There aren’t too many generations left today that don’t remember using computer technology to some degree in their childhood. From millennials on, digital technology has been so much a part of their daily lives that it is easily taken for granted. Any question pondered has an immediate answer simply by opening one’s phone and asking Google, Siri, or Alexa.
This digital phenomenon has been made possible in part by the predominance of academic publications become electronically sourced. Researchers today know that their work is going to be made available in digital format and they optimize their articles to ensure they’re easily found by web crawlers to reach their audience. But, although this ease of publication makes it simple for scholars to impact society and impart their knowledge to a greater readership, it also makes it convenient for those who might spread false information to do so at a great speed. To circumvent this problem, the idea of implementing interactive journal concepts prior to publication of an article has been suggested.
Forums for Disseminating Knowledge
Scholars today have a vast assortment of forums at their disposal to disseminate knowledge to their readers. The type of forum used typically depends on the scholar’s preference and the kind of article being shared, such as:
● Original research findings, containing all the aspects of a research article, including the hypothesis, background study, scientific methods, final outcome, the researcher’s interpretation of their results, and a discussion would normally be published through a journal or reputable open-access site
● Review articles in which the writer compiles a summary, analysis, and comparison of previous literature and identifies gaps or issues with the work reviewed would be published in a journal or open-access site
● Opinion-based, commentary, and perspective pieces in which the scholar reviews concepts or ideas in their field and critiques them are frequently published on less regimented sites, blogs, social media, university pages, or other informal forums
The medium the scholar uses to submit their work to their readers can be anywhere from heavily peer-reviewed and monitored to completely informal, with no layers of review between the scholar and the reader.
The Problem With Publishing Unreliable Information
When unreliable information is published on the internet, it’s often accessible immediately to anyone who can find it. Even deleting it doesn’t make it permanently gone if someone has already seen it. Like the childhood game of Telephone, one unreliable source can spread damage far beyond the initial reader.
Those who use electronic sources as their method of gaining information can’t always tell how reliable their new knowledge is, and some people spread the information without validating the legitimacy of it. Currently, there is no set framework or structure in place to police misinformation, although liability law is supposed to be the default option. With so many forums and ways to publish work, though, it’s nearly impossible to police every medium, and different types of publication sources have their own legal obstacles to get through, making liability law inadequate and woefully underrepresented.
To fully ensure unreliable information is not spread, users would have to self-regulate their choices, learn how to distinguish between reliable and untrustworthy sites, and check the validity of the data. For billions of people around the world, they don’t have the framework and background knowledge to be able to do this, so they rely on scholars to be trustworthy instead.
Interactive Journal Concepts
In an attempt to combat the sheer amount of false information spread on the internet, some scholars have approached the idea of interactive journals. This concept would be addressed as follows:
● The first step would be an interactive peer review in which there would be an opportunity for public discussion and feedback to the author. This ensures that the writer is less likely to plagiarize or be plagiarized and offers the chance for the scholar to back up their findings to prevent controversial arguments. It also reduces the number of mistakes that would be in the final publication.
● The last step would be to revise the paper based on the critiques offered in the interactive review. Through peer discussion and public commentary, the researcher can narrow down the otherwise ambiguous parts of their article, include further documentation where needed, and complete final revisions to clear up any mistakes.
With this monitored and legitimate review system, there would be less false information spread in journal publications.