There is so much horseshit written about academics needing to write popular stuff to ‘engage’ big audiences. Some claim that writing for specialist audiences is a ‘failure’ of some kind, and that we should all write only on blogs or for popular magazines. Personally, I don’t see it as either/or: different kinds of writing are required for different research and different audiences. We should be doing bits of everything, as well as our ‘core’ research for specialist audiences. Ideally, we should write so that individual pieces of work are accessible to different kinds of reader…
Also, I believe that my research articles, the oldest of which is now 19 years old, are still worth reading and relevant to contemporary research. None have been ‘superseded’, and many now form part of broader projects of research and debates in early medieval archaeology and mortuary archaeology involving many dozens of scholars. So I think that stuff I did 19 years ago, the stuff I did 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or this year, should all still be in the public domain for those who want it.
I don’t care how many times they are cited; that’s really not the point. The key is for this research to be available to those who need to use it for their own studies and researches, when they want it, no matter how few they may be.
I spent a large part of my Sunday preparing a tranche of my past research articles (book chapters and journal articles) for archiving online with my institutional repository, only to discovery that it is no longer part of their ‘editorial policy’ to actually archive staff publications before 2014. So rather than an institutional repository to facilitate the discoverability and dissemination of my research, both past and recent, to both fellow academics and the wider public, Chester Rep seems to be misunderstanding itself as a temporary audit list for the next REF exercise and nothing more. This depresses me, and I’m lobbying for us to revert to being an institutional repository. This isn’t, however, the first time I’ve felt that universities have a long way to go to realise their responsibilities in archiving and disseminating the work of their staff.
Having given up with the insidious ResearchGate and finding all online research sites as riddled with narcissistic features, it still looks as if the only effective way to archive my past papers online is to revert to SelectedWorks and Academia.edu.
So I love and hate these sites. Still, I think they are integral to any active researcher’s public profile, especially when University websites and repositories are far from fit for purpose to serve as interfaces between me and my colleagues, let alone the wider public.
So, I’ve just finished working my way back through and uploading (where I can) all my publications since 2010 so they are usable and available to those who cannot afford print publications or access to print-only and pay-wall protected journals. I haven’t broken any copyright: I’ve been uploading my author-accepted versions apart from in cases where the ‘version of record’ is open access.
In the long run, I’m not sure I care how ‘popular’ my research becomes. But I do want the outputs to be available in an enduring fashion in a recognised venue.
Well, partly for my own career purposes. Partly for the REF. Partly because this stuff was paid for by the public purse and should be available. Partly because it is all still relevant to ongoing research debates, theories and datasets.
I’m not sure I’m there yet…
This isn’t news, apart from to make clear that, while I cannot afford to pay fees to reach most open access journals (and I’m not convinced these are the best venues in the long term in any case), I can still readily and effectively make my publications available to those interested in them whilst publishing my research in scholarly venues. It is also to make clear that my research isn’t about ‘serious stuff’ and a separate ‘public outreach’ section; they should be part of a spectrum, elements of a whole, from posing new questions, investigating data in the field or in published literature, through to writing up my findings…