quality, since 1933
Image by debaird™ via Flickr

My original idea for this post was to examine our usage data and then list the “top posts” of 2011. This straightforward and defensible plan was thwarted because it seems the Scholarly Kitchen’s expansive pantry has been raided quite often over the past year, so much so that the list of most-viewed articles is a hodge-podge of articles spanning our four-year existence. The archive is turning out to be quite powerful. That’s good news. But it means I’ve been forced to take the subjective route, listing the posts that were, for me, the most resonant and likely the best additions to the archive. That’s not to say others weren’t important — news value, general updates, interesting insights, great essay, and interesting blends all matter, and all are vital to making this site work. But there were some posts that gleamed with “classic” as soon as they hit the Interwebz.

  • Governance and the Not-for-Profit Publisher. Not-for-profit organizations form the backbone of scholarly publishing, and they have their own quirky charms, one of which is a governance approach that often has less-than-desirable results — short-term thinking; do-gooderism over pragmatism; an aversion to risk. This post by Joe Esposito nicely elaborates on why mimicking for-profits in some ways can actually lead to improved governance.
  • Have Journal Editors Become Anachronisms? This post is a classic both for its topic but more significantly for the elaboration Phil Davis gave to the entire “quality signaling” aspect of journals. There is a nice description of a vital conceptual framework here, and much to appreciate.
  • What We Should Learn From the Collapse of Borders. A major bookstore chain dies, but what does it teach us? It turns out there’s a lot to learn about how precipitous the fall can be, and how surprising and subtle the pressures can be. Not all the dominoes need fall for the chain to stagger to a stop.
  • The Costs of Print. From Michael Clarke, this important rumination on the financial costs of print is ultimately more about the psychological, strategic, and philosophical burdens our print heritage place on us.
  • Taxpayer OA Is Already Here, In Principle — In Reports. In a post I wish we’d had years ago, David Wojick reminds us that the government has research reports it can (and does) post for public consumption, asking the implicit question, “What’s the problem again?”
  • Challenging the Access Crisis. We’ve been hearing for years that subscription publishers unnecessarily restrain access, yet studies find that access to the literature has improved steadily over the years — open access, free access (with and without embargo periods beforehand), institutional repositories, deep archives, search engines, free access to developing nations. An important touchstone as we clarify exactly what’s going on and how that compares to rhetorical posturing by some.
  • Are Open Access and Traditional Publishers in the Same Business? Inspired by a comment from David Wojick, this post has only become clearer with the passing months — there is no zero-sum game yet between subscription and OA publishers, a major sign that they’re performing different services and aren’t competitive. This would be a major shift in the landscape if generally accepted. It certainly hasn’t been persuasively disputed.
  • The Stubborn Persistence of the Subscription Model. Sometimes, things feel like they can be dismissed with the wave of a hand. This post by Joe Esposito nicely describes the continuing value and appeal of the subscription model — for everyone involved.
  • What Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) Does and Doesn’t Mean: An FAQ. Patron-driven acquisition was a big topic in the Kitchen this year, and this FAQ from Rick Anderson provides a solid foundation for an important ongoing discussion.
  • Measuring the Wrong Things — Has the Scientific Method Been Compromised by Careerism? The cynicism of scientific publishing at times troubles me, and it seems to be increasing — so much so that not only are publishers drifting into becoming mere facilitators but authors and institutions are becoming culpable in the creation of a reputation bubble.
  • Is Peer Review a Coin Toss? From Tim Vines, this post accurately captures a mindset among authors as they parse acceptance rates as part of a risk assessment about the submission process rather than as a chance to reflect on the quality of their own work.

So, thank you Chefs for another wonderful year, and thanks to the readers for sharing our ruminations, updates, and discussions — and for adding hundreds of enlightening, interesting, and edifying comments.

See you in 2012!

Enhanced by Zemanta
Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.