A decidedly odd thing we do in academic publishing

I’ve been reading a book called Space, Place and Inclusive Learning. The title is slightly misleading, as most of the chapters are about initial education in schools and universities, but the book is an interesting illustration of how concepts of space and place are helping to inform educational research.

It is a sign of our digital times that the ten chapters originally appeared as a special double issue of a journal. Nothing wrong with that: one consequence of digitisation is that you can produce the same material in different formats for little extra cost, and presumably the publisher is hoping to sell a few more copies of the journal by repackaging it as a ‘book’, while editors and authors get to add an extra output to their CVs.

But here’s the thing. Right at the start of the ‘book’ are two pages asking readers who cite the chapters to ‘use the original page numbering for each article’, along with the standard referencing for the original journal. My guess is that this is about bibliometrics: it may be convenient for your career to get two separate publications from the same paper, but it is decidedly inconvenient if the result is to split the citations between them and thus reduce the impact ranking of your work.

I suspect that most readers who cite the material will please themselves as to how they reference the chapters. But in a digital world of academic publishing, it is ironic that anyone should try to control how other academics cite their work. In the case of this ‘book’, it is doubly ironic in that its central theme is to do with space and place – and triply ironic in that there isn’t a chapter on the digital spaces of online learning.

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