Digitalization reduces technological and financial barriers to scientific publishing. Science can thus become faster, more inclusive and more plural. At the same time, the growing acceptance of specific forms of Open Access has also led to the rise of author-pays business models based on Article Processing Charges (APCs). The increasing publication pressure in the scientific system in combination with APCs provides incentives for creating “predatory” journals that only supposedly or very superficially conduct peer review in order to maximize their profits from such APCs. These manuscripts are at best inadequate and at worst deliberately tendentious and misleading.
Recently, an investigative report by the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and public broadcasters WDR and NDR has revealed that even researchers from reputable academic institutions publish in or represent publishers of dubious quality. In their attempt to reveal “Fake Science” (using the English term in their German reportings), journalists easily accomplished the publication of a non-sensical article in an allegedly peer reviewed journal charging APCs. What they also show is how these unscientific practices not just harm the reputation of legitimate open access journals but are also a potential source – and allegedly scientific proof – for fake news more generally.
This blogpost discusses how reputable (Open Access) journals can defend their credibility against somewhat or even completely dubious Open Access journals. In our opinion, the most sustainable response, which however would only be possible in the mid to long-term, would be to abandon author-pays business models altogether and switch to publication infrastructures financed by universities and institutions (for an example of such an approach, check out the Open Library of Humanities). In the short-term, however, certain open-peer review practices might also be helpful to address the problem of predatory open access journals.
My sister, Laura (Radboud University in Nijmegen, NL), our colleague Gordon Müller-Seitz (TU Kaiserlautern), and I have looked at an open strategy-making process of Wikimedia, the non-profit foundation behind the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. In the paper “Closing for the Benefit of Openness?“, which is now open access available at the journal Organization Studies, we find that “simply” opening up preexisting organizational processes tends to reproduce or even reinforce social inequalities already in place. To enable broad participation and to reach out to particularly marginalized groups, openness is depending on certain forms of (procedural) closure. Pleas find the abstract of the paper below:
A growing number of organizations subscribe to ideals of openness in areas such as innovation or strategy-making, supported by digital technologies and fuelled by promises of better outcomes and increased legitimacy. However, by applying a relational lens of inclusion and exclusion, we argue that, paradoxically, certain forms of closure may be necessary to achieve desired open qualities in strategy-making. Analysing the case of Wikimedia, which called for participation in a globally open strategy-making process, we show that openness regarding participation in crafting strategy content depends on certain forms of closure regarding procedures of the strategy-making process. Against this background, we propose a two-dimensional framework of openness, in which content-related and procedural openness are characterized by a combination of open and closed elements.
As Maximilian Heimstadt has announced earlier this week, we are currently working on a textbook on “Organizing Openness”. Given the topic of the book, we plan to also openly document the process of writing the textbook itself.
In the course of a kick-off meeting to launch the project in Vienna, we therefore started a blog on “Organizing Openness: Concepts and Cases” under O2C2.org (you can also follow the blog via Twitter at @O2C2project). In addition to continuous updates on the blog, we will also link to working documents for each of the chapters on the page “Textbook-in-Progress“, which will be open for anyone to comment.
Every year, Wikimedia Germany together with two partners (VolkswagenStiftung and Stifterverband) supports a small number of young scholars who are interested in the idea of open science. For eight months, these “Open Science Fellows” receive support to realize their own open science project outside the constraints of their research institution and culture. I was more than happy when in late September I got the message that my application for the class of 2017/18 was successful.
From October 2017 until 2018 I will receive financial support and mentoring (by the amazing Ina Blümel) to develop my personal open science project: Together with Leonhard Dobusch I will work on a management textbook on “Open Organizing” in which we intend to cover phenomena (e.g. open innovation, open strategy, open government) as well as theoretical concepts of openness (e.g. transparency, participation, boundaries). To make this project as open as possible, we will not only report on our progress on a dedicated blog (to be launched), but will make the textbook available as Open Educational Resource (OER). Using an open license (CC-BY or CC-BY-SA) anyone will be allowed to use, share, and remix the learning material for any purpose and at no cost.