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Publishing and Communicating Research


Please note: this course description is not fully up-to-date for the academic year 2019-2020. A new version with marginal changes will be presented on this page shortly.


This course focuses on scientific and scholarly communication patterns over the last few centuries - from 17th century print, to 21st century web-based publishing - and the different ‘publication cultures’ between scientific fields. We will zoom in on the politics and economics of journal publishing, and will explain why articles became the norm in many fields.

The role of evaluation in carrying out and communicating research will also be discussed. Why did counting publications become so popular in assessing scientific work? How did large bibliographic databases play a role in this process? How is scientific activity on the web being tracked? We will not only focus on ‘traditional’ forms of output such as books and journal articles, but will also pay attention to the more recent move to the web (including debates about open access).

Theoretically, students will learn to make connections between the rise of the information society in the second half of the 20th century and the coinciding emergence of particular forms of scientific governance.

Course objectives

After this course students will be able to:

  • Point out the differences in scientific communication patterns and cultures between disciplines;

  • Develop a critical perspective on the role played by certain ways of communication, in the light of the availability of quantitative measures;

  • Develop a basic insight into the historical development of scientific communication and publishing, in the light of the developments described in Science as Culture: Introduction



Assessment method

The assessment of this course is based upon two elements. The first element of the assessment is based upon a poster, made by a team, on a research topic related to the course. A poster is a specific type of scientific communication, with which most young scholars are confronted in their early steps in an academic career. Instruction on making such a poster is part of the working group meetings.

Second element of the assessment is the participation to the course elements, the lectures and working group meetings. This means that participation to the course elements is obligatory, and only in special cases absence of the course elements is allowed


We will use blackboard as communication platform for lecture notes. assignments and announcements.

Reading list

Via Blackboard we will distribute a Course Guide that contains a full overview of the literature used in the course. Readings will be made available via Blackboard or through the Leiden University Library.


Students can register from 1 May to 31 July via uSis. The course catalogue code is 6000MSCTSN, activity number: TBA. Please note that we can accommodate a maximum of 40 students. Admission is based on the students’ qualifications + a first come, first served basis.

Students from other universities will need permission to register. Please send an e-mail to Josephine Bergmans via j.e.bergmans@cwts.leidenuniv.nl. This also applies to Exchange and Study Abroad students. For more general information for international students please see the Study Abroad website.

Contact information

For more information you can contact the minor coordinator Josephine Bergmans.