Sociology of Technology

From: Ingemar Bohlin <>
Date: Fri, 9 Jul 2004 12:53:29 +0100

Hi Stevan,

Would you mind posting this note to the American Scientist discussion

An article which might be of interest to this forum has just appeared
in Social Studies of Science, a leading journal in the area of
Science and Technology Studies:

Ingemar Bohlin, Communication Regimes in Competition: The Current
Transition in Scholarly Communication Seen through the Lens of the
Sociology of Technology. Social Studies of Science 34, 2004, 365-91.


Recent advances in information technology have enabled new ways of
communicating research reports. A significant innovation in this area
is that of 'eprint' archives, online repositories in which
researchers make their papers freely available to their colleagues.
This practice, which is known as self-archiving, poses a serious
challenge to traditional academic journals. Publishers have responded
with several strategies for remodeling journals, in order to make
them more attractive to authors and readers. New services, products
and initiatives are constantly being launched in this market, and the
outcome of the present disruption is uncertain. This article employs
the SCOT methodology to analyse the current transformation in
scholarly communication. The analysis defines the functions long
served by academic publishing, examines the extent to which newly
introduced technologies fulfil those functions, and explains the
dynamics of the stabilisation process now under way. A key element of
the analysis is the principle of interpretative flexibility. In the
present case, interpretative flexibility brings into relief
disciplinary variation in the needs and interests of potential users.

Keywords: academic publishing, eprint archives, interpretative
flexibility, scholarly journals, self-archiving, social construction
of technology

Ingemar Bohlin
Theory of Science
Gothenburg University
P.O. Box 200
405 30 Gothenburg
Tel +46 31 773 44 74
Received on Fri Jul 09 2004 - 12:53:29 BST

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