Interventions in scholarly communication: Design lessons from public health | First Monday
peter.suber's bookmarks 2023-08-29
Abstract: Many argue that swift and fundamental interventions in the system of scholarly communication are needed. However, there are substantial disagreements over the short- and long-term benefits of most proposed approaches to changing the practice of science communication, and the lack of systematic, empirically based research in this area makes these controversies difficult to resolve. We argue that experience within public health can be usefully applied to scholarly communication. Starting with the history of DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) application, we illustrate four ways complex human systems threaten reliable predictions and blunt ad-hoc interventions. We then show how these apply to interventions in scholarly publication – open access based on the article processing charge (APC), and preprints – to yield surprising results. Finally, we offer approaches to help guide the design of future interventions: identifying measures and outcomes, developing infrastructure, incorporating assessment, and contributing to theories of systemic change.