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.

Call for Papers is up for O3S: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences

We hope you can join us!

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SocArXiv’s will host the inaugural O3S: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences symposium on October 26 and 27, 2017 at University of Maryland, College Park. The symposium will (a) highlight research that uses the tools and methods of open scholarship; (b) bring together researchers who work on problems of open access, publishing, and open scholarship; and (c) facilitate exchange of ideas on the development of SocArXiv.

The Call for Papers is now up, here, where you will also find information about our keynote speakers and the details for submitting your work. Registration information will is coming soon. We hope you can join us!

Save the date: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences, October 26-27

SocArXiv will host the inaugural O3S: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences symposium on October 26 and 27 at University of Maryland.

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October 26-27, 2017
University of Maryland, College Park

SocArXiv will host the inaugural O3S: Open Scholarship for the Social Sciences symposium on October 26 and 27, 2017 at University of Maryland, College Park. The symposium will (a) highlight research that uses the tools and methods of open scholarship; (b) bring together researchers who work on problems of open access, publishing, and open scholarship; and (c) facilitate exchange of ideas on the development of SocArXiv.

The symposium will feature two keynote speakers: Tressie McMillan Cottom, sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; and Jeffrey Spies, co-founder and chief technology officer at the Center for Open Science. Participants will also participate in panels and a workshop session on the future challenges and next steps for SocArXiv.

The O3S symposium will take place during Open Access Week, a global event raising awareness about the benefits of open access and inspiring wider participation in making open access a new norm in scholarship and research.

Check the symposium website and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for information and updates. The Call for Papers announcement and registration information will be coming soon!

The O3S symposium is generously sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Department of Sociology, the University Libraries at the University of Maryland, the Sloan Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation. 

SocArXiv goes to the American Sociological Association

See you at ASA! (And some updates on how you can get involved.)

We wrote previously to urge sociologists to upload their papers for the American Sociological Association conference. On the Scatterplot blog, steering committee member Dan Hirschman wrote to invite you to the annual blogger party, now including SocArXiv. It will be Sunday, August 21 from 4pm-7pm at The Pine Box Bar, 1600 Melrose Ave, in Seattle, and everyone is welcome.

At the party, or anywhere you see one, get a button! (with magnetic clips that won’t harm your clothes, and that you can stick to your fridge or filing cabinet later):

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And we have flyers, suitable for printing or sharing online (click to enlarge):

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Or in PDF format, in black-and-white or color.

Please share!

Meanwhile, a few brief updates:

  1. We have more than 300 papers in the archive already, from people using the temporary email upload service. Check them out at SocArXiv.org (and, of course, upload your own). They are from a wide variety of disciplines, including sociology, communications, law, political science, geography, and others.
  2. We expect the full site to launch this fall. It will have full search and discovery tools, an easy form for entering your own author information, subjects and tags, and tools for editing papers online.
  3. Our partners at the Center for Open Science are working with Google Scholar to get papers indexed by their service (they are currently discoverable by Google, but not Scholar), and with SHARE to allow setting up feeds and notifications for papers posted to the site.
  4. The paper server has welcomed two new partners, in psychology (PsyArXiv) and engineering (engrXiv). Don’t worry about our work being arbitrarily separated between disciplines, though, as it is easy to post papers to different sections in one easy upload (described here).
  5. We have much more work to do. We are organizing working groups in four areas to develop the site, its features, and governance model. Please email socarxiv@gmail.com if you are interested in contributing to the Outreach, Governance, Interface, or Reviewing groups.
  6. Finally, we are preparing a fundraising campaign, to include individual and institutional donors. If you (or your institution) would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to SocArXiv through the University of Maryland, visit: http://go.umd.edu/SocArXiv, or email.

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Sociologists: Where’s your paper?

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Thousands of sociologists are writing papers right now. As the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association approaches (August 20-23, Seattle) In the next month, many of them will perform an archaic ritual. They will send their paper to the discussant for their upcoming panel. The discussant will have the right to read and discuss any aspect of the paper at the conference — but not to share it with the public or other scholars.

