“The first page is a cover letter that states that the findings reported are original, contribute to the broad body of knowledge in public relations, and have not been published previously.” — Journal of Public Relations Research.
Many journals have similar cover letter requirements. The question of discussing my own research and my colleagues’ papers from conference presentations has been on my mind and in my blogging queue for some time. Would I disqualify my work or my colleagues’ work from journal publication by discussing it on my blog? Can I video record my conference presentations and place them on YouTube without disqualifying the studies?
Last November, I contacted Concetta Seminara from Routledge, the publisher of Journal of Public Relations Research and the International Journal of Strategic Communication, to ask for her opinion. She replied on Nov. 7 with the following e-mail.
Dear Prof. Gallicano:
I contacted our permissions coordinator for his experience with this type of question before responding. As the publisher of JPRR, Routledge’s first question would be “are these conference papers not yet published?” If they are not, then we do not think that it would preclude us from publishing the papers at a later date (since we would still receive a signed transfer of copyright form from the author), unless the blogger somehow tried to claim copyright on the transmitted material.
If the papers are already published, then it’s within the author’s rights to present them at a conference. The question becomes what the conference attendees are entitled to do with that presentation.
In many ways, the blogging in question is similar to “press coverage” of breakthrough research, which could fall under the realm of free speech. As long as the blogger would not try to CLAIM COPYRIGHT of the original material or post the full text of the paper online, then this act would not be seen as harmful aside from promoting the research and the journal.
In my reply to Concetta, I wrote
Thank you for your quick response! I want to make sure that I understand you correctly. For the case of a conference paper that has not yet been published in Journal of Public Relations Research
- Is it okay to write a blog post about part of the results before the entire paper is published in the journal, as long as no copyright is claimed?
- Is the answer to the previous question the same, regardless of whether we are talking about our own paper or someone else’s paper?
- Is it okay to post a video of our own or someone else’s conference paper presentation before the article is published in the journal?
We would reply “yes” to your first two questions per our previous discussion on this subject. Regarding the video posting question, again, we don’t think we can stop someone from doing this if we currently don’t have copyright on the paper. However, if the author first copyrights the video, that action might prevent us from freely publishing the article at a later date without first getting a transfer of copyright.
It sounds like we have the green light from the Journal of Public Relations Research and the International Journal of Strategic Communication to blog about our results online, in addition to posting a video of our conference presentation on YouTube, as long as we don’t claim copyright or post the entire paper online. Who knows if other publishers will be as flexible as Routledge.
I e-mailed Daniel Riffe, editor of Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. He offered the following comments on the issue:
Like most organizations/publications that copyright material (AEJMC owns copyright for articles in Quarterly), and like most scholarly journals, we assume something submitted to us is not under simultaneous consideration for publication elsewhere, nor has it been published elsewhere.
From what I gather, mentioning the results of a study (e.g., 55% of folks surveyed in Ohio favor regulation) in a blog post doesn’t constitute prior publication. It’s more like an observation made in casual conversation.
Putting a full manuscript up online, though, would arguably be prior publication.
I invite you to participate in the polls below about publishing your results on a blog and on YouTube prior to journal publication.
I also invite you to share your thoughts in the comments area. Do you feel ready to take the leap by posting results online prior to journal publication? Do have concerns about the erosion of blind peer review?