With the ability to get information anywhere in the world in seconds, and the virtually immediate obsolescence of any printed work, why are journals such an important part of academic research?
This question, under the heading “Are Academic Journals Obsolete?” was posted yesterday on Ask Slashdot. As you might expect, the comments are wide ranging and interesting.
When page layout software was first introduced and do-it-yourself desktop publishing became popular, many people wondered if publishers would become obsolete. Now, twenty years later, we have blogs, newsfeeds, and even better DIY publishing tools like blurb.com. Anyone can publish anything and reach a wider audience than ever before. And publishers still exist.
The arguments about whether academic journals are obsolete is a long and complex one, and you’ll see a wide range of opinions on this and other questions like it. Perhaps the print journal is a vanishing breed, for many of the reasons stated in the Slashdot posting. But much of the value, such as peer review, that academic publishers bring to their work is still very valid. Either way, until the systems for academic tenure and funding change, the academic journal in print or web-based form is unlikely to vanish.