The Journal as International Scholarly Hub: How History and Theory Builds Global Networks

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 11:20 AM
Virginia Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Ethan Kleinberg, Wesleyan University
It is exciting and precarious time for editors: exciting because of the vast possibilities open to us, but precarious because a false step could lead us to lose either our core value—publishing high quality, article-format original scholarship—or our readership, or both. To avoid such a step, we need to reconceptualize the place and function of the academic journal, maintaining what distinguishes it from newer forms of scholarship even as we employ those newer forms to serve our core mission. We must chart a course between the analog past and digital future of academic journals such that the academic journal functions as a hub, creating a social network of scholars gathered together around a shared interest.

Despite fears that open access and on-line platforms will lead to their demise, as traditional academia comes to understand and define itself in this digital era, academic journals will play a more important role than ever. Journals are ideally suited to become international social networks of scholars to share articles, ideas, and practices across the globe. In this model, the academic journal is a peer network developing an active readership that interacts with article authors, and one another, in response to material published in the journal. The journal can then build on these relations by scheduling lectures, conferences, or events where scholars can physically meet, talk, and exchange ideas. But if we hope to maintain our core function as something greater than an academic Facebook, we must retain our traditional practices of rigorous, productive peer review and robust editorial oversight of content and form in a way that encourages us to innovate and embrace new technologies that will alter that content and form, thereby challenging our previous ideas about peer review and evaluation. It is our responsibility to embrace this change and meet this challenge.