Common Ground encourages the widest range of journal submissions and aims to foster the highest standards in intellectual excellence in our journal publishing program. We are highly critical of the serious deficiencies in today’s journal system—deficiencies which go to the very heart of our knowledge ecologies—see Cope and Kalantzis’ article in First Monday and the edited collection on The Future of the Academic Journal. See also: Cope and Kalantzis, ‘Evaluating Webs of Knowledge: A Critical Examination of the “Impact Factor”’.
To address these problems, we have for over ten years been building web-based publishing software. The third and most recent iteration of this project is the pathbreaking social knowledge environment, Scholar. The theoretical and practical foundations of this work are outlined in the book, Connecting Knowledge in Academic Research: Towards a Semantic Web.
These are the objectives of our journals program:
Common Ground’s approach to peer review is open and inclusive, but based on the most rigorous and merit-based ‘blind’ peer review process. Our referee process is criterion-referenced, and referees are selected on the basis of subject matter and disciplinary expertise. Ranking is based on clearly articulated criteria. The result is a refereeing process that is scrupulously fair in its assessments. At the same time, the process offers a carefully structured and constructive contribution to the shape of the published paper.
The result of our peer-review process is a publishing method which is without prejudice to institutional affiliation, stage in career, national origins, or disciplinary perspective. If the paper is excellent, and has been systematically and independently assessed as such, it will be published. This is why Common Ground journals have such a vast amount of exciting new material. Much of the content originates from well known research institutions, but a considerable amount of material comes from brilliantly insightful and innovative academics in lesser known institutions in the developing world, emerging researchers, people working in hard-to-classify interdisciplinary spaces, and researchers in liberal arts colleges and teaching universities. In recognition of the highest levels of excellence, an international prize is awarded annually for the top-ranked paper in each journal.
Common Ground is developing a low-cost commercial approach to academic publishing. We believe there are limitations in both the high-cost commercial publishing and the seemingly no-cost open access publishing models. This is why we are seeking to find a practical middle way between the idealism of open access and the inefficiencies and greed of which the big journal publishers are increasingly accused. The idealism of open access often creates new problems, leaving academics in the often less-than-happy role of amateur publisher. And ironically, open access journals and discipline repositories sometimes give insider networks even greater control over what gets published than was traditionally the case with the big commercial publishers.
Common Ground journals are highly accessible on the web. They are not hidden behind subscription walls. Every article has its own page; and every author has their own self-maintainable website, which includes any articles and books they have published with Common Ground, a blog, and places to paste their bionote, photo, and CV. We have modest tiered subscription charges for libraries and a small per-article charge for electronic access by non-subscribers. Conference participants are granted free electronic access to the corresponding journal for a year. Our journals are also available in hardcover print editions and through EBSCO.