KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Monthly Archives: May 2010

Peer-Review, Open-Access, and Research as a "Public Good"

Congress for the Humanities and Social Sciences is currently meeting in Montreal (May 28-June 4), and The Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA) met in Calgary earlier this month. At each of these events, I had the pleasure of discussing the use of social media for research dissemination and the future role of Open Access Journals. In Calgary, the conversation questioned the demise of peer-reviewed journals. In Montreal, the pre-Congress workshop looked at Open-Access and research as a “Public Good”. (Check out my tweets about the workshop on Twitter @KMbeing). Both discussions touched on the breaking down of old forms of research dissemination and the emergence of new collaborative styles.

I’d never really thought about the demise of peer-reviewed journals before, as I make full-use of them to inform my own work as a Digital Researcher, especially on the so-called back-end when final publication takes place. On the front-end, I’ve been involved in the rigorous process of getting research findings published in a peer-reviewed journal (with no guarantee) after upwards of six-months or more. Unfortunately, this scrupulous process not only stale-dates the already ‘aging’ findings, but also overlooks the importance of expediency in providing findings that are immediately relevant to other current research taking place.

The long-accepted “normal” dissemination process of academic research has been a publish or perish reward system involving the drawn-out submission to and approval from peer-review – with the final “reward” being publication. Shouldn’t the final reward be research for the public good?

I still believe in research expertise, assessment, and publication; but the old, lengthy peer-review process has become a rather out-dated mode that initially “uses” the public as “subjects” for the research process, and then excludes them from public access of the research findings. More importantly this old style ignores the more immediate and collaborative approach of knowledge mobilization – with its focus on more timely community-academic interaction to inform current public policy from research findings, even in the early stages of research before any publication.

There is a need for a more updated peer-review process, a process that includes “peer-review” at every step of the research process – and that process appears to be Open Access.  Such journals take into consideration the current influence of social media, public collaboration, and the knowledge of current research as a public good. That is the future, and it means collaboration beyond the Ivory Tower of Academia to inform and disseminate research as a public good and a public right within the world of digital media. The old method of peer-review may not be dead – but it is on life-support. Its recovery medicine is to evolve into a more inclusive process. This process includes the notion of research as a public good – freely, and readily available throughout each stage of the research process. Through open access and social media research not only informs, but is informed.

Don’t get me wrong. Peer-review still has an important role to play in open-access – and even open-access has its own problems. Two underlying concerns at the Montreal workshop (as in the world-at-large) that continue to hamper the evolution of peer-review and open access are power and money. The workshop prompted some very important questions:

  • Who controls the research and how it gets used?
  • Who pays for the research/dissemination as a “public good”?
  • Why does research have to be a “public good”?
  • Who defines what is “public” or what is “good”?
  • What is a “public good”?

These are all great questions, and our workshop discussion prompted much needed debate that needs to be continued. It’s clear that the ways of thinking about how research is done, shared, and paid for needs some re-evaluation.

I don’t profess to have the answers, but think it’s important to ask questions. That’s why discussions like the ones at CAURA and the pre-Congress workshop are important.  Yet such questions need to address the immediacy of research communication, the importance of university-community collaboration, and the practical application of research beyond publication with the public and for the “public good”.

What do you think?

Social Etiquette: Talk, Telephone, Text or Tweet?

Can you believe it? A person was having a long and loud cell phone conversation while exercising beside me at the gym! We were both on elliptical machines. I agree, depending upon how vigorously you’re working out, it is possible to have face-to-face conversations with others you meet and greet at the gym – short conversations being the ideal. But, Mr. Long-winded was talking for over half of my 20 minute workout, and actually drove one person away to another machine after having to listen to such annoying ramblings. And, of course, Mr. Long-winded was totally oblivious to anyone’s annoyance.

It got me thinking about social etiquette and the use of modern technology in a situation like this.

From his perspective, Mr. Long-winded obviously didn’t care what others were thinking. He continued on with his loud, chatty-chatty exercise routine insensible to others or – even worse – on purpose to annoy others.

Oh, look at me and how important and smart I am. I can talk on the phone and exercise at the same time!!!

If his talk had been about more urgent matters there may have been more leeway; but, his casual, shrill banter about who was “doing” who seemed to make it even more inappropriate.

Would I have thought differently if Mr. Long-winded was simply talking to another person who walked up to his machine or was working out beside him? Probably not.

For the most part, many gym-goers (including me) rely on headphones plugged into music or podcasts to distract us from the pain of exercise-burn, the noise of fellow sweat-makers, or the gym-socializing that goes on around us.  We can usually tune out the surrounding din and focus on the exercise at hand.  Yet, I could actually hear this guy’s conversation over my music! If this same loud conversation had been going on face-to-face for ten minutes and I overheard their talking within my own little iPod world, I’d still be annoyed.

Then I started thinking about social etiquette and the use of other forms of social technology in a place like the gym. Thank goodness for mp3s, iPods and iPhones to keep us motivated while exercising; but would I have thought differently if he was somehow managing to maneuver the machine while texting to someone at the same time. Probably not.