Then, at the conference, the author will spend 15 or 20 minutes presenting some parts of the paper, and the discussant will verbally comment on it before an audience of 0 to 100 people, including at least a few people (the other panelists) with a demonstrated interest in the topic. Afterward, those who are interested may approach the author and ask for a copy of the paper.

The presentation is open to anyone — who happens to be physically in the room — and the paper is now “out there,” but in just about the least accessible form possible: a verbal presentation, with slides. This can all lead to good conversations and exchanges of information and insights. This conference presentation goes on everyone’s CV. The whole thing is “public” in the way that public was defined 100 years ago.

Of course, technology has changed this. People send the papers electronically now. Some share them with friends and colleagues. Some papers are already under review at peer-reviewed journals. And some are posted on personal websites or in institutional repositories. But the vast majority are not available outside the room of the conference.

Technology — and social organization — now allow us to improve on this process dramatically. That paper can be posted on an open-access paper server and shared much more widely (see instructions for SocArXiv here). Other panelists and colleagues who are attending the conference can read the paper before the session, maybe commenting, or deciding to attend the session and be part of the conversation. Other researchers can learn from the work and respond, too. Members of the actual public can see what’s going on and respond. In short, the research can come out of its shell.

ASA2016: Tag, share, build community

When you submit your paper at SocArXiv.org, you get a permanent URL. If you put this on your slides and handouts at the conference, interested readers get to your work immediately. Further, when you tag your paper with the ASA2016 tag (very simple instructions here), anyone can browse over and read it. Tag with your session number (tell your fellow panelists!) or a tag for your department, working group, or Twitter hashtag. Build your community, widen the circle, promote inclusivity, make your work matter more.

Worries

Here are some common concerns about posting conference papers, with responses:

What if the paper isn’t ready, or is wrong?

It is understood that these are usually not “final” versions of the paper. In fact, the conference rules require it, forbidding papers that have been “published prior to the meeting or accepted for publication before being submitted to organizers for consideration.” But you are already presenting it to the people who are most likely to see and care about its flaws: other researchers at the conference. Widening the circle may be worrying or intimidating, but that’s part of what you’re trying to do. We believe the benefits (to the researcher and public) outweigh the risks. Of course, if you have errors in the paper you want to find that out as soon as possible and get it right. Being wrong now is part of the normal workflow — being wrong later can be a major problem.

What if someone steals my ideas?

The program at the conference is good for stamping your work as your own. It’s a recognized form of notification for the academic community. But it doesn’t actually include the content of the paper. Posting the paper on a public server, time-stamped for all to see, is even better protection, especially for junior scholars. Of course, bad people can do bad things, but they probably are already. And with a public, citable version, at least you have the norms of the profession on your side if any dispute arises. As our Center for Open Science partner Jeff Spies pointed out, finding a like-minded scholar early in the process gets you a collaborator — finding them later gets you a competitor.

What if posting my paper discourages a journal from publishing it?

No respectable journal prohibits publishing papers that have been shared in working-paper form (and the ASA rule cited above doesn’t prohibit sharing in this form). The conference presentation is already public, it’s just public in a much less open and inclusive way. When you subsequently publish the paper, you can update the version on SocArXiv, and provide a link to the journal version. The link you receive with your submission is permanent and will always take people to the current version of the paper. (For specific journal policies, check out the RoMEO database.) And of course you can remove it from the archive if you choose.

Open is your friend

We have already written some more about why posting your paper to SocArXiv is a good idea, for you and your research, and the wider community. By using what (to the user) is pretty simply technology, we can make our work better, faster, and more engaging. We hope you will try it out.

At the conference, display the Where’s Your Paper? SocArXiv button to let people know you posted yours (or support those who did). And come to the 13th Annual ASA Blog Get-Together & SocArXiv Party: Sunday, Aug 21 from 4pm-7pm, at The Pine Box Bar (1600 Melrose Ave, Seattle).

The conversation gets better when someone says, “Where’s your paper?” and the answer is: “Here.”

The server is open now in a temporary, preliminary form. We want to hear from as many people as possible about what they need from an open archive. And we need people to get involved as moderators, reviewers, and volunteers to build the organization.