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New Venue for Internet Scholarship to Be Hosted at Old Dominion University

A new international journal being hosted at Old Dominion University is tackling a paradox in traditional academic publishing.

D.E. Wittkower, chair of ODU's Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, created the Journal of Sociotechnical Critique to empower scholars in the humanities and social sciences studying new and emerging science and technology (NEST) to produce work that can advance the discipline, but not hurt their career progress.

Since the discipline is evolving rapidly, NEST scholars need to publish quickly if they feel their work can contribute to public debate, policy and implementation. But by publishing their work in more widely consumed venues - mass or social media, white papers or policy work, or even direct activism - scholars can actually hurt their chances of advancing.

Tenure and promotion processes in higher education almost never treat work that isn't published in peer-reviewed journals as traditional research activities. And peer-review, by design, is considerably slower.

So NEST scholars need to choose between maximizing impact on their objects of study through wider dissemination or publishing in peer-reviewed journals to help their careers but make their work less impactful.

"Therefore, we have created a model whereby research by scholars of NEST that takes place through public engagement, policy work and activist intervention can be retrospectively peer reviewed and published in an academic journal," Wittkower said. This will help the work count for researchers in tenure and promotion, without sacrificing impact on objects of study.

The Journal of Sociotechnical Critique is reviewing submissions for its first issue, positioned at the intersections of philosophy of technology, internet studies, library and environmental science and environmental ethics.

The journal is hosted through the ODU Digital Commons, an open-access institutional repository maintained by the University Libraries.

Wittkower, the journal's editor in chief, said the journal also provides a venue in Internet Studies that combines a theoretical orientation with open-access publication policies. The aims and scope of the journal include a call to action to break down traditional barriers to timely public consumption of important research.

"We hold that digital media and online culture call for new, agile social-critical theory that should be published quickly and without paywalls in order to ensure that high-quality research that takes place within swiftly changing technological landscapes is available while it is as relevant and lively as possible, to as many readers as possible," he said.

The journal accepts submissions of research articles, public scholarship and active research.

More information about the Journal of Sociotechnical Critique can be found at the ODU Digital Commons. The first edition of the journal will be published in late 2019 or early 2020.

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