conflict & communication online, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2011
ISSN 1618-0747







With the present issue, conflict & communication online begins its tenth year of publication. What did we want to initiate with the journal, and what have we actually accomplished in the years since 2002?
Four factors were decisive in beginning the journal: (1) the lack of a refereed and trans-disciplinary peace-science journal published in the German-speaking world, (2) the desire to make a contribution to the democratization of science, (3) dissatisfaction with the publication format of most mainstream journals and (4) the endeavor to further basic research in peace-science.
None of the larger peace-science journals published since 1983 in Germany had introduced a peer-review process at that time. Wissenschaft & Frieden [Science & Peace] admittedly has a trans-disciplinary orientation, but even today it does not use a peer-review procedure, and Sicherheit und Frieden [Security and Peace] is a decidedly political-science oriented journal that is only since its restructuring in 2004 publishing at least a share of refereed articles.
Even if conflict & communication online initially filled a gap in the German academic journal market, the journal's profile was from the start oriented to acquiring not merely a national, but rather also an international profile. Consequently, we work not only with German, but also with English as our publishing languages. The decision as to which of the two languages an article will be published in is left to its author. An exception to this is the book reviews that have appeared since 2004, which are always published in the language of the reviewed book.
In fact we seem to have achieved a good balance between German and international contributions. Of the 87 original articles that appeared in the journal's first nine years, 23% were published in German, 75% in English and 2% in both languages. Of the authors, 35% were from Germany, and the majority (65%) were from other countries, specifically from the USA (12), Israel (9), Australia (5), Great Britain and Norway (4 each), Sweden and Switzerland (3 each), Finland (2), Austria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Uzbekistan (1 each).
The journal's readership is internationally distributed as well. The number of downloads has risen steadily since 2002, and in 2009 it reached a total of over 130,000 page downloads by ca. 70,000 visitors from Germany, Austria, the USA, Australia, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Israel, Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, Finland, Turkey, Japan, Greece, Italy South Africa, the Czech Republic, France, New Zealand, the Ukraine, India, Poland, China, Russia, Portugal, Hungary, Denmark, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Rumania, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Indonesia, Singapore and other countries (in order of their frequency).
A necessary precondition for the democratization of science in a globalized world is free access to scientific results. The large publishing companies quite shamelessly exploit their monopoly position in the academic journal market and drive the prices of journals up to levels that not just Third World universities, but even those in Europe cannot or can just barely afford. The dissatisfaction with this moved us to design conflict & communication online as an open-access journal, which at the time was still rather a novelty. This was made possible through the publication of the journal as an electronic online-journal and cooperation with the verlag irena regener berlin publishing house, whose aim is to set quality standards off mainstream. In the meantime, the problem has also been recognized by influential sponsoring institutions like the German Research Society (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG) and the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), with whose support the open access concept has developed into a sort of mass movement that offers a real alternative to the mainstream journals of the large publishing houses.
No less fateful than the monopoly position of the large publishing companies is the publication format of most mainstream journals, which has literally preprogrammed a fragmentation of scholarly publications into reports on more and more limited aspects of studies, and as a consequence not quality but rather quantity has increasingly become decisive for scholarly publications and their evaluation. The significance that numerical factors such as the impact factor and/or the Hirsch factor have acquired in the past few years favors the tendency to segment research results into ever narrower publishable units, and many of the mainstream publications suffer from a lamentable theory deficiency. In the meantime, this fragmentation has reached such an extent that the DFG recently felt obliged to respond with strong remedial measures (Kleiner, 2010).
A paradigm change such as that initiated by the DFG can, however, only prevail if there are suitable scholarly journals that publish more complex and extensive articles. For this reason, already since its foundation and even before the DFG took the initiative, conflict & communication online has taken two measures to work against the fragmentation of scientific publications: (1) generous guidelines with regard to the size of manuscripts, which at 5,000 to 10,000 words is definitely higher than the average for conventional mainstream journals, and which are also flexibly applied, and (2) topical guidelines that bring together and integrate under a peace-science perspective the theories, methodological approaches and empirical findings of the most diverse disciplines that have conflict and/or communication as their research object. It is not just applied research on current and topical conflict fields, but at the same time also the establishment of basic trans-disciplinary research that conflict & communication online wishes to provide as a publication organ.
How far this trans-disciplinary approach has actually been realized can be judged only with difficulty. The disciplinary background of our authors is only a very rough indicator, but it does permit us to see that conflict & communication online is being received and utilized beyond and across disciplinary boundaries: 45.5% of the authors who published in the journal's first nine years had their primary background in journalism, media and communication studies, 27.3% in psychology and 16.9% in political science. The remaining 10.3% are spread across linguistic studies, pedagogy and sociology. In a topical regard, 63.9% of the articles focused on empirical and experimental studies, 31.3% on theoretical questions, and 4.8% on methodology and the development of methods.
A paradigm change like the one addressed above does not simply occur overnight, but rather it presupposes a learning process on the part of authors and readers, publishers and reviewers. The fragmentation of scientific publications has in the meantime become so ingrained in the entire scientific community that often it is hard for many to summon up the patience needed in order to study more complex and extensive articles. And to write such articles implies even more that one must free oneself from the conventional publications schemata and find new creative forms.
The reader must be the judge of how far we have previously succeeded. We have certainly already taken the first steps. But we still have a long way to go.

Konstanz - Berlin
March 2011

Wilhelm Kempf

Kleiner, Matthias (2010). Qualität statt Quantität. Die Publikationsflut schadet der Wissenschaft. Die DFG antwortet nun auf ihre Weise: Unsere verbindlichen Regeln für Literaturangaben in Förderanträgen und Abschlussberichten sind ein Paradigmenwechsel. Forschung 1/2010, 2-3.

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