TEXT Volume 17 No 2 October 2013

 

Editorial


Open access journals and hoax academic discourse

 

We are proud to say that TEXT is an open access journal – i.e. available to all online and not hidden behind expensive pay-walls or any ‘pay-for’ publishing enterprise. There are no publishing fees for our contributors: work done by TEXT editors is claimed as academic service in their universities. And there are no refereeing fees – in each issue we openly print the names of the referees: they undertake their double-blind peer-reviewing as academic service.  

But the term ‘open access journal’ has been brought into disrepute because many online journals are the products of pay-for academic publishing. They are run by what Jeffrey Beall calls ‘Predatory Open-Access Publishers’ (Beall 2012). Beall (a librarian at University of Colorado, Denver) monitors ‘pseudo’ academic journals and identifies them on his website.

Currently Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2013 includes 368 academic online journals, see http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/12/06/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2013. Beall publishes his criteria for recognition of a pseudo-journal at http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/11/30/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers-2nd-edition/.

Of course, TEXT is not on Beall’s list, but Textroad is. The Textroad group of journals includes the latest October 2013 edition of the Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences (JAEBS) at http://www.textroad.com/JAEBS-October,%202013.html

The first article in the issue has the title, ‘Calibrating Net Solar Radiation of FAO56 Penman-Monteith Method to Estimate Reference Evapotranspiration’. And the last article (170 pages later) is called, ‘The Comparison of Performance among Female and Male Principals in High Schools at Training and Educational Organization in Tehran City’.

The internet is a wonderful thing, and TEXT has made good use of it. But it is a field where old academic integrity rules don’t necessarily apply. The internet opened up pathways for emerging and unorthodox views, but also it opened up possibilities for hoax academic discourse.  

This month another Alan Sokal-style sting was performed on the academic journals community. In 1996 Alan Sokal (a physics professor at a New York University) made cultural studies look silly by having a hoax article accepted for the paper journal Social Text (the article was called ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’). In 2013, Science magazine operative John Bohannon has performed a similar attack on open access online journals, many of them science journals.

Bohannon’s account of perpetrating his hoax – he sent out an article described by Science as ‘a spoof’ – created a stir by showing how the academically un-publishable can get published widely even under supposedly strict refereeing conditions. Bohannon says:

The goal was to create a credible but mundane scientific paper, one with such grave errors that a competent peer reviewer should easily identify it as flawed and unpublishable… By the time Science went to press, 157 of the journals had accepted the paper and 98 had rejected it. Of the remaining 49 journals, 29 seem to be derelict: websites abandoned by their creators. Editors from the other 20 had e-mailed the fictitious corresponding authors stating that the paper was still under review…. Acceptance took 40 days on average, compared to 24 days to elicit a rejection… Of the 255 papers that underwent the entire editing process to acceptance or rejection, about 60% of the final decisions occurred with no sign of peer review… (Bohannon 2013)

Bohannon’s escapade has been praised and criticised. Among the critics, some say his exposé goes no further than does Beall’s List, and that anyone sending work to pseudo-journals most likely knows already the lack of rigour applied in  their refereeing processes.

TEXT editing and refereeing is so embedded in its community of practice – in the discourse created by its AAWP membership and its robust reflection of national and international agendas – it is unlikely to be the successful subject of a Bohannon-style attack. In any case, creative and professional writers, as referees, should be the first to discern the fake in other writers.

In this issue and its accompanying special issues, 97 refereed works are published. They come from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. The 150 referees who assisted come from the same global spread. TEXT will attempt not to sully the concept of the open access academic journal for as long as it can.

 

TEXT Volume 17, Number 2

Once again, our writers roll up their intellectual sleeves and get down to the hard classroom questions. Susan Taylor Suchy (The social media marketplace in the ‘quaint’ creative writing classroom: Our terms for engagement) asks how the still quaint and mostly low-tech creative-writing classroom might connect with, relate to, or exploit the new social media, interactive gaming, blogs, wiki poems and all that the ‘Google generation’ (Diane Donnelly’s delicious phrase) are so into. Susan Taylor Suchy asks the tricky question of how the creative part of creative writing and the market place find each other, and how the classroom might make deeper contact with students through the incorporation of social media into what the students are asked to do. If the internet does not exactly provide an instant marketplace, it can provide anyone a public presence.

