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Academic communication to be fostered in context of ‘Double First-Class’ initiative

Author  :  Cai Hongsheng     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-01-30

Though it has not been long since authorities proposed a plan to increase the number of China’s first-class universities and disciplines by the end of 2050, the “Double First-Class” initiative has become a fundamental strategy to make China an international higher education power. First-class scholarship relies on first-class disciplines, and the university’s publishing divisions, including its academic journals, act as the platform for demonstrating academic achievements and conducting academic communication, the basic function of which is to serve disciplinary development and academic research. 

While the “Double First-Class” initiative has created golden opportunities, disciplinary development, university publishers and academic journals face many new problems and challenges. To counter the challenges, the following three points are noteworthy.

First, we need to adapt to the trend of new technological transformations with the mentality of “internet plus.” 

The popularization of new media technologies represented by mobile internet technology has prompted universities to overhaul the way they operate in terms of instruction, scientific research and publication. The integration of the online and offline instruction has become an urgent task. Immense amounts of online resources can be fully utilized for scientific research, and dimensional publishing can be realized by combining traditional forms and digital publishing.

Apart from the traditional evaluation methods, such as peer review and bibliometric evaluation, other evaluation measures that take into account the convenience of information technology need to be introduced to improve the academic evaluation system. While realizing that market conditions as well as the forms and functions of academic journals have undergone substantial changes, it is better for university journals to take precautions beforehand to counter the impact exerted by digitalization. 

The second is to foster academic communication within and outside the university. A sound, favorable atmosphere for academic communication must be created by expanding the channels of communication, strengthening high-level academic exchanges, encouraging faculty and research personnel to stand at the frontiers of each discipline, and promoting the interaction and integration of different disciplines.

The third is to enhance international cooperation by placing a premium on internationalization without blindly pursuing internationalization. The humanities and social sciences, which differ greatly from the natural sciences, study too many things that cannot be universally applied, and a one-size fits-all approach does not suit them. Therefore, the extent to which the humanities and social sciences are internationalized is limited. 

The scholars from these fields thus should have a soberly self-conscious academic inclination and voice their own distinctive opinions. The central role of the Chinese language must be emphasized since it underpins the development of the humanities and social sciences in a way that is fundamental. In terms of academic evaluation system, while not denying the importance of those measures adopted by the West such as SCI, SSCI and A&HCI, unique globally influential evaluation systems, with Chinese-language journals at the core, should be established.


Cai Hongsheng is the vice president of Central China Normal University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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