Interviewing Academics about Publication Practice

I’ve finally reached that point in my research where I’m permitted to go and perform some more field work. #happydance It’s been a long time coming, while I’ve been wading through theory I thought I’d never get there – but I have.  So I’ve been reaching out to all the people I interviewed a year or two back to see if they’ve got any suggestions as to good local candidates who might talk to me.  Surprisingly quite a few of these folks have moved on/upwards which is nice, although it did mean that my in-box was shotgunned with auto-replies from dead email address when I sent the email out.  However, more than a few of my contacts have come back to me and graciously offered some suggestions.  Once I’ve got a good selection, it’s just up to me then to start knowing on some (electronic) doors.

In case any wandering academic passes this way I thought I’d spell out what I’m looking for in terms of potential interviews.  Two groups of people really.

Who am I looking for?

To contextualise the original scoping OA interviews I did a year or so back, it is necessary to revisit and explore further some of the issues with academics and other scholarly communication actors.  As before, I’ll be using a semi-structured interview format to allow for naturalistic and organic exploration of opinions and insights.  Additionally, a measure of case study work with selected activists would broaden the exploration of the OA publishing discourse.  Interview targets would likely include actors including academics, publishers, learned societies, funders and official bodies.

Chatting about publication practice

Firstly UK based academics to talk about their research publication practice (open, closed, traditional/legacy, experimental etc).  Knowledge of open access, isn’t a prerequisite; just a viewpoint about research publication from their own experience.  I’m especially keen to talk to those who might not have any strong opinions about recent developments in scholarly communication, but that’s not crucial.  From the list I’ve been supplied so far, there’s a lot of people noted as pro-OA, but I don’t want to bias the sample with just talking to them.  Hence, it’ll be a carefully selected group I’ll approach, since I’m only aiming to interview around 20 or so candidates.

Hence, if you’re a research academic and can spare me 10-15 minutes on the phone sometime in the next couple of months – drop me a line (gareth.johnson2012 [at], a tweet (@llordllama) or a comment below and I’ll be in touch.

Who else am I looking for?

On top of the academics I’m in the process of making approaches to some of the other actors in the scholarly communication field.  I anticipate these will be harder to obtain interviews with, simply because I don’t know people working these areas that well so rather than being able to go via a managed introduction with local staff, I’ll be using email shots to try and garner a few of these.  I’ve a target list of contacts I’ll be working through in the next few days, so wish me luck!  If anyone has any suggested contacts here, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

Anyone else?

Yes, I’ve a short list of a few publication icons (my term, not their’s) I’m approaching for slightly longer interviews.  I anticipate these might be tricky to pin down, but will hopefully manage to engage with 2 or 3 of these.  They’re mostly people I’ve identified from past experience, the literature and the discourse around OA.  It’s going to be an uneven set, but I anticipate they’ll be able to contribute a variety of fascinating context to my work.


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