Launching Meta EdTech Journal

The other day I was trying to find a list of Open Access journals. I found this very useful open list from George Veletsianos. While looking through the journals it occurred to me that what would be useful would be a regular review of these, or a kind of meta-journal. Not one that just lists all the papers, but rather a filtered view.

I mentioned it on Twitter and Doug Belshaw pointed me at the new Google/Wordpress collaboration, Annotum – a WordPress theme for creating open access journals.

So in the a spirit of DIY, I have created Meta EdTech Journal. The idea is simple – three times a year an issue will be published, collating some of the articles from the open access ed tech journals. At the moment this is at my discretion, but I would welcome an editorial board, or perhaps editors to work on very focused special editions. You could imagine very interesting special editions drawing on the open access journals in all manner of subjects, and using material from the past three years or so. A Meta EdTech Medical Education Special Edition? A Meta EdTech Social Media Special Edition? A Meta EdTech Mobile Learning Special Edition? Well, you get the idea, they’re all relatively easy to do.

Now, you could say, ‘so what?’. After all, there’s nothing in this I couldn’t do in a blog, delicious, tumblr, paper.li, scoop.it, etc. However, I have come to the conclusion rather late in life, that context is important. By looking roughly journalish, calling itself a journal, behaving like a journal, and crucially only gathering together journal articles, it begins to feel like a journal. And that might be of interest to a few people. 

What I find most interesting about this though is the potential for interdisciplinarity. I have gone for a fairly boring Ed Tech focus, but you could have some really interesting intersection. Interdisciplinary journals have traditionally suffered because of the economics of publishing – they just don’t have a big enough audience. But if you are drawing on open access publications, you can make an interdisciplinary journal on any subject you want (provided there are enough open access papers to draw upon). Classics and Manga Studies? You bet. Postmodernism and Sports Psychology? Why not.

The other mild revelation, is that it’s yet another example of what I like about open access. It’s the unpredictability and different uses that content can be put to that is really exciting. Your article no longer sits in just one journal, but may appear in dozens of different ‘mashup’ or meta journals. Each of these may have a different audience, beyond the scope of the original journal. Again, as an author, why wouldn’t you want this? The development of meta-journals itself may be a driver for open access, since authors want to be included in them.

A couple of admin points: I’ve tried to give the proper attribution for each paper but if anyone thinks it looks as though I’m trying to claim authorship, let me know (it automatically adds ‘Author’ as the person who creates the post, which is annoying). I’m not a WordPress expert so I’m not sure I’ve set it up optimally. For instance I couldn’t see how to create Issues, so I have simply created a page for each issue, and listed in the sidebar. Again, any thoughts on this are welcome.

We’ll see how it goes, maybe no-one will read it, as the other tools I’ve mentioned above already fulfill this function. But for now, it was kinda cool to think ‘this afternoon, I’m going to create a journal, on my own, with no funding.’

13 Comments

  1. i definitely like this idea, and as you say it is a really good example of the kinds of possibilities that are opened up through open access (on the very day that I post something highlighting how open you can be with closed content! http://wp.me/pJwaH-4z
    i wonder if i got something picked up by your metajournal would i be able to claim it as two REFable outputs? :-p

  2. Both your WordPress questions require little hacks as I see you’re running wordpress.com.
    To get rid of the author you could edit the CSS to display:none for author. An alternative would be to create another user on the blog with a generic name and use that to login and blog instead.
    As you know a blog doesn’t have issues/editions, only posts. Another way to simulate this would be to have issue tags. Then use the same tag for all posts in an issue. The string “Volume 1 Issue 1 – December 2011” could be a tag. The advantage would be that it’s easier to go from an article to its issue. And no need to create pages.
    Nice idea. Hey, you could use Newspaper Club to print it and distribute it at conferences! Surprisingly cheap. With added context.
    http://www.newspaperclub.com/

  3. You’ve achieved a lot here. And, I’m intrigued to look behind the scenes at Annotum.
    I’ve recently become interested in Paper.li Scoop.it and so on. However, I take your point about context – a Scoop.it meta-journal would be “on the shelf” next to lifestyle, sports and whatever magazines. I don’t know what that would do to the circulation, but it may not be good for its scholarly reputation.

