“Valuing Plurality and Multidisciplinary Collaboration” is one of the core principles of RRBM. At Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ) and MIS Quarterly (MISQ), we endorse this principle (along with many others) and wondered what this principle could look like in practice at our journals. Beyond supporting interdisciplinary scholarship, how could we as journal editors encourage multidisciplinary conversations across our fields?
By sharing our journey, we hope we can inspire other journals to collaborate – as well as help us find ways to break down some of the barriers that make such collaborations difficult.
Foundations of Collaboration: Editors’ Perspective on RRBM’s Mission
We first met at an Editors’ session at the RRBM summit in 2021 where the topic was how journals could promote the RRBM mission. Most scholars agree that we should work across disciplinary boundaries to tackle major problems in the world. But what that looks like in practice is often much less clear. Individual scholars can do multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary work, and there are both opportunities and costs to doing so: higher visibility but fewer publications in a world that often rewards publishing fast and often. Schools and granting agencies encourage multidisciplinary work, but journals tend not to do so. Our journals generally operate within a discipline (with some notable exceptions).
A Vision Takes Shape: Crafting a Joint Initiative
Given this backdrop, RRBM, and Marc-David Seidel in particular, encouraged us to think about how journals could work better across disciplines. We were on board with the idea that creative collaboration is needed to solve interdisciplinary problem. We felt that MISQ and ASQ had complementary strengths when it came to talking about how technology is changing institutions and that we could make a stronger impact on the world if we did it together. ASQ had recently done a virtual special issue, curating past papers published in ASQ to highlight research on gender (and has since done a virtual special issue on RRBM notable papers published in ASQ). MISQ had a set of research curations, where scholars provided a primer on a particular research topic published in MISQ. As we discussed how we might organize a joint effort, Andrew brought up the 2001 essay written by Wanda Orlikowski and Steve Barley in MISQ that called for exactly this type of mutual learning. What if we asked Wanda and Steve to assess the progress they had called for in 2001 and to curate a collection of papers published in ASQ and MISQ that exemplified these efforts? Thankfully, they agreed. As they embarked on their review of the field and selection of articles (which they detail in their essay), we turned to how to publish and promote this effort.
Navigating Journal-specific Challenges in Collaboration
How could we actually do this together? We cannot just create a temporary journal called “ASQ-MISQ.” The journal structure and its associated resources and practices are well-established. How could we create a structure that goes beyond us? In making that decision, there were journal-specific differences in how to approach this collaboration. One of our journals wanted to get the legal team involved, which would have bogged down the process for many months. A policy committee needed to sign off. We have different style guidelines for our publications that ASQ’s managing editor Joan Freidman eventually helped reconcile. Some of the challenges to the structure we chose are visible in the citation to our curation:
- Barley, S. R., & Orlikowski, W. J. (2023). Technologies change, the charge remains the same. Administrative Science Quarterly & MIS Quarterly Research Curation.
Beyond DOI Dilemmas: Establishing a Unique Collection Identity
We created a joint title (which is great), but where would this collection be located? We quickly learned the technicalities of scientific publishing. First, we explored publishing the same editorial in both of our journals, simultaneously. However, a DOI is assigned to a unique piece of writing – the publishers did not want two DOIs for one introduction. We asked if it could be a single DOI. But if there were a single DOI, it would have to sit on one journal’s website or another – we could not use the same DOI for two publishers. That seemed to defeat the whole idea of a joint project. We were at a loss. Our eventual solution was not to have a DOI at all. We instead each published the curation on our own websites, and each journal uses a different URL to host the content. ASQ uses their URL in the citation https://journals.sagepub.com/topic/collections-asq/asq-technology_and_institutions/asq ; and MISQ uses their URL in the citation https://www.misqresearchcurations.org/asq-misq-curations.
Metrics vs. Collaboration: The Trade-offs of Unconventional Solutions
This is an imperfect solution. Because the name of the source (Administrative Science Quarterly & MIS Quarterly Research Curation) is not either of our names exactly, and because it doesn’t have a DOI, citations to this collection won’t come up in citations metrics of either journal. So we accepted a cost without a benefit – if we look at typical impact metrics. The authors of the curation, senior in the field, were not concerned that the lack of a DOI might make the effort not “count” at their institutions. More-junior scholars may feel differently.
In addition to the problem with metrics, the lack of a DOI makes it more difficult for this collection to be discovered, cited, and used. You do not find it when you search Google Scholar. It sits on both of our websites, but you have to know what to look for. When the collection was published, with an insightful essay by our illustrious editors, we pushed it out to our networks. Sent emails to our respective lists. Discussion boards. Social media. We saw the downloads of the 10 articles in the collection spike. Although we can’t look for Google citations to the essay by Barley and Orlikowski (it has one WOS reference in an editorial written by Andrew in MISQ), we hope the essay is being read as well.
Symposium Sparks: Amplifying Impact through Interactive Engagement
Wanting these authors and the collection to have an impact, we next organized an online symposium where the editors and all of the authors spoke about their work. Over 600 people showed up to the session. The articles spiked again. We decided not to record the session to encourage a free-flowing conversation, but we know this has consequences for the long-lasting impact of our efforts.
We are now writing this essay for the RRBM newsletter – both hoping it provides one more spike for the collection and hoping it encourages more cross-journal collaborations. In addition to hoping to increase the quality of conversations across our fields, we hope our efforts inspire others to find new (and better) ways of collaborating across journals. Maybe there are solutions that we did not discover. Maybe there are ways to encourage more flexibility in publishing going forward. We firmly believe that these types of multidisciplinary efforts are essential to a deep understanding of the complex problems in the world.
Inspiring Cross-Journal Collaborations: A Call to Redefine Publishing Practices
For those who might consider such efforts, learning more about each journal’s processes and efforts has had multiple positive spillover effects for our journals as well. It is also worth noting that it has been an absolute pleasure to work with each other, and finding a comrade in the generally solitary world of being an editor in chief has its own rewards.
Christine Beckman and Andrew Burton-Jones
Editors, Administrative Science Quarterly and MIS Quarterly