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Peer Review

Henry Farrell has been stirring up a discussion about peer review in the digital age (1, 2, 3, 4). Obviously, that the discussion is happening at all is because the Internet radically changes the possibility of access as well as the base cost of publishing. It is changing academic publishing across the board: already current experiments in open review are under way just today the local paper reported that the University of Iowa is now pursuing online publication of graduate theses. I sympathize with the graduate students’ objections, but it seems to me that at some point they, too, will need to change their idea of what constitutes their own intellectual property. The creative writing students in particular are clearly arguing that their ability to market their work depends upon the integrity of their completed manuscripts. But the university’s publication of their theses need not necessarily be perceived as a threat. First, it has the potential to secure more readers than they would otherwise have at this point in their careers; second, there is a potential to leverage the intellectual capital of the university even more than they already do. It appears, however, that Iowa’s graduate college—not the tightest of ships, by the way—needs to spell out and perhaps negotiate its publication policy more thoroughly.



Via Dan Wickett, more on Iowa’s new policy.

I strongly suspect that the UI policy is, at least in part, one of the waves being made by Harvard’s new stance on open access, although at Harvard one can opt out (on a per work basis) totally.

I’m biased, of course, but the open access movement is a welcome and needed alternative to the current model of serials acquisition, and I think that universities add significantly to the fulfillment of their mission by adopting open access policies—and adopting those policies is the only way you will get faculty to contribute to an institutional repository (Dorothea Salo explains this all much better than I can).

I can understand the argument of those who feel that creative work is different (and I agree that libraries should retain paper subscriptions to literary journals) . I’m surprised that the library didn’t think of that objection ahead of time and figure out ways to address the issue. (Or perhaps I should not be surprised: note to libraries: hire more people with MFAs.)

Well. It should be interesting.