Why should you care about the future of academic publishing?

Now this is a question I often find myself thinking about. A lot. But before we move on to discuss academia, let’s take a brief detour that further urges us to focus on the future of academic publishing (and work, for that matter).

Look around you, and you’ll notice institutions and industries evolve, emerge, and transform. Even the public sector is warming up to the idea of inviting (service) designers onboard to see how we might reinvent and reimagine the future of public sector. Rejuvenating or reimagining industries is by no means a new phenomenon. Sometimes change emerges from within, and at times external actors enter the picture and impose changes either directly or indirectly. Moreover, change occurs at various paces, and more ofen than not changes in industries are visible within one generation. 

Point here is that change is inevitable, but somehow academia has been left almost untouched. WHY, ACADEMIA, WHY?

If you have ever thought about this, don’t worry; you’re not alone! That’s what I found out when I teamed up with Kaskas‘s team to host a workshop on the future of academic publishing on a sunny post-Flow Monday in Helsinki, Finland.   
A blog post on the workshop’s outputs was released recently in Finnish (check the link above), and I thought it would be great to expand the discussion from Finnish to English. 

Basically the idea of the workshop was to imagine potential futures for academic publishing by inviting participants from various fields: universities, companies, and public sector. And it was amazing!


As the picture above shows, it was a cosy bunch of brilliant people in Kaskas’s wonderful office.

So what was created during this afternoon workshop?


Outputs from left to right:

  1. ‘Revolution’s publication fruit’ – rethink the publication process by drawing on gamification, crowdsourcing, and accessibility
  2. ‘Academic work’ – focus on creating new high-standard open access journals
  3. ‘Open up your publication process’ – a toolbox for young scholars to boost their career advancement
  4. ‘Strange attractor’ – create a new publishing platform that is able to attract critical mass behind it

We started the workshop by asking the participants to write down challenges and problems in the current system on post-its and to attach them on the whiteboard. Then, we started forming broader themes out of these, and these themes were used as the basis for the posters and solutions described above.

So, to return to the question presented in the title of this post, why should you care about the future of academic publishing?

  1. Structures and institutions today are decades old, and as such they can no longer adequately address contemporary challenges and problems
  2. Building on this, the impact of our scientific endeavours in the society is somewhat questionable
  3. Due to the existing business models, academic publishing isn’t equally available to everyone

I have to say I’m super excited about this! Was so inspiring to discuss these issues with people who feel passionate about reinventing academia and academic work. As I briefly mentioned in the beginning of this post, change doesn’t always happen fast, but this workshop felt like the first step on an exciting journey to change the way we conduct research and communicate our findings to our peers and other stakeholders.

How do you feel about this? Have your say in the comment field below or in Kaskas’ blog!

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