How long does it take to do science? The emergence of time in scholarly communication

By Thaiane Oliveira

Continuing the series of posts on Panel 3.1 “Fast communication: preprints, peer-review, continuous publishing” of SciELO 20 Years Conference: talking about the importance of time management regarding science.

After coexisting with correspondence, monographs, and treatises – which often took several years to publish – early in the nineteenth century, scientific journals became the most expeditious and expedient way to disseminate new research results. However, the celerity of the printed publication process no longer responds to the technological advances that have made time an indispensable currency. Since the communication and information technologies in the digital environment have become popularized and turned into one of the main means of communication, scholarly communication has undergone a new transformation. Gradually, scientific journals began to be disseminated through the Internet and printed versions gradually diminished, due to their cost and lack of agility regarding the editorial process which did little to reflect the advances of communication technologies and the speed of information in the so-called knowledge era.

However, the changes in the scholarly communication models were not only a response to the speed and technological advances to which contemporaneity is subject. These are also answers to more complex questions that are related to the circulation of science, reconfiguration of academic work and changes on the paradigm of communication beyond technological determinisms. In a post-mass communication model, based on an open-ended, many-to-many process, information flow control is not limited to the subject that held the traditional decision-making powers over what would become publishable, as in the traditional model. In this new communication paradigm, different forms of autonomous content production emerge and reconfigure, disputing space and legitimacy over information in digital environments.

This model is also reflected on scholarly communication, in which the responsibility of reporting science is no longer limited to journal editors and agents of institutional communication. Communicating and disseminating science is also understood as the responsibility of the researcher himself, whose function of self-realization and image-making is also understood as part of the academic work1, 2, divided up with other activities related to education and research, among them, reviewing journal articles, for example. This accumulation of functions by the researcher, whose time management is also a great challenge, ends up creating obstacles in the editorial process. The editorial workflow is constantly impacted by the researcher’s free time to review scientific articles for the journals, increasing the time between submission and publication and making it difficult for the editors themselves, who unfold in different strategies to get quality reviews.

It is in this “liberation of the sender” context of scholarly communication, in which researchers begin to autonomously manage their image as part of the academic work and before the difficulties faced in managing the editorial workflow, that models like preprint become an important tool for knowledge dissemination, especially in countries that are not part of the dominating axis of the scientific market, as is the case in part of Europe and the United States, which form an oligopoly of scientific publishers. For Latin America, preprints not only solve the time management problem and the management of academic work, but also tend to balance out the inequalities generated by the scientific publication from a traditional model whose decision by the editor is sovereign. A recently published report3 by Clarivate Analytics investigated tendencies of articles rejection and approval from ScholarOne and Web of Science. Although the study points to an improvement in the rate of direct approval and a retreat of the direct rejection rate for articles by Brazilian authors, it is still possible to observe the differences in the dynamics of publication when the authors are from countries considered peripheral or semi-peripheral, such as Iran, India and Brazil. In these countries, decision time on rejection is shorter when authors are from emerging countries, while most reviewers are located in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan.

Such dynamics would not be naturalized in this ecosystem of scientific publications if principles such as free and open access, transparent evaluation process, and rapid dissemination of research, such as those shared by Open Science, were adopted from models of open scholarly communication and easy access to the public. Among these initiatives that are reconfiguring scholarly communication, preprints have been consolidated as a promising space not only to expedite the publication process, but also to make the process of scientific knowledge more transparent, and even to balance out inequalities on scientific visibility of emerging countries.

Notes

1. A research carried out with researchers from different areas of knowledge and at different career levels pointed out that 17 out of 18 researchers interviewed were of the opinion that scientific communication is understood as part of the academic work.

2. OLIVEIRA, T. Midiatização da Ciência: Reconfiguração do paradigma da comunicação científica na era digital. In: XXVII Encontro Anual da Compós, Belo Horizonte, 2018 [viewed 4 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.compos.org.br/data/arquivos_2018/trabalhos_arquivo_E2914S5R8AUHF69PEX0R_
27_6978_27_02_2018_09_23_29.pdf

3. POTTER, I. Connecting the dots from submission to decision, the fate of scholarly papers. In: Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt, 2017 [viewed 4 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.sibi.usp.br/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Clarivate_2017-FBF-Hotspot-Connecting-the-dots-1.pdf

References

LARIVIÈRE, V., HAUSTEIN, S. and MONGEON, P. The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. PloS ONE [online]. 2015, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. e0127502 [viewed 4 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127502. Available from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0127502

OLIVEIRA, T. Midiatização da Ciência: Reconfiguração do paradigma da comunicação científica na era digital. In: XXVII Encontro Anual da Compós, Belo Horizonte, 2018 [viewed 4 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.compos.org.br/data/arquivos_2018/trabalhos_arquivo_E2914S5R8AUHF69PEX0R_
27_6978_27_02_2018_09_23_29.pdf

POTTER, I. Connecting the dots from submission to decision, the fate of scholarly papers. In: Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt, 2017 [viewed 4 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.sibi.usp.br/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Clarivate_2017-FBF-Hotspot-Connecting-the-dots-1.pdf

 

About Thaiane Oliveira

Professor of the Graduate Program in Communication at Universidade Federal Fluminense, coordinator of the Journal and Scholarly Communication Forum of the Pró-Reitoria de Pesquisa, Pós-graduação e Inovação da UFF and Coordinator of the Science, Innovation, Technology and Education Research Laboratory (Cite-Lab).

 

Translated from the original in Portuguese by Lilian Nassi-Calò.

 

Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

OLIVEIRA, T. How long does it take to do science? The emergence of time in scholarly communication [online]. SciELO in Perspective, 2018 [viewed ]. Available from: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2018/07/06/how-long-does-it-take-to-do-science-the-emergence-of-time-in-scholarly-communication/

 

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