My Love/Hate Relationship with Open Scholarship: A Reflection

As I’ve mentioned many times before to colleagues I’ve met at conferences and the like, I want my research to make a difference. I would joke how I’d prefer my work to be read outside of the white dudes in their ivory tower, and for it to make an applied, lasting impact.

After the #CuriousCoLab readings and discussions on open scholarship, however, I am feeling a little bit more like a hypocrite.

As a communication scholar that studies social media, of course I am all for promoting my research via these channels (it’s a big reason why I am so happy to follow this online course for no credit!). I’ve always enjoyed blogging and sharing my passions online – I mean #letsbehonest, my job is to teach my students how to create and promote their online brand, so of course I’m a proponent of this method. In fact, one of my summer projects is to work with my computer programmer fiance to build me a personal website where I can brag about myself to the masses even more. 😛

Where then, is my hypocrisy, you ask? Well, it is the other side of open scholarship – the open access journals – that is plaguing me a bit. Coming from a Research 1 institution (Go Terps!), I have been trained to shoot for high impact journals. The kind that institutions need a subscription to gain access to. Yes, *gulp* the same ones that probably only those white dudes in the ivory tower are able to read and critique. I’ve become a bit of a publishing snob in this sense that whenever I get open access invitations in my inbox I scoff and immediately click delete.

Now do you see why I’m torn, why I have this complicated love/hate relationship with open scholarship? On the one hand, sharing your research (especially community-engaged research!) by all means necessary is a great way to get you and your community partners out there. Social media is a fantastic way to get scholarship out to those who wouldn’t have come across it in the first place. On the other hand, I have been trained to believe that publishing the OA route limits my chances of being taken seriously in academia, and that it may hurt my chances of tenure and promotion in the future (and after all the hard work, there is no way I’d risk jeopardizing that).

So what now then? I have always been one to weigh my options (to the chagrin of my significant other when he asks me what I want for dinner). I’ve come to the conclusion that I will just go by “it depends.” Depending on the scope and focus of my work, I can look at my publishing options (both in social media and open access form, high impact journals and other dissemination means) and determine what would be the best fit, both for the research itself and for me as a junior scholar hoping to grow and make a difference in my community. And for me, that’s about the best I can do, though as always, I am always open for suggestions from those who have been successful.

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