Louise Tondeur (A search for a creative pedagogy: How research can inform teaching practice in creative writing) follows the strong recent trend of bringing cognitive psychology-based education theory to bear on what we do and can do in the classroom as creative writing teachers. The idea of learning styles took hold in the 1970s with David Kolb, became outmoded, and was much refined in the 1990s by Robert Sternberg, and given Sternberg’s lifelong interest in creativity, it is time for the creative writing classroom to begin to play with these ideas. Louise Tondeur’s sensible guidance through a labyrinth of theory on learning styles and the related notion of surface and deep learning, and the choices this leaves in the classroom is timely, and encourages both teachers and students to continue to be reflective and observant about what it means to teach students to write creatively.

Turning to the problem of the writer facing the page, Tony Williams (Iterations: Days, walks, episodes, chapters, scene) takes us on an entirely different kind of stroll as he walks his dog along roughly the same route each evening, asking, ‘What analogies can we draw between the iterative walk and the iterative literary unit, such as the chapter, section or stanza? And, just as our knowledge of a landscape deepens and increases when we move through it repeatedly, how can literary texts manage the reader’s experience by providing iterations of theme and event, rather than simply a single chronological series of events?’ This is a beautifully imagined and beautifully imaginative speculation on the power and necessity of iteration to creation. Reading, writing and experience are indeed all divided into units.

Continuing with the writer facing not just the page, but their own unconscious, Filipa Bellette (Interrogating whiteness: A precarious cross-cultural/racial creative writing PhD journey) takes on the difficult terrain of racial and cultural difference, one that rightly must preoccupy a modern nation such as Australia, founded as it is on waves of transportation and migration. The honesty and intelligence applied to her own experiences here makes for a compelling read and a compelling argument.

Dave Drayton (Staying alive: Contemporary English application of biji) examines an ancient Chinese literary form and inquires in a remarkably scholarly overview whether modern writers can overcome historical, linguistic and cultural barriers to put the form to meaningful use, and in any real sense claim to be keeping it alive. The questions asked here are often at the heart of what it means to enter into the traditions of writing creatively.

Michael Sala (Confession and third party revelation in memoir: The narrator, the confessant, and textual strategies for decentring the memoirist’s authority) takes us into the matter of the memoir, a form of writing, a form of discourse, a form of confession that has become common for creative PhD projects. Michael Sala uses memoirs by Rousseau and Eggers, and commentary by Coetzee, to approach questions of self-reflexiveness, authority and the reader’s position in relation to a memoirist’s confessions. This article offers sensitive and dexterous readings of Rousseau and Eggers, and finally deeply instructive observations on the writing of confession.

On the other side of the ledger, what might it be like to be in a writing class with Christopher Koch, particularly when he exposes the class to Aristotle’s Poetics? Desmond Barry (Wrestling with Aristotle) sees Poetics as a source of inspiration and tension as he makes forays into writing his novel. Glancingly David Mamet brings his experience to bear on how a novel might be structured. Then Peter Carey is the leader of a workshop group. This is the barest outline of the panoply of teachers and the challenges Desmond Barry set for himself. It is compelling reading to be a voyeur to Desmond Barry’s experience.

Holly Ringland’s Nested dolls: ‘Inner storytelling’ and the creative writing process is not set in the hallowed classrooms of civilised New York universities. As a white ranger in the Australian Central Desert, Ringland experienced the overwhelming reality of the 2007 Northern Territory Intervention and a hidden abusive relationship. In this memoir/dissertation she gives a moving account of five years of trauma, during which she ‘rediscovered creative writing and through writing fiction began to edit [her] “inner storytelling” … learning to “draw positive meaning” … from traumatic experience’.

