Publishing on and off line – the academic questions
June 14, 2007
The tide is slowly turning in the mainstream media vs blogging debate. The trend is not unlike that which other industry sectors like music and journalism have experienced in the recent past. As blogging has shifted from the realm of quirky early adopters to a mainstream social networking force, the powers that be have also had to adapt their perspectives on the phenomena. This often results in a full circle shift from overt disapproval (it has no credibility, it is all about copyright infringement, it will pass, etc) to warm embrace. The story of a blog post about a scientific paper on how alcohol augments the antioxidant properties of fruit is a great illustration of this trend.
Over at Blogscholar there’s a great post about the impact social media is having on publishing in the academic world and how bloggers are pushing back against the somewhat restrictive copyright requirements of the formal academic publishing world. The short version is a PhD student wrote about an academic article, used charts from the article (appropriately credited), journal got stroppy, bloggers pushed back, PhD student reproduced the content in her own graphs, publisher backed down on legal action etc..Read the whole piece because it contains some great links to blogs discussing the wider issues.
In a second article on the same site there’s an even more interesting piece on the “dangers” of publishing academic work on social networking sites due to the fact that your material effectively belongs to those sites once it’s published, even when it’s removed and remains in the archives.
After three startling discussions with academics in the past week it is time to set the record straight about facebook and academic work. The level of naivity in the academic community about the business models behind “free” social networking tools represents a very real danger to the integrity of the publishing process. Blogscholar recommends never using facebook for any academic work (or any other activity for that matter) unless you are completely satisfied that there is no need for any of the data or discussions to be private AND you are satisfied to give up any claim to ownership over any of the intellectual property (words, images, documents, etc) you post on your facebook site or group. There is nothing private about anything you say or do on facebook and everything you post becomes the property of facebook to do with as they please.
These are both fascinating pieces and very relevant for any writer who wants to work across platforms. This issue came up in our workshop on blogging, podcasting and the arts on Tuesday and requires a lot more attention – how can you give stuff away and at the same time make sure that in sharing information you are not excluding the possibility of publishing opportunities in academic journals? In my own case I have made a decision not to publish any of my research findings in this space or online to ensure that my copyright is protected and to ensure future publishing opportunities in academic journals remain open to me.
I seem to remember Simon doing something on copyright in social networking spaces? If someone has a link to that post I’ll gladly update this entry and link to it.