : Impact of publisher’s commercial or non-profit orientation on editorial practices: Moving towards a more strategic approach to supporting editorial staff


Implementing the Declaration on Research Assessment: a publisher case study

Authors : Victoria Gardner, Mark Robinson, Elisabetta O’Connell

There has been much debate around the role of metrics in scholarly communication, with particular focus on the misapplication of journal metrics, such as the impact factor in the assessment of research and researchers.

Various initiatives have advocated for a change in this culture, including the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which invites stakeholders throughout the scholarly communication ecosystem to sign up and show their support for practices designed to address the misuse of metrics.

This case study provides an overview of the process undertaken by a large academic publisher (Taylor & Francis Group) in signing up to DORA and implementing some of its key practices in the hope that it will provide some guidance to others considering becoming a signatory.

Our experience suggests that research, consultation and flexibility are crucial components of the process. Additionally, approaching signing with a project mindset versus a ‘sign and forget’ mentality can help organizations to understand the practical implications of signing, to anticipate and mitigate potential obstacles and to support cultural change.

URL : Implementing the Declaration on Research Assessment: a publisher case study


Reshaping How Universities Can Evaluate the Research Impact of Open Humanities for Societal Benefit

Authors : Paul Longley Arthur, Lydia Hearn

During the twenty-first century, for the first time, the volume of digital data has surpassed the amount of analog data. As academic practices increasingly become digital, opportunities arise to reshape the future of scholarly communication through more accessible, interactive, open, and transparent methods that engage a far broader and more diverse public.

Yet despite these advances, the research performance of universities and public research institutes remains largely evaluated through publication and citation analysis rather than by public engagement and societal impact.

This article reviews how changes to bibliometric evaluations toward greater use of altmetrics, including social media mentions, could enhance uptake of open scholarship in the humanities.

In addition, the article highlights current challenges faced by the open scholarship movement, given the complexity of the humanities in terms of its sources and outputs that include monographs, book chapters, and journals in languages other than English; the use of popular media not considered as scholarly papers; the lack of time and energy to develop digital skills among research staff; problems of authority and trust regarding the scholarly or non-academic nature of social media platforms; the prestige of large academic publishing houses; and limited awareness of and familiarity with advanced digital applications.

While peer review will continue to be a primary method for evaluating research in the humanities, a combination of altmetrics and other assessment of research impact through different data sources may provide a way forward to ensure the increased use, sustainability, and effectiveness of open scholarship in the humanities.