<agu> editorial board list opening

Ned Rossiter ned at nedrossiter.org
Tue Dec 23 06:49:35 CET 2008

Scanning through the editorial board members, I see impressive names  
situated for the most part within university settings (some even in  
very prestigious institutions).  Non-university affiliated board  
members that I recognise are renowned for their symbolic power within  
the institution of activism. Like many journals, the list of  
editorial board members lends a discursive/symbolic/institutional  
legitimacy to the journal.  One of the key mechanisms through which  
such legitimacy is obtained for individual board members, which then  
flows over to the edu-factory journal, is blind peer review. Herein  
lies a contradiction between the assembly of authority registered in  
the list of editorial members and the journal's desire to 'to invent  
a new system of review that opens conflict over the meanings and  
hierarchies established by the usual system'.  The edu-collective's  
reference to 'scientific articles' further signals this condition of  
contradiction and problematic of translation.

My experience with new systems of review is that they might be  
situated within national academic systems/frames that do not  
translate terribly well into a global / universal context -- e.g. an  
open review process on a mailing list might work in one national  
context that requires 'conference proceedings' to be peer reviewed,  
but does not specify they are blind peer reviewed; this then enables  
mostly academic contributors to get their brownie points while  
allowing a new form -- a hack -- to proceed on the other.  Such forms  
of 'open review'/intervention are fine if the majority of  
contributors within a particular national setting are able to claim  
their texts as legitimate academic publications (and in so doing,  
shore up protection of their academic positions and livelihoods), but  
it's a pain in the arse for those academics not able to claim the  
publication as 'legitimate' (and also the editors who have to put up  
with repeated emails requesting clarification, support,  
verification,etc.) Such tensions in translation underscore part of  
the interests, as I see them, of this new journal. But I don't think  
it's in the interests of the journal to have an uneven process of  
review, however it's done.

As for quality control -- open reviewing does not, in my experience,  
result in particularly strong critique. There's a tendency for  
reviewers to be excessively polite and critically timid - most likely  
because their cover is blown - or to treat the review with as much  
attention as a regular pithy reply to an email.  On the whole, I'd  
have to say that the more scholarly/academic texts I've written or co- 
written have improved considerably when they've been subject to  
strong critique. But I would distinguish two forms of critique here:  
critique on mailing lists has proved enormously helpful to the  
process of producing a text, but it has tended to be blind review  
that has provided the deep critique of a 'final version' that has  
then lifted the text to another level of 'completion'.

So, I'd be inclined to run a kind of dual or parallel system --  
encourage potential journal contributors to post drafts to the list  
for initial critique & open lines of debate, formation &  
investigation for the network, then subject final texts to blind  
review.  An 'open' system of publishing texts without blind review  
could work through the format of the 'shorter reports'/political  
commentary suggested in the 'three-fold structure'.

There are a number of examples of open content publishing that adopt  
blind review and publish excellent work: ephemera, culture-machine,  
fibreculture journal. All of these journals, in my view, could  
benefit from a more 2.0 style of publishing, where a continuum of  
feedback flows back into constitution of their networks.

At the level of 'intervention', I think it's examples such as the  
journals listed above that challenge practices of publishing in  
higher-ed. There are other examples of publishing with no peer review  
-- the annual anthologies of Sarai come to mind -- that produce  
fascinating/interesting compilations of texts (some of which are  
previously published), but are largely considered thoroughly  
'outside' the 'usual system'. In other words, a publishing venture  
that seeks to disrupt the usual system needs to be partially  
recognised by the usual system, otherwise it is destined to remain on  
the 'outside' and is in danger of self-ghettoization and self- 
affirmation.  There is no 'conflict' without an adversary (though  
there is plenty of space for self-agonising).

I also think the edu-factory/journal needs to elaborate more clearly  
its predisposition toward conflictual constitution. These are terms  
that again are part of a self-referential intellectual/political  
idiom, and don't translate very well beyond those already  
participating in such practices/discourses -- i.e. the question of  
intervention reappears when the terms of engagement are not  
recognised by others.  Some kind of mission statement or glossary of  
terms (which could be interesting to collectively produce in an open  
fashion) might be useful here on the history and trajectories of  
conflictual constitution.


