Monday, June 8, 2015

The Value of Applied Research and Alternative Publishing

Ask a crusty old academic and he/she will tell you that unless research is in a peer-reviewed journal it has no value and should be discarded as “junkwork. In contrast, talk to a seasoned CEO and he/she will tell you that if university research has any value in the market it will need to be applied to solve business problems. This divergence of thought and perspective is changing the way universities and corporations disseminate and use information.

There are some academic traditions that unnecessarily restrict the value of education and hinder the growth of the business community. Corporations are end users of information that apply research build products, enhance services, and improve operations. Failure to see the value of alternative methods of conducting, publishing, and using research beyond elitist journals defeats the purpose of academic studies.

CEO’s, executives, and consultants rely heavily on information to make strategic decisions. They obtain ideas   online, databases, libraries, magazines and personal knowledge. Few have direct access to university libraries and expensive subscription journals. When was the last time you saw a copy of a scientific journal on a CEO’s desk?

Assuming that the CEO understood academic jargon, it is still doubtful the company would be willing to pay the costs associated with high-end academic journals. There is a growing crisis where academic knowledge is becoming restrictive and inflexible reducing the amount of potential users (Stemper & Williams, 2006). Most businesses won’t have access to groundbreaking research until it is widely available in the market.

The value of research is not based on the quality of the journal, but a number of times the research is used and applied to problems. It is possible that university research agendas include pushing for business application and measuring a number of times it has been quoted by others (“Applying Research”, 2004). Companies are willing to support universities that create useful informational products.

Improving innovation in business relies on ensuring that the information from academic research is making its way into industry. Reducing bottlenecks and restrictions improves information flow, and increases the likelihood it will reach intended audiences. Open-access journals and alternative publication sources create a more direct connection to industry and should not be discarded based on tradition. The value of academic research is in its usefulness and its ability to enhance industry innovation versus the type of journal it originated. 

Stemper, J. & Williams, K. (2006). Scholarly communication: turning crisis into opportunity. College & Research Libraries, 67 (11). 

“Applying Research”. (2004). Applying research and building value: business faculty at work. Georgia Trend, 20 (3).

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