Evaluating otherwise: hierarchies and opportunities in publishing practices
This short paper responds to the provocations set out in Kirsi Pauliina Kallio’s recent editorial on ‘Subtle radical moves in scientific publishing’ and emerges out of my participation in a Fennia-organized panel at the 2017 Nordic Geographers’ Meeting where participants reflected on the challenges and opportunities of creating a more equitable and pluralistic international publishing environment. Given the dominance of English language publishing in international academic work and the broader geopolitics of knowledge production through which some contexts, approaches, and modes of knowledge are regularly devalued, I suggest that—to the extent that publishing outlets are evaluated or ranked—they should be evaluated and ranked, in part, based on their contribution to a pluralistically international academy. This revaluation could help shape the informal assessments made by scholars in the context of hiring, funding, and other key decisions. It could also be integrated into more formal channels, such as within the deliberations of the boards who produce publication rankings in, for example, Finland’s Publication Forum. Such a tactic need not preclude other work to contest rankings hierarchies and audit cultures as they advance the neoliberalization of academic work, but it does 1) suggest the importance of paying attention to what and how scholars value when we evaluate publishing outlets and 2) point toward the potential of critical and creative engagement with the range of processes (i.e. indexing, accrediting, measuring, ranking etc.) that surround and subsist within academic publishing.