“Dance Like Nobody's Watching”: The Mediated Shame of Academic Publishing
Amyluv's bookmarks 2017-12-17
"In 1987, Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh composed a set of lyrics for their country song, “Come from the Heart”, that have subsequently found a mass-audience afterlife in several internet memes: “You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money / Love like you’ll never get hurt / You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’ / It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work”. For academic scholarly communications, however, the well-known humorous Twitter persona of @NeinQuarterly (Eric Jarosinski) perhaps reformulated this best when he cynically wrote: “Tweet like nobody's reading. / Because: / They're not”. Indeed, in recent years the open-access movement has sought to broaden the potential audiences for scientific and scholarly publications by removing price and permission barriers for readers. This has often been rationalised through critiques of the limited readership of paywalled journal articles and expensive scholarly monographs that are disseminated only to academic libraries.2 In many ways, the goals of the open-access movement are noble in their quest to ensure that as many citizens of the world as possible can access and read high-quality research and scholarship. Yet, as Clark and Leigh knew just as well as Foucault, the belief that one might be being watched can trigger a shame reaction that inhibits practices, from dancing through to writing. In this chapter I examine a set of theoretical questions surrounding observation, readership, and openness for niche, esoteric research practices across a range of disciplines. These include: What behavioural changes might we expect to see in a world of mass readership? How does a new set of publics sit alongside emergent managerial practices at institutions focusing on public “impact”? And might there be a certain 'shame' that cuts both ways here: a shame at exposing our work to an imagined plurality of gazes that may misunderstand, misconstrue, or simply interpret the work differently to our authorial intentions, even while feeling ashamed at hiding our writings?"