Open and networked initiatives and the digital transformation of academic publishing in China

Ren, Xiang (2013) Open and networked initiatives and the digital transformation of academic publishing in China. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Many aspects of China's academic publishing system differ from the systems found in liberal market based economies of the United States, Western Europe and Australia. A high level of government intervention in both the publishing industry and academia and the challenges associated with attempting to make a transition from a centrally controlled towards a more market based publishing industry are two notable differences; however, as in other countries, academic communities and publishers are being transformed by digital technologies. This research explores the complex yet dynamic digital transformation of academic publishing in China, with a specific focus of the open and networked initiatives inspired by Web 2.0 and social media. The thesis draws on two case studies: Science Paper Online, a government-operated online preprint platform and open access mandate; and New Science, a social reference management website operated by a group of young PhD students. Its analysis of the innovations, business models, operating strategies, influences, and difficulties faced by these two initiatives highlights important characteristics and trends in digital publishing experiments in China.

The central argument of this thesis is that the open and collaborative possibilities of Web 2.0 inspired initiatives are emerging outside the established journal and monograph publishing system in China, introducing innovative and somewhat disruptive approaches to the certification, communication and commercial exploitation of knowledge. Moreover, emerging publishing models are enabling and encouraging a new system of practising and communicating science in China, putting into practice some elements of the Open Science ethos. There is evidence of both disruptive change to old publishing structures and the adaptive modification of emergent replacements in the Chinese practice. As such, the transformation from traditional to digital and interactive modes of publishing, involves both competition and convergence between new and old publishers, as well as dynamics of co-evolution involving new technologies, business models, social norms, and government reform agendas.

One key concern driving this work is whether there are new opportunities and new models for academic publishing in the Web 2.0 age and social media environment, which might allow the basic functions of communication and certification to be achieved more effectively. This thesis enriches existing knowledge of open and networked transformations of scholarly publishing by adding a Chinese story. Although the development of open and networked publishing platforms in China remains in its infancy, the lessons provided by this research are relevant to practitioners and stakeholders interested in understanding the transformative dynamics of networked technologies for publishing and advocating open access in practice, not only in China, but also internationally.

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ID Code: 63337
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hartley, John, Montgomery, Lucy, Cochrane, Tom, Cunningham, Stuart, & Potts, Jason
Additional Information: Recipient of 2013 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award.
Keywords: academic publishing, China, open access, digital, social media, preprints, open science, convergence, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Oct 2013 04:53
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2017 14:43

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