Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t those who just follow like sheep and are happy to agree regardless. Also how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree. While a lot of people would agree with this it isnt always put in to practice which can and is detrimental. Part of the problem was that it takes time to transform perception, even if data shows that something is incorrect it isnt always that simple. We not only need to Dare to disagree, but also dare to believe in an alternative view or belief based on data and new information. We must ourselves be open to changing our own views or consider other possibilities.
This week we were looking at the argument of publishing academic articles and the costs that go with it. I must start off by saying it’s not something I have given much thought. Lecturers bring the topic up from time to time but as far as I’m concerned while in university they are all free for me. Of course people will point out I incur costs through my education fees but I’m sure my education fees are wasted on much less worthwhile endeavours.
All three pieces I read looked at the option of open access and its validity and as with everything there are two sides to every story. The figures stated seem outlandish and the first piece I read “Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist” says it all in the title. The last article I read was the only one that tried to actually explain the outlandish costs “Open access: The true cost of science publishing” that publishers slap on. Something I can’t quite get to grips with is the variation in prices. Some articles cost less than a $/€100 with others going in to the thousands. The explanation of course comes down to hybrid journals and the importance of the subject matter as well as the peer review process but it still seems over the top.
The debate about open access was discussed thoroughly in “Gold or green: which is the best shade of open access?” and while people seem to be pushing for this is doesn’t actually seem like a viable option to me. Costs would be shifted and the debate whether the average price per article would actually rise or fall is still unsure due to economic demands. Furthermore the lack of enthusiasm as it was put from researchers and research funders to deposit any manuscripts they publish in subscription journals in free online repositories seems an intriguing issue.The lack of a business model behind the gold open access coupled with the fact they seemed to have an agenda going in to it does not shine a good light on that route. However I would be worried if the green open access was adopted, there would be far too much to be waded through with everyone having their articles accessible. I admittedly don’t understand and would need to carry out further research which of course depends on the access I have to what’s published I suppose.
The general consensus is that open access is the way to go and it will eventually become the way. However coming from my economic background I can’t see why organisations would even entertain the idea of relinquishing any power especially if there is nobody forcing them, which there is not. Apparently this debate has been going on since the early 90s and from what I could ascertain will continue on for some time to come. Of course with anything technology has its impact. Many organisations are still dealing with antiquated workflows for arranging peer review, typesetting, file-format conversion and other chores. Whereas small start-ups can come up with fresh workflows using the latest electronic tools, some established publishers are.
Only time will tell and every vested party will have their say no doubt and keep a close eye but who eventually wins out is a mystery nobody can answer at this point in time.
This week’s selected readings were highly interesting. I started off the Howard and Davis article which looked at how problems are solved. It took ideas, firstly evidence based practice (EBP) which deals with solving a problem with previously thought out solutions. Looking at what is already in place to solve upcoming problems essentially. Secondly was design thinking which brings in the concept of iterations which was an extremely important concept last semester in a class I took called system analysis and design. This idea is to go beyond what we already know and come up with new creative solutions to solve new creative problems. The article continued to try and create a hybrid between these two solution ideologies by taking the best of both.
This brings me nicely to the second reading Bowler et al, It was quite a long reading but honestly the most interesting and one I know I am going to come back to again and again. It didn’t particularly throw up any new concepts I haven’t come across before but it did amalgamate them in to one piece. The corner stone of the article was user centred design (UCD). This idea is based on creating a solution by involving the user in the process. Quite often the user is ignored even though they are the one who will end up using whatever the product will be. In this article it looked at how the user searches for information. The idea of using social tagging was very interesting and kind of ties in to the crowd sourcing I spoke about last week. By combining the power of a lot of people you can eventually create a solution that benefits the greater majority.
Some of the best solutions are quite often the ones you are not thinking about. It is not always simple. I suppose that’s why people say geniuses tend to be a bit mad. So I am not sure if it is good thing to be sane all of the time. Even in the Bowler et al, article when they looked at participatory web interface design with children you can see the logic behind it. Children think in a completely different fashion to adults and come out with some extraordinarily creative thoughts. When trying to solve a problem or come up with solutions, it is important to think outside the box, or even think like a child or a mad man or a bit of both. While some of the solutions that are thought will be utterly useless by applying the thought process in the Howard and Davis article eventually a solution will created and it could be great.