Ziyad Marar on the creation of scholarly knowledge in the digital age

Open movements focus on the consumption of information but neglect to focus on its mode of production, writes Ziyad Marar in Debating Open Access, a new publication from the British Academy. In a world where increasing amounts of information and knowledge are available, what matters is the ability to create and attend to that which is good and relevant.

In the world of scholarly knowledge ‘good’ means not popular but authoritative. We must not lose sight of the values and mechanisms that sustain authority in favour of the blunt and measurable traffic of information as commodity. Some form of pre-selection and quality control of claimed new knowledge is therefore required and this is what publishers of journals and books provide.

Selection mechanisms necessarily differ from discipline to discipline because scholarly knowledge is not homogeneous and the routes to it are various.

Knowledge in HSS is more closely linked to the individuals who have produced it than in the large team-based projects of the natural sciences. Early career authors need to build their reputations and thereby their claims to authority; publishers have a crucial role to play in this process.

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Ziyad Marar was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1966. He lived in the Middle East until the age of 10 before moving to London. He holds a BSc in psychology (Exeter University), an MA in the philosophy and psychology of language, and did several years of postgraduate research in this field (University of London). He is Global Publishing Director of one the world’s leading independent academic and professional publishers, SAGE. Having joined SAGE in 1989, Ziyad has worked across all aspects of publishing. During his career he has built international programmes in psychology and politics across journals, reference books, textbooks and online products. He was appointed Editorial Director in 1997, Deputy Managing Director in 2006, and took on his current global role in 2010, in which he has responsibility for the overall strategic direction of SAGE’s publishing. In recent years at SAGE Ziyad has also focused on supporting the Social Sciences more generally by working with many learned societies and key organizations such as the British Academy. Alongside extensive use of social media such as socialsciencespace and socialsciencebites, he has spoken and written on this theme in various international contexts. Ziyad is also the author of three books combining his interests in psychology and philosophy, The Happiness Paradox (Reaction, 2003), Deception (Acumen, 2008) and most recently Intimacy: Understanding the Subtle Power of Human Connection (Acumen, 2012). He lives in London with his wife and three daughters. He can be followed on Twitter: @ZiyadMarar

Read more about Debating Open Access, a collection of a series of 8 reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for humanities and social sciences open access publishing practices.

British Academy

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for their distinction in research and publication. Our purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

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