Journals as Repositories

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

I had a really good conversation yesterday with Cath Brooksbank and Sarah Morgan, who do training at EMBL-EBI in Hinxton. During the conversation we touched on CourseSource, a peer-reviewed journal in which people can publish undergraduate biology lessons—not studies of the lesson's effectiveness, but the lessons themselves.

This is a brilliant idea, and thinking about it has made me realize why I've never been excited about online lesson repositories. We already have repositories for the things academics do: they're called journals. And we have portals (or aggregators, or whatever you want to call them): they are things like PubMed. What we don't have is people putting things into the system in the first place. Growing a separate parallel system to do those things for lessons hasn't worked: as far as I can tell, most of what's uploaded to lesson repositories just sits there.

Ever since we published our lessons I've been wondering why journals like CourseSource aren't the norm. Academics invest a lot of time in creating teaching materials, just as they do with data and code: why aren't they trying to get as much recognition for their work on lessons as they now are for their work on the latter? Whatever the reason, I think peer review (pre-pub or post-pub, anonymous or not) is the obvious next step for our lessons, and I'm going to push for us to do this with the next version of our material.

Dialogue & Discussion

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