International Workshop and Round Table for Ed Tech Journal Editors

As a pre-conference workshop for the EDEN Conference in Barcelona this week, UOC hosted an international workshop for editors of journals in educational technology and distance learning. The event was sponsored by “La Caixa” bank. About 18 editors, representing 13 journals, participated in the morning workshop. See a list here of participating journals. The journals ranged from well-established journals to newer journals, and included open access and traditionally published journals. The morning session represented a first of sorts as many of the editors had not been involved in such a workshop before.

There were 4 main topics for debate and discussion. It soon became apparent that despite attempts to separate out the topics, all of them are very closely interrelated. Here is my summary of some of the discussion:

1. Journal Editing and Quality Assurance

  • Quality assurance can be a very broad topic and needs to include considerations for the stakeholders involved, the key quality indicators and how these are measured.
  • There is an issue between maintaining rates of acceptance and mentorship for authors needing support before being ready to publish.
  • Peer reviewers need to be looked after to manage their workloads.
  • The quality of reviewers can be improved through pairing experienced and less experienced reviewers, reviewer mentorship programmes and sharing the feedback from reviewers and the editor.
  • There was some discussion of double-blind and single-blind review as the literature shows little difference in quality.
  • More interest is starting to be shown in access to the data used in research and not just the results, but the data is often not easily accessible.

2. Author Services

  • Journals provide a variety of author services such as tracking, publicity, statistics validation, citation validation and plagiarism checking.
  • However often these services are resource intensive and journals need to identify which services authors really need and which are nice to have.
  • Services for newer authors or junior researchers:
    • Author mentorship or the use of a “Critical friend” is helpful to authors when reviewers deem papers worthy to be published but need significant reworking – this does require time by volunteer reviewers
    • Pressure to publish for PhD students – one way to help reduce the need for all students to publish is to make students part of the reviewing team and partner with an experienced reviewer, thus gaining valuable experience and expertise.
    • Many authors require help or understanding of ethics issues and intellectual property issues – journals can provide education in this regard
    • As an example, I thought the following list discussed by the editors of why articles can be rejected before getting to peer review stage:
      • Most rejected as articles do not align with the scope of the journal
      • Articles are too long and/or do not meet journal publishing requirements
      • A few are rejected for plagiarism
      • A few are rejected for articles offering nothing “novel” or value adding to the field

3. Journal Dissemination, Impact and Metrics

  • There needs to be a wider understanding of what is meant by impact (not just citations, but impact on educational practice).
  • But academic recognition is often reliant on formal citation indexes only.
  • Understanding indices, how they are calculated and who is included is not always clear.
  • All metrics have flaws – need to use a variety of metrics and not rely on a single one.
  • Traditional indices can be used together with alternative metrics, including social networking.

4. Business Models and Sustainability

  • There are a wide variety of business models in place and some that are still being established. These include commercial publishers, university publishers, support from a society or association and others.
  • There is space in the market for commercial and open publishing and some format in-between.
  • Although there is still scope for publishing printed formats, there is a clear trend towards online publishing.
  • To be sustainable often requires a change in mindset.
  • The understanding of open access and the implications is not yet clear for all publishers and authors.

Workshop Outcomes

Although the workshop report still needs to be finalised, the following possible outcomes were discussed:

  • Formation of a mailing list for editors to share information and network.
  • Cooperation of editors working together on similar research/projects.
  • Regular meetings to be held annually or biennially that focus on issues facing editors.
  • Consideration of how to use the influence of the group of editors.

An afternoon round table was open to the public and featured a debate and discussion by 4 of the journal editors. This was streamed live and the recording of the session should soon be available. To follow the twitter stream of the event, use the hashtag #elearningjournals.

Thank you to all the participating editors and to UOC for hosting a unique event. I look forward to reading the final report of the event.