Finally we follow Melissa Ashley (Leaves of a diary: Searching for Elizabeth Gould in the archives of the Mitchell Library) as she goes into the archive, becomes a bird-watcher, and then a volunteer taxidermist, observes over 600 lithographs, as she imagines a memoir for Elizabeth Gould. This work shows a woman in history, once again, whose skills and contributions were obscured by the men around her, even those closest and most trusted. Melissa Ashley’s visceral encounter with the archives, the kind of imaginative, intelligent and necessarily speculative attention she has given to the art works and taxidermized birds she held in her hands makes for an absorbing account of how a fictional memoir might be ethically and powerfully constructed.

 

TEXT Special Issues 18-24

This issue of TEXT also includes a swag of special issues. So many, indeed, that the editorial team has been informally calling it the ‘grande’ issue of TEXT. It was certainly not intended for there to be so many special issues this month, but not only was the commissioning editor deluged with excellent EOIs for issues, a couple were scheduled for April and needed a little more time, and one was ready earlier than expected, and before we knew it, we had 7 special issues. Despite this number, we feel each is still very ‘special’, in its unique concentration on a themed topic that provides important research reading.

Special Issue 18, Nonfiction now, edited by David Carlin and Francesca Rendle-Short, presents a selection of papers specially selected and developed from the Bedell NonfictioNow Conference, held in Melbourne by RMIT in association with the he University of Iowa in November 2012.

Special Issue 19, Scriptwriting as creative writing research, edited by Dallas Baker and Debra Beattie, is a first for TEXT and indeed anywhere in the world, presenting a series of scripts with ERA-style research statements, and arguing why this specialized form of creative writing production can be viewed as research.

Special issue 20, Writing creates ecology: ecology creates writing, edited by Martin Harrison, Deborah Bird Rose, Lorraine Shannon and Kim Satchell, presents work by the Kangaloon: Creative Ecologies group of poets, scholars, artists and activists plus like-minded writers who explore the reciprocity between writing and ecology.

Special issue 21, Scores from another ground: writing in New Zealand, edited by Lisa Emerson and Gail Pittaway, represents a significant development in research and praxis in writing in New Zealand. It is the first time an international journal has commissioned a dedicated collection of essays about writing research, combined with creative works, from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Special Issue 22, Examination of doctoral degrees in creative arts: process, practice and standards, edited by Jen Webb, Donna Lee Brien and Sandra Burr, is the final outcome of an Office of Learning and Teaching funded project on this topic, and responding to the challenges faced by HDR supervisors, examiners and candidates in the creative arts in doctoral degree examination.

Special issue 23, Textbooks and educational texts in the 21st century: writing, publishing and reading, edited by Mike Horsley and Donna Lee Brien, presents a series of papers which explore this important area of writing and publishing that is often overlooked by those in the creative arts.

Special issue 24, Cookbooks: writing, reading and publishing culinary literature in Australasia, edited by Donna Lee Brien and Adele Wessell, provides a collection of work that, taken together, establishes cookbooks as a rich resource for not only Australasian culinary heritage, but its history and culture overall, and taps into the rich interest in writing, as well as reading, cookbooks.

We hope you will find these diverse special issues thought-provoking and stimulating of more research on these important topics. Putting together and refining these special issues has been an enormous labour (of love) for all those who have volunteered their involvement – the editors of each issue, all the contributing authors and the referees associated with each issue, as well as the TEXT editors. Special issues commissioning editor, Donna Lee Brien, would like to especially thank Dr Dallas Baker who has joined the Special issues team as Assistant editor from this issue and has been an enormous help in readying this group of papers for publication. Dr Rosemary Williamson assisted in this role last year, and TEXT is very appreciative of this assistance.

– Nigel Krauth, Kevin Brophy, Donna Lee Brien

 
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TEXT
Vol 17 No 2 October 2013
http://www.textjournal.com.au
General Editor: Nigel Krauth. Editors: Kevin Brophy & Enza Gandolfo
text@textjournal.com.au