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These studies have looked at e-journals from the perspective of how they fit into the existing tenure and reward system for academics. This is an important, and often neglected, aspect of the way in which journal publication is embedded into the discipline of scholarship.
The work of Julene Butler has sought to address the related research questions of whether publication in electronic journals brings the expected rewards of research publication, and whether the electronic journal is a viable channel for formal scholarly communication. They are related because scholars will only publish electronically if they are rewarded in some way for doing so, and the viability of the channel is dependent on scholars choosing to publish.
Butler uses a sociology of science approach and operates from the assumption that
the reward processes which sociology has observed in traditional knowledge production processes must be operational in any new scholarly communication channel if that channel is to be adopted by members of the scholarly community [Butler, 1994, p. 59].
Butler's research has been reported in a number of different publications. [Butler, 1994] outlines her research methodology without presenting any specific results. [Butler, 1995b] and [Butler, 1995a] are (as indicated in the text of the latter) essentially identical and report the results of her survey distributed to 511 authors and members of editorial boards of ten e-journals in the science and social science disciplines. Seventy percent of the surveys were distributed electronically with the remaining 30 percent via surface mail. Her survey questions dealt with academic involvement and educational level of contributors, tenure status and academic rank, perceived benefits and disadvantages of electronic journals, feedback received and how electronic publication was perceived by their superiors.
A brief paper by Blaise Cronin and K. Overfeldt [Cronin and Overfelt, 1995] discusses a small survey of universities regarding their policies with respect to electronic publishing. Very little policy was supplied by these universities regarding refereed e-journals. A range of unsolicited comments indicated that there are inconsistencies in interpretation and practice, both within and across institutions.
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