So you don’t want to be a normal journal any more?

I’ve noticed a pattern in which editorial terms become frustrated with being a normal journal. It might be the glacial pace of academic publishing, the sterile uniformity of journal formats or the mounting evidence that peer review often fails in the accelerated academy. It leads the editors to aspire to become something else… what concerns me about this is that there’s a normal way of transitioning away from being a normal journal. It involves non-standard article formats, creative outputs and rapid response articles. In practice it involves trying to turn the journal into something more like a blog or online magazine. Which raises the question of why persist with the journal at all? If we see journals as a publishing platform then we need to think carefully about what they enable and what they prevent. The types of use we can make of them can certainly be modified but they’re not a particularly flexible platform given the conventions which remain associated with them, their coupling with systems of research evaluation and the digital systems used to operate their workflows.

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