Discussion papers

CPM-18-243 - 22 May 2018

New discussion paper: "A Proposal for a Review of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation"

A proposal to establish a site for the review and discussion of items relevant to social simulation. Somewhere between a blog and a journal. By Melania Borit, Emile Chappin, Edmund Chattoe-Brown, Bruce Edmonds and Nick Gotts.

Critique, argument and debate have always been at the core of the Western academic tradition. At extended temporal scales there is debate as expressed between academic articles or books, but this is often too slow to achieve maximum effectiveness, as each contribution or response has to go through the normal publication process, including reviews and revisions. At the other end of the spectrum are spoken exchanges at conferences and other meetings, which are usually not preserved, and very rapid comment, as on Twitter or in blogs. However, this information is not curated and thus accessible as a coherent whole. Alos these are not necessarily preserved for others to read and refer to. A key part of the academic process of citation is that information should be available for checking and where this is not possible (whether because sources are inaccessible or fundamentally impermanent) damaging quality problems can arise (Treadway and McCloskey 1987).

In addition, much in the academic world seems to proceed by tacit assumptions, for example that citation is a true measure of academic value (rather than being conflated with academic fashion, practical accessibility, and other such factors) and that the reviewing process is adequately effective (so that it will seldom be a matter of scholarly importance to correct, retract or thoroughly debunk research that has already passed peer review). Such assumptions do not seem to be well supported and the consequences can sometimes be serious for the scientific endeavour (Chattoe-Brown 2011, Chattoe-Brown 2015).

Finally, assumptions that may have held good in previous decades (when academia was smaller and pressure to publish was less) may no longer hold so that effective and innovative solutions (perhaps taking advantage of new technologies) may be needed (Edmonds 2000).

Thus we are of the opinion that our field would benefit for an outlet that better promotes and preserves rapid debate – somewhere between a blog and an online journal. Such an outlet would:
● facilitate comment, critique, and debate by supporting shorter academic texts,
● have a relatively fast turnaround in publication terms,
● include a light-touch review for sanity, relevance, and legality, but otherwise be fairly inclusive and open ended as to what may be published,
● enable individual items to be curated and citable in perpetuity.