Audiovisual aids to vocational training and academic publishing: a proposal

Is this the future of academic publishing?


The world of academic publishing has barely begun to adapt to the new challenges and opportunities of the internet age. On-line publication is firmly established, and on-line submission and reviews has to some extent speeded the processing of papers. The inclusion of clickable hyperlinks for references within and between texts in particular is a valuable aide to scholarship. But in essence the core product – published papers, dependent on peer-reviewed for credibility and further citations for ‘impact’ - is unchanged.

Academic publishing’s current near-monopoly control over career preferment for researchers, based on publication count, seems to remain secure for the moment, and if anything, this command of the market is growing. But both inside and outside this enclosed world, there is growing debate over the reliability of peer review, and the subscription-based business model is having to content with a world in which eye-catching and fast-moving exchange of information is becoming an expectation.

The demand that research must also have tangible impact suggests that measures that count solely on journal publication or citation must soon be reviewed, whether by funders or governments. Publication alone may no longer be enough.

The internet is a ‘disruptive’ technology; but if there is the possibility of a marriage between the relative trustworthiness and guaranteed quality of academic publishing and the vivacity and open-ness of the web, especially for niche markets and communities, such an arrangement could be highly advantageous.  Whichever academic publishing house first enters this market, it may or may not then be able to secure intellectual property rights over the model; but it will at least gain an 'edge' over its competitors.

The time seems right for an experiment in a new form of academic publishing, with real impact, supported by and supporting more academic credibility - which is the central issue where the web itself is weakest. But with direction from an advisory board, on which are represented both frontline service sector reps and professional bodies' reps, we can construct a form of effective quality assurance that commands greater confidence than formal peer review.

For the potential workings and the wider implications of this approach, as a pilot for a whole new form of academic and professional training, now read on.