  4. I like it. Looks like a rich, thought-out form in the vein of the first things called blogs. I couldn’t care less about how “scholarly” it appears to move these things into their own little channel; I’ll take them in any of the other contexts you mention (in fact, I’d prefer it did so I don’t have Yet Another Place to browse), but I can understand why moving such things out of your main blog stream would appeal to some people.
    Seems to me this is part of the fragmentation, or not, of one’s self. The audience one appeals to by going this separated route will not wholly overlap with your normal readers. For me, that process of fragmentation causes other headaches that I take very personally, even even resent: why should I cater to people who want some kind of formalized, deodorized version of me, when it is the me (and the you) that makes it worth anything in the first place? Or, why should I care about people who care about such things?

  5. @Nick – no, definitely doesn’t count as two REF pubs! But it might help with the whole impact thing
    @Carl – ta for the tips. It would be a great irony if we started printing meta journals to replace online only journals, which had replaced print journals…
    @Doug -and thank you for the annotum tip. May come back to you on the editorship
    @Chris – so, was a ‘don’t’ missing from your first sentence? 😉 I take all your points and I love blogs over all. But I also think this stuff costs little so if repackaging it works better – for example, it may be hard to believe, but there are people who don’t read this blog, but might be searching for journals in ed tech and find it. I must admit, I’m not sure, maybe there is no difference, but I like this new life for existing content possibility.

  6. Martin, you are right about “context matters” – I’m just not sure that the context of this itself being a “journal” matters. To whom? The things you are republishing are, by their very nature, already vetted and part of the formal academic system. So from the author’s perspective, it’s not really adding any more incentive to them – they already published the work, got the credit. From the end users perspective, are academics more likely to recognize the credibility of a meta-journal if it looks journal-like? Maybe. It just seems to be re-enforcing a boundary that has more downsides than ups – people who only grant respectability to formal journals are already likely to do so to the journals you acknowledge through republication, and more formality’s not likely to sway people who don’t already do so.
    Which is not to say that the idea of curation and filtering itself is a bad one. But I think you touch on the critical aspect in your last few paragraphs regarding interdisciplinarity and mashups – the potentials that openness presents is in my mind best met with a format/technology that looks forward to permeability and the contamination of formerly pure categories (mashups and all the informal, improper tools that support them), and not backwards to the indivisibility of disciplines and knowledge (journals, and all the read-only formality they imply.)
    Not meaning to be harsh. And to bring it back to the example at hand, if you are going to stick with this aproach/technology, then some small additions I would suggest would be to use either categories or tags to make the author and journal names sources of data and not simply text; e.g. it would be useful after you’ve done 10 meta-issues to be able to see with a click all of the articles from IRRODL that were published (and indeed, be useful as additional context to link to ALL of the sources you are scanning in some sort of master list.) I think what you currently have listed as “Author” (e.g. mweller) is perhaps better renamed as “Reviewer”.
    Anyways, good luck, be interested to see how this plays out.

  7. Hi Scott – I wouldn’t disagree with much of what you’ve said. Certainly I think you may have a point about audience: those who care about journals won’t look at this and those that don’t won’t need it. But I am still surprised at how much journal articles mean to a lot of people, and so I find them an interesting form of content to experiment with. The good thing is it doesn’t cost anything (apart from a bit of my time) to do it. And it’s a good way to keep up in the research.
    Thanks for the suggestions for improvement – the categories point is very good, I’ll have a play and modify this.

  8. This is pretty neat. There are lot’s of great articles coming out in our field, and I often hear about them through blog posts, twitter, etc. Or they show up years later in a GScholar search. It’s also a neat way of showing the difference of publishing in an OA journal.
    One neat thing is also that you are offering comments under each article. If even a few people read the same article roughly around the same time, and commented, that would be really interesting to me – a kind of reading circle… Most of the journals do not offer any forms of comments or reader discussion.

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