On 18 Dec 2008, at 19:08, info at edu-factory.org wrote:

> Dear all,
> Thanks for agreeing to participate in the editorial board of
> the new journal stemming from the edu-factory project. We
> have added you to this mailing list, which we hope to use to
> discuss the directions of the journal as well as the
> practical concerns involved in its production. Please let us
> know if you would prefer to communicate with the other
> members of the editorial board in another way.
> After a round of invitations sent to various participants of
> the edu-factory network, we have arrived at a provisional
> list of editorial board members:
> Marco Baravalle; Claudia Bernardi; Marc Bousquet; George
> Caffentzis; Simone Capra; Sandro Chignola; Anna Curcio;
> Alberto De Nicola; Paolo Do; Ludovica Fales; Silvia
> Federici; Gabriela Garcia; Ezequiel Gatto; Andrea Ghelfi;
> Gary Hall; Michael Hardt; Stefano Harney; Avinash Jha;
> Camillo Imperore; Augusto Illuminati; Gasper Kralj; Geert
> Lovink; Federico Marini; Randy Martin; Miguel Mellino;
> Sandro Mezzadra; Eli Meyerhoff; Brett Neilson; Aihwa Ong;
> Matteo Pasquinelli; Bojana Piskur; Carlos Prieto del Campo;
> Nirmal Puwar; Gerald Raunig; Gigi Roggero; Andrew Ross; Ned
> Rossiter; Davide Sacco; Ranabir Samaddar; Florian Scheinder;
> Jon Solomon; Tiziana Terranova; Carlo Vercellone; Xiang
> Biao.
> There are also a number of network participants who have
> agreed to be part of the wider scientific committee for the
> journal.
> At present discussion on this list will be confined to
> editorial board members only. If you have recently consulted
> the edu-factory website you will be aware that there has
> been quite a bit of activity in the network recently. Some
> of this has been associated with the publication of the
> edu-factory book in Italian and the ‘anomalous wave’
> movement against the Berlusconi government’s reforms to
> the Italian education system. But the scope of the
> edu-factory project has always been transnational. Part of
> the purpose of starting a journal is to reconfirm the
> project’s engagement with political concerns that extend
> beyond those of the ESC Social Center in Rome where
> edu-factory was begun. We are hoping you can contribute to
> this process of opening, which should eventually see a
> recomposition of the edu-factory collective. Other steps in
> this process will be the English language publication of the
> edu-factory book by Autonomedia in 2009, the participation
> of edu-factory in the Winter Camp event organized by the
> Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam (2-8 March 2009),
> and the reopening of the edu-factory mailing list.
> In this email we outline five issues on which we would like
> to seek your advice and ideas:
> 1.	Title of journal
> 2.	Structure
> 3.	Software
> 4.	Zero issue
> 5.	Quality control
> 1. There has already been some discussion in the edu-factory
> collective regarding the title of the journal. We thought it
> would be good to stick with a relatively neutral name that
> recalls the edu-factory project and to give a sense of the
> political orientation of the journal in the subtitle. The
> current proposal is:
> Edu-Notes: Universities, Conflicts, and the Production of
> Knowledge
> We invite your discussion of this title and welcome any
> suggestions you may have for alternative names for the
> journal.
> 2. We suggest a three fold structure for each issue of the
> journal:
> i)	Theoretical materials: these will be scientific articles
> of 5000-7000 words in length
> ii)	Political materials: these will be shorter reports
> analyzing conflicts in the production of knowledge and
> university transformations in various global contexts
> iii)	Book reviews: a reviews editor will be appointed to
> manage liaison between authors, publishers, and reviewers
> Please let us know what you think. We imagine that the
> journal would produce two issues a year, although some
> members of the editorial board have already suggested we
> should not follow the classical model of issues but have a
> rolling structure where materials are published as they
> become available.
> 3. We suggest to proceed with a web journal reserving the
> possibility to periodically publish some chosen
> contributions in a hard copy reader (the contacts
> established during the publication of the edu-factory book
> can prove useful in this regard). Clearly there needs to be
> some central management system to organize the process and
> avoid the generation of massive amounts of email. Perhaps
> some of you are able to make suggestions about open source
> software, servers, etc. that could be used for this purpose.
> We will need a CMS flexible enough to handle the review
> process we propose to discuss below.
> 4. To begin the journal we propose to proceed with the
> production of a zero issue to be published in the northern
> hemisphere summer of 2009. The suggested theme for this
> issue is ‘The Double Crisis of the University and the
> Financial System’. Please let us know if you have
> suggestions for people who could make contributions on this
> theme. We also welcome your input to the drafting of a call
> for papers.
> 5. Given the political orientation of the edu-factory
> project there has been rigorous debate about quality control
> for the journal. We propose to separate the issue of quality
> from the system of measure established through the
> conventional academic system of anonymous peer review. There
> have been a number of suggestions about how this might be
> achieved: from having a peer review system that is not
> anonymous to utilizing the edu-factory list. In any case,
> the journal should have a strong quality control system.
> This is an issue that open access publishing projects have
> handled in different ways. For us the challenge is to invent
> a new system of review that opens conflict over the meanings
> and hierarchies established by the usual system.
> We invite you to share your ideas about these matters with
> the other members of the editorial board on this list.
> Edu-factory collective
> _______________________________________________
> agu mailing list
> agu at listcultures.org
> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/agu_listcultures.org

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