Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Misquoted & misunderstood & open access

| 13 Comments

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 6 seconds

Reading Time: 1

Today, I was misquoted & misunderstood respectively by two people I hold very dear.

Misquoted
The first is someone who misquoted what I had said in an interview with her ( I am assuming this was because she rushed to transcribe what was supposed to be a video of me talking, but she ended up transcribing because there were tech issues; it is possible the sound quality was poor or I was talking too fast)

Lesson learned (just re-emphasizing good practice):
1. As researcher, remember to always give participants a chance to look over the transcribed interview before going ahead
2. As participant, always ask interviewer to show text of interview to avoid being misquoted
(Speaking of open access later, we should at least ensure ppl have “open access” to their own information!)

Funny enough, tweeting from today’s Open Access event, I was slightly misquoted, and I also misquoted some ppl slightly. But that is live tweeting in 140 chars, slightly excusable & understandable. Not so for “proper” research

Misunderstood
I remain frustrated by people who continue to assume that open access journals are automatically lower quality, or that their peer review process is not as rigorous. Endless, fruitless conversations on this getting me nowhere. Any tips on how to handle this? I may be too entrenched in the open access discourse to notice the problem!

13 Comments

  1. To anyone who assumes that open access is automatically lower quality, I would ask the following questions (instead of trying to explain complex issues):
    1. Are you talking about quality or access?
    2. If I pick good apples and bad oranges and then compare them, would you be interested in the results?

  2. The misunderstanding is because of confusion between “free” as gratis versus “free” as Libre. Open access is “free” so people assume it is gratis (I.e. cost nothing). People assume that things thar cost nothing are not as good as things that cost something.
    Two things worth pointing out to people with such misconceptions:
    1. OA is not gratis. Someone always pays for it.
    2. Articles that cost money are not necessarily better. Closed access publisher produce a lot of crap. You only need to look at El Nashie’s debacle at uni of Alexandria for an example.

    • Agreed! One of the other fallacies i heard was that making everything cost zero meant all of equal value. As if money was only way if measuring value!

      • It is worth remembering that all journals (OA or not) have quality control mechanisms. They vary from the (fallibly) brilliant to the non-existent. But they are neither due to or depend on the journal’s (non-)OA status.
        Quality publications are the result of quality submissions from good authors and high calibre review from good editors. If authors and editors believe in OA, you get an OA journal.

        • exactly @dataronin! Exactly! Now why can’t people at my institution understand that?!?! It’s such a simple, straightforward point!!!

  3. Hi Maha, this link covers the bigger picture of communication in new areas of study and might help understand why we may not be clear to each other. The other point about open access being of “lesser quality” or maybe unresolved is based on people being “out-there” in new areas of study where language and perspectives are not established. Criticizing from the safety of an established discipline is fine for people with nothing new to say:-)

    http://www.stanford.edu/~myras/challenges.pdf
    Habits of the Mind: Challenges for Multidisciplinary Engagement
    Myra H. Strober
    “Disciplinary specialization inhibits faculty from broadening their intellectual horizons—considering questions of importance outside their discipline, learning other methods for answering these questions and pondering the possible significance of other disciplines’ findings for their own work. This article seeks to understand more fully the factors that enhance and impede cross‐disciplinary conversations and the possible longer‐term effects of those conversations.”

    And this quote:
    Freud speaking of the study of dreams:
    “It may be that this first portion of our psychological study of dreams will leave us with a sense of dissatisfaction. But we can console ourselves with the thought that we have been obliged to build our way out into the dark.” Freud The Interpretation of Dreams

    • Hi Scott, I agree with all you’re saying. But I think even the most traditional disciplines have open access journals and some are of good quality.
      I do think open access changes quality standards e.g. How often sthg has been shared on social media. But it’s still possible for them to compete on traditional quality standards like citations, etc.
      I just see no connection between subscription cost and quality of a journal’s content! Dependence on peer reviewers means both are questionable, and I see no reason why the (unpaid) peer reviewers of a paid journal will necessarily do a better job than an open access one!

  4. Hi Maha, do you think we’ve come to equate value with cost? That good-things-cost-more logic seems to be the principal argument. But if we said people will only do good work when they know they will be paid there might be an objection. Don’t people do good work because they have standards of expectation of themselves first? Do ideas even constitute an economy in the normal sense of the word?

    Inserted somewhere in the current system the trading of ideas has become a monetary transaction that turned into a business that eventually started rewarding the marketing of those ideas over the actual production of them. There’s a natural flow to this logic when ideas were poorly distributed, not now with the internet.

    Anyway, I feel I can judge quality for myself–isn’t what i was supposed to lean in school?

    • Agree completely, Scott. I think digital age has changed the whole scarcity of knowledge/ideas argument. No marginal cost each time someone downloads an article! Or song or whatever 🙂
      Also re judging quality: agreed; which is why I’ll read more blogs than journal articles: I can judge how “worthy” a blogpost is for me, I don’t need 3 ppl to have peer reviewed it first 😉

  5. Hi Maha, what I find interesting about peer journals is they seem each locked into a particular discipline putting a restriction on what they can cover. What of stuff that appears in-between disciplines? Speculative things? Young people with new ideas. To me, self appointed panels of “experts” are intrusive plus, who’s to say they are qualified to comment on qualifications they themselves don’t have?

    Thing is, I don’t mind paying for the access to the unfamiliar or the workings of an admirable thinker. I bought a skinny little book on public relations that is more powerful and thought provoking than my whole PR library. Thinking about it, the value in new perspectives exceeded the cost and I wonder if this is where pay-wall journals really fail us. They don’t return any excitement, just confirm how dull most things said by people to prove themselves smart really are?

  6. For the open access question, I usually ask the person, who is benefit from the perception of higher quality in closed-access journals? I try to get them to see how corporations are exploiting academics in close-access journals – or at least to appreciate the inherent bias is closed access. Peer review is peer review, the distribution channel should not be relevant. I find that I need to get people to think about the influence of the large publishers in order for the to start to see the benefits to open access. It isn’t just about ability for anyone to read it, it is also about changing who holds the power .. taking it away from profit seeking organizations that are not adding any value and exploiting authors, and allowing the authors to take back the power of publishing.

    • Love that angle, Rebecca, focusing on power and in whose interest it is to distort that perception of quality. Though I have noticed that this angle also goes over som people’s heads. Talk about power, etc., is quite common in some circles but other people tend to view it as if it were conspiracy theories we are making up in our own heads or something! To be totally honest, some critical literature sounded like that to me, too (mostly not the scholarship itself but grad students citing it in different contexts). But of course, now I see the whole world through that lens and I sort of cannot see it any other way. Most digitally literate people I know who have a critical perspective on life would see the open access issue the way you and I do. Will try this angle and report back on my blog about what people say

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