Monday, February 14, 2011

Struggling with my inner hippy

Having said a couple of years ago that I was going to spend the rest of my working life as a self-employed free spirit, I find myself employed by an Australian university as a midwifery lecturer.

Research brownie points
This is the first time I have worked in the university sector (my academic life so far has been in the polytechnic/tafe sector) and the thing that strikes me most is the demands that are placed on academics to be producing research outputs in order to gain recognition, funding and super dooper brownie points. Research has to be published in the top ranking scientific journals which brings about all sorts of questions for me, not least how this is going to work with my philosophy to only publish in open access journals.

Academic freedom
Leigh Blackall talks about the effect this has on academic freedom and how it brings about "silent subservience to the authority". As far as I am concerned, the only way for this to change is for us to stick together and continue to publish in OA journals so that they become top ranked journals. To my mind, it is not so much that the top ranked journals are the is that they are the most well known. If we support OA journals, they too will become better known...will attract top work...become top ranked...and attract yet more top work.

So I am afraid my inner hippy is rebelling when told to only publish in journals such as "Birth" or "Midwifery". My top choice for publishing midwifery research will be "Women and Birth", which is a 'B' ranked journal but openly available to readers.

Post Script
On the same issue, I had to laugh at Steve Wheeler's latest blog post about OA and academic research: Pigs are flying. Have a read to see his reaction when asked to pay to have his research published.


David Callaghan said...

Hi Sarah

I fully empathise with your concerns. How about publishing in the top journal and then doing a similar but broader piece in an Open Access journal, perhaps with a wider reference to existing literature? Further, you may be able to take advantage of the shorter timescale of OA. Finally, this approach gets you (and your institution) more visibility, and the top journal will have more citations (from your OA publication). Could this be a win-win methodology?

Kindest, D

Sarah Stewart said...

Not a bad idea...thanks, David :)

Carolyn Hastie said...

Women and Birth will soon be an A journal! Midwifery leaders are coming onto the editorial board. All will be revealed soon. Professor Kathleen Fahy is doing a brilliant job steering the evolution of this and relevant journal. I agree with David about the different aspects of any work for various levels of publication prestige. My own thinking is that publishing for academia is all very well, we have to also write for women and their families and in places they can readily & easily access the information.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'm extremely pleased to hear about Women and Birth....that's the journal I'll be aiming for as long as it stays open access.