Why your section of the American Sociological Association should open its paper award, and how we’ll help

Please propose this to your council or at your membership meeting this August in Montreal.

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We’ll get to the monetary incentives below, but first the pitch.

Academia has a lot of research awards. Awards can help bring attention to the best research, and give recognition to under-recognized scholars. On the other hand, they can also encourage petty competition and internal hierarchies. We at SocArXiv want to help more sociologists open up their scholarship, and we think we can do that while promoting some of what’s good about awards.

We know that working openly is better – better for our careers, better for our science, and better for the wider communities we hope to serve. But we also know there are obstacles, including these two.

1. The habit problem. It seems daunting, like doing more work just to help other people (a goal we all share, of course), which takes away from the singular focus we need to get jobs, get tenure, and earn the esteem of our peers and other important people.

2. The prestige problem. There are a lot of junk open journals that will “publish” anything for a buck. And many of the most prestigious journals aren’t open access. In fact, some people are afraid that if they share their work before it’s peer reviewed they will seem desperate, or like they’re not committed to the idea of peer review.

To overcome these obstacles, we have to make it easy to develop the habits of open scholarship, and we have to find ways to promote high quality work that is also open. Our small contribution to that end is Sociology Open Award Recognition (SOAR).

Here’s how it works.

If you are a section of the American Sociological Association, require that papers submitted for your award(s) be posted on SocArXiv before the award deadline. (In the case of already-published papers, these can be the latest version the author has permission to share.) How you promote the award is up to you, but we encourage you to ask authors to use a common hashtag when submitting, and then publishing a list of submitted papers on your website. Think of the buzz this will generate leading up to the conference, as your members proudly share their best work! Then, when you make the award, SocArXiv will reimburse up to $400 for the winner’s travel to the ASA meetings. Just send us a link to your award instructions page — we’ll help you promote it.

If you are an individual and your ASA section does not participate, but you are submitting a paper for their award, upload the paper to SocArXiv before the award submission deadline. If you win the award, let us know and we will give you $250. Again, we encourage, but do not require, that you let the world know you’re doing this.

We know that award rules vary. Some consider only peer-reviewed papers, some only those that have not yet been peer-reviewed and published. For papers that have not yet been published, you can post them on SocArXiv, and then when they are published add the DOI to the SocArXiv record and readers will be directed to the published version — while still having access to original for free. You can also post papers on SocArXiv that have already been published. (You should always check your author agreement or the Sherpa/ROMEO database to see what version, if any, you’re allowed to share). If your award requires the papers to be published already, and people want to submit papers from journals that aren’t friendly to preprint posting, you might not be able to participate as a section, but individual authors still can.

We hope that SOAR will help people, especially junior scholars, develop the habit of sharing their work earlier; and that it will help the leaders in the discipline to see the benefits of promoting openness through their institutional practices. All while drawing attention to award-winning scholars and their research.

If you’re holding an award competition, you’re probably trying to get the word out about the best research to as many interested people as possible. Openness can help. And if you’re an individual willing to share your paper with an award committee, it is ready to share with the public. If you’re willing to submit it for an award, you should be proud enough to promote it publicly. Draw attention to your work, get feedback, meet potential collaborators, make friends, influence people, and maybe win some money.

So if you are a section officer or member, please propose this to your council or at your membership meeting this August in Montreal. We’ll sponsor as many section awards as we can, but we might run out of money, so don’t delay! For more information, visit the SocArXiv Frequently Asked Questions page, or let us know if we can help.

Contact us at: socarxiv@gmail.com. Upload a paper now using the web interface; browse or search SocArXiv on OSF | Preprints. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates, Check out our YouTube videos; make a contribution through the University of Maryland.

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