06 SES 06 JS, Challenges and Risks in Open Access, Open Educational Resources and Open Learning
Joint Paper Session NW 02, NW 06, NW 12, NW 30
Open access implemented by scientific open journals is usually associated with the values of freedom, democracy and solidarity. All people should have the opportunity to access scientific knowledge equally, not least because the production of scientific knowledge is funded with tax money. While the stated values are shared among open access journals, many of them implement peer review processes. With peer review processes, a disciplinating structure is established. Actually, a closer look at the history of peer review processes reveals that peer review is incorporated censorship. Biagoli showed that peer review has been developed from the right for self-censorship that has been given to the Royal Academy of London and the Academie Royale des Sciences of Paris in the 17th century. Academic papers were not excluded from censorship by these rights, but the academies were allowed to conduct the censorship themselves. Censorship is one of the bases for academic publishing, while censorship is usually associated with values of power and control. From this perspective, peer review can be understood as a social activity of inclusion and exclusion (Graue 2006). Thus peer review as a social activity does not comply with the values of freedom, democracy and solidarity.
This raises the question if peer review should be implemented at all by open access journals. One argument for the implementation of peer review processes is that peer review raises the quality of published papers and excludes low quality papers. Unfortunately, most studies about peer review show that this does not work (e.g. Peters and Ceci 1982, Jefferson et al. 2002, Bornman 2012). While peer review does not increase the quality of papers, it supports the accumulation of social capital (Fröhlich 1998). The aquired capital allows for making profit later on. Peer review thus works similiar as the obviously closely related impact factor, which implements the structure of viewing figures in the scientific field. Thus the function of peer review is to implement a structure where profit from distinction can be made on the basis of capital.
While some scholars argue that profit orientation and freedom go together well, this is doubted by many others. This difference can hardly be solved in terms of truth. However, it is hardly doubted that profit orientation and scientific truth are incompatible. Thus peer review processes circumvent scientific work. From this perspective, scientific open access journals (and all other scientific journals) should suspent peer review processes, because peer review and scientific are incompatible. Still, the necessitiy for successful acquisition of capital can not be simply ignored, since some sort of selection criterion in universities is necessary.
A literature review of historical and empirical findings of peer review processes has been conducted. Results are condesed by interpreting the results with the theory of capital as suggested by Bourdieau.
It is concluded that the challenge is to implement a structure that allows scientists to aquire capital without contaminating truth. Insterstingly, a similiar problem was discussed by Kant in his work "Der Streit der Fakultäten". He suggests a structure that detaches power and truth while considering the interests of power on truth and the interests of truth on power. This is reached by a structure of checks and balances within Universities and between Universities and governments. In the outlook, the structure of open access journals and suggestions like multi stage open peer review are reflected with the idea of the seperation of powers to encourage further discussion of the problem at hand.
Biagioli, Mario (2002): From Book Censorship to Academic Peer Review. In: Emergences - Journal for the Study of Media & Composite Cultures, 12 (1), 11-45. Bornmann, Lutz (2019: The Hawthorne effect in journal peer review. In: Scientometrics 91, 857–862 [http://www.lutz-bornmann.de/icons/Hawthorne.pdf, 2.8.12]. Graue, Beth (2006): The Transformative Power of Reviewing. In: Educational Researcher35 (36) [DOI: 10.3102/0013189X035009036]. Jefferson, Tom; Alderson, Philipp; Wagner, Elizabeth; Davidoff, Frank: Effects of Editorial Peer Review. A Systematic Review. [http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=194989#REF-JRV10095-24, 6.8.2012] Kant, Immanuel (2005): Der Streit der Fakultäten. Hrsg. von Horst D. Brandt und Piero Giordanetti. Felix Meiner Verlag: Hamburg. Peters, Douglas P.; Cecia, Stephen J. (1982): Peer-review practices of psychological journals: The fate of published articles, submitted again. In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences (5), 187-195 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00011183, 2.8.2012].
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