As a matter of fact, I might actually find it amusing watching his elliptical arms try to text – especially for over ten minutes. I’m sure he’d only manage to type out a few sentences, but what’s the point? It’s not usually part of  exercising. Or are we so digitally-addicted we can’t step back from it – even while exercising?

Then there’s Twitter. This I can perhaps understand a little better if one wants to quickly inform the world about your most recent activity (exercising) or link/send some immediate relevant information. Even browsing Twitter to retweet might be easier if you really felt the need to communicate with someone else while exercising. But again, what’s the point? It’s not usually part of exercising – or has this changed recently? Am I missing out? Should I be pulling out the iPhone and calling all my friends while swimming now?

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are great health & fitness apps like DailyBurn that can be used to list or track your exercises while you’re actually exercising, but they’re meant for simple, fast input – not lengthy conversations or ongoing data drivel.

So, I think it wasn’t so much that he was talking on his cell phone but that he was talking LOUDLY on his cell phone; and it wasn’t so much that he was talking LOUDLY on his cell phone, but that he was talking LOUDLY and LONG on his cell phone; and it wasn’t so much that he was talking LOUDLY and LONG on his cell phone, but that he was using TECHNOLOGY at the WRONG time in the WRONG place.

Am I right or am I wrong?

Do we go to a fitness place to exercise or socialize? Or perhaps this is taking mutli-tasking to the next level? Are you there to focus and get fit or talk, telephone, text or tweet?

I’m all for communicating and exchanging knowledge and experience – especially sometimes in a timely manner – as I think it’s vital to the development of new ideas, meeting deadlines or creating effective relationships. Current technology and use of social media provides us with this great opportunity. But isn’t there still a proper time and place?

I hope so! Or next time, you might be the one overhearing that long, loud and annoying cell phone conversation at the gym!

Private/Public Time & Space

Keeping up with Web 2.0 can be a rather A.D.D. inducing experience and, more and more, social networking seems to blur the lines between my personal (private) and professional (public) life.

Mixing private and public time and space, I use social media to connect with my family and friends, but also certain colleagues within my social networks such as Facebook and Twitter,

both at home and at work. I use these sites for personal communication and also to do research – specifically, the work I do as a digital researcher. Interested professional researchers like me are jumping onboard to understand how knowledge is being shared – particularly through knowledge mobilization – and why concepts of public and private seem to be more indistinct.

The many ways that digital technology can be used for both personal and professional networks is expansive, yet the lines are seemingly crossing – and my attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter!

I have two WordPress blogs that combine personal and professional interestst by putting my psychology and research background to good use. LifeBalance Questions Comments deals with general, self-reflection issues about life while LifeBalance Relationships asks and receives comments about intimacy and relationship issues. Both are designed for interactive and collaborative forms of social knowledge sharing.

I have a LifeBalance Twitter account to link to these blogs, along with my Facebook account to stay in touch with family and friends.

Then, I have this more professional KMbeing blog you’re reading right now, and a KMbeing Twitter account. As I suspect with many people, I like to keep the more emotional, self-reflective side separate from the more professional research side of my online networks, but it does seem to be more difficult. Thankfully, whenever I check my email I keep two separate accounts. I still have a private Yahoo account for private communications and a Gmail account for public ones.

The Internet has given us a multitude of tools to choose from to quickly communicate and collaborate. These constantly emerging tools can be used both personally and professionally with what seems like an endless number of applications, blogs, and websites being created daily. With constantly emerging choices it really does seem, as Apple says…there’s an “app for that” – for either private or public use (or a combination of the two).

The multitude of choices makes it difficult to keep up with the fast pace of digital technology while trying to separate personal and professional time. Now, public space is bleeding more and more into what is questionably private space.

Are my Yahoo emails or Facebook pages private when I’m bombarded by public advertising? (Now, Twitter is going to  start!) One can easily find oneself multi-tasking using a private cell phone to have a conversation with a friend while texting or emailing to the office on a PDA, while also “checking in” at public locations (via GPS on the same digital devices) to receive consumer reward points using Foursquare.

Where’s public and where’s private anymore?

Blogging and microblogging by anyone with something to say or share has become ubiquitous at home and at work. Sites like WordPress and Twitter have created systems of global connections that overlap the private and public.

Social bookmarking using Delicious (personally or professionally) and slide presentations with Slideshare make it easier to store and present data for and to a wider audience. Yet, this wider audience can be both a private and/or a public one.

On the upside, these advancements in Web technology and social media have facilitated faster and simpler communication, referencing and associations. On the downside, a primarily one-way data network (Web 1.0) has now become a mass network of social connections and tools (Web 2.0) for personal and professional users to keep up with. Sure there are ways social media has made things easier, but the lines between personal and professional are clearly being blurred. Global tracking and social network websites like FourSquare bring private gaming and public marketing to a whole new level. There are now even Open University and website conferences /platforms with keynote speakers or presenters that one can create or attend online from the comfort of your own home (or work if you like).

Keeping track of all of these private and public network connections and tools can become a time challenge, with professional time being mixed with personal time and vice versa. Keeping up to speed on the social media highway between private and public can be difficult and distracting – but at least I’ve got my iPhone GPS.