What is the Role of Scholarly Publishing in Research Impact? / Comment les publications savantes contribuent-elles à l’impact de la recherche ?

This was the question posed at the Society for Scholarly Publishing in a session on knowledge mobilization. Panelists spoke about the use of social media, videos and other forms of “creative dissemination” such as apps. David Phipps spoke about impacts of research beyond the academy derived from engaged methods of knowledge mobilization.

C’est la question qui était posée par la Society for Scholarly Publishing lors d’une rencontre sur la mobilisation des connaissances. Les panélistes ont parlé de l’utilisation des médias sociaux, de vidéos et d’autres formes de « dissémination créative », comme les applis. David Phipps a parlé de l’impact de la recherche à l’extérieur de l’université quand il est provoqué par des méthodes actives de mobilisation des connaissances.

The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), “founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization formed to promote and advance communication among all sectors of the scholarly publication community through networking, information dissemination, and facilitation of new developments in the field.” For SSP impact is measured in bibliometrics. It was a pleasure to receive their invitation to participate on a panel in Vancouver on June 2, 2016 to push them beyond academic dissemination and get them thinking about methods “beyond the PDF”.

Impact beyond dissemination

I was joined on the panel by Sarah Melton (@SVMelton, Emory Centre for Digital Scholarship) speaking about digital humanities and demonstrating an app developed for public history. Ben Mudrak (@BenMudrak, Research Square) spoke about the production of videos to enhance the reach of scholarship and Melinda Kenneway (@MelindaKenneway, Kudos) spoke about social media as tools to extend beyond scholarly dissemination. For creative dissemination methods impact is measured by reach metrics (views, downloads, social media analytics).

My presentation (slides available here) went beyond dissemination methods to speak about engaged methods of knowledge mobilization that create the conditions for impact beyond the academy. These impacts are measured by demonstrable changes in products, policy, practice and processes that benefit end users as told through narratives. The presentation ended with the question posed to the audience “what is the role of scholarly publishing and publishers in the research impact agenda?”

One interesting comment back was “Well unless we can make money doing it then we aren’t going to do it”. Melinda did a great job justifying the need for a new business model. My comment was that question is using an old business model to address a new paradigm. I suggested BetaMax asked the same question of VHS. And, more analogous, the music industry asked the same question about Napster.

Impact is now a regular feature of every grant application in Canada as exemplified by the knowledge mobilization strategy and outcomes statements in all SSHRC applications. The Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences announced a project to articulate impacts in October 2014.  In the UK impact is part of the Research Excellence Framework institutional assessment. In an environment where impact is becoming a regular part of academic scholarship and where funders such as CIHR, SSHRC and NSERC are requiring publications to be open access, publishers have yet to figure out their role and land on a new business model where research is available beyond the academy to be engaged in knowledge mobilization efforts.

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