Is a personal site relevant for a researcher?
The creation of a personal site by a researcher is not obvious. Sites allowing to reach quickly research works multiply. Why to add others, contributing so to their excessive number? Why not let the task to put on-line research texts to reviews, laboratories, networks, research institutions, etc., which have the necessary means and which operate besides a certainly useful selection? Why not to limit to contribute to existing quality sites?
Several reasons militate nevertheless in favor of the creation of researchers' personal sites. They allow to diffuse texts and documents that can not be published by reviews, by publishers or by institutional sites, in spite of their importance and their utility. They show at once the intellectual progress of the researcher, that it is difficult to reconstitute when his publications are scattered between several sites. They can be, under certain conditions, an additional and effective tool of work, questioning and reasoning, for oneself and for the others, and to lead to cooperations. They can be finally a new tool of evaluation of the researchers’ work, susceptible to counterbalance certain worrisome current tendencies of the scientific evaluation.
A personal site allows the wide and fast diffusion of the texts and documents of inquiry, whatever is their type
Numerous texts written by the researchers and almost totality of their documents of inquiry are not published by reviews and publishers, because of their length, their complexity or their not academic shape. The current institutional sites do not intend to offer them to their guests. Nevertheless these texts and documents are often very interesting.
The type of publication used to diffuse a research work depend on the period and the circumstances. It does not prejudge the importance of the work. A research report, a working paper, an article in a review of popularization, in a synthesis book or in a "Letter" of network can be more crucial than a contribution in a collective research book, or an article in a review with referrees etc. Some previous articles or former books can be also inaccessible or the publishers can not republish them. Now these texts can be essential to understand the work and the scinetific perspectives of the concerned researcher.
As for the documents of inquiry, they are never published, sometimes depriving the " scientific publications " of certain elements of proof that would be nevertheless very useful to look, particularly in social sciences. After the research, these documents are arranged in personal archives or in inaccessible laboratories’ rooms. They are even sometimes destroyed. The current or next researchers are so deprived of original sources. A considerable work of collection of information is wasted.
One will find so on this site a maximum of published texts or in pre-publication and of documents of inquiries on which books and articles are based. They are reusable by the others. The limit of this project is naturally the time necessary for the on-line publishing, particularly when it implies a digitalization.
A personal site allows to reach documents from entries as numerous as necessary to indicate the contents, the contribution and the potentialities of the documents
The publications are always fuller than their title, their thematic classification or their keywords. A site allows to present them under several entries, in particular under entries the institutional sites can not adopt, because they imply theoretical and methodological choices. These entries only a personal site makes possible underline the scientific perspective of the researcher. They enlarge the spectrum of the persons potentially interested, notably in the other disciplines. The intoduction of the " résumé of the works " asked the researchers in their report of activity can also contribute towards a better understanding of the work.
The multiple entries can lead also to pages of presentation of texts, including summary, content, context of writing, scientific contributions and current relevance. The works of the author are so replaced in their continuity. The reader can appreciate the interest of the texts and decide or not to download them.
So, besides entries frequently used by type of publications, year, subject and ground, commonly used, you will find here four supplementary entries. The entry by " research questions " allows to have access to texts from the questions of the guest. The selectionned research questions are generally questions which polarize or polarized the debates among researchers, even the public debate. They arise from scientific and practical stakes. They often require the interdisciplinary confrontation - cooperation among researchers and among researchers and actors to be surmonted. Naturally, the publications collected under a question don’t always propose an answer to this question. They suggest sometimes only a way to treat the question and some elements of reflection. When they propose answers, these answers can also evolve. It will be indicated in the pages of presentation of texts when they will be completed.
Entry by " elements of a possible social relationships theorization "it is the entry that replaces the best the texts in the perspective which motivated them and oriented them. The elements of this possible theorization are links of the reasoning. Links miss naturally. There is no text to inform them.
The other supplementary entries allow a faster vision of the scientific contents of the project of theorization. " Main Publications " open access to the publications which were important moments of construction of the project. So, one will find there publications of any type: working papers, research reports, etc. as articles in reviews or books at "recognized" publishers. The entry " résumé of the works " show the way leading to the project of theorization.
A site can be the place of the personal work and a means to facilitate the exchanges and the cooperations
The fact of having on the working screen all the publications and the inquiry documents by simple "click" on structured menus gets a considerable saving of time. It produces also an heuristics effect. It is true, the saving of time implies beforehand an important investment to put on-line documents written or obtained before the creation of the site. It is on the other hand immediate, once the site created. When the menus are thought, not only as means of fast access to documents, but also as tools to develop the scientific project, then the site facilitates the resumption of tracks left aside, the location of « holes » in the documentation, the understanding of impasses in the reasoning and the sketch of possible schema of analysis. To use the website as the place of work also has for consequence to update it permanently and to "mainten" it That are the conditions of the renewed interest of the guests.
A site allows the reader to contact the author and to transmit to him its remarks very easily and quickly. This type of contact can have fruitful effects for the one as for the other one. The author is certain that his interlocutor read the text, what isn’t always the case in a seminar or in a colloquium. The reader can collect useful precisions that the author will introduce possibly into a new version.
But it is another possibility. The "communities" of the free software showed the remarkable efficiency of this possibility. The software here used, Drupal, is the fruit of the free cooperation, via internet, among computer specialists. They divided the task to develop the "features". Thanks to their free cooperation facilitated by internet, we can have a tool very flexible and easy to use. The free cooperation demonstrated its superior efficiency, compared with all the cooperating forms of employees by a capital or by some authority.
The working model of the "communities" of the free software could be a source of inspiration for the researchers. The researchers, generally paid on public money, have the freedom of their subject and of their way of working, under conditions of results considered new or promising by their peers. But the mode of evaluation of their work that prevails pushes them to the individual work. They are so led very often to reduce their subject to make it treatable by an individual. The consequence is many questions in debate are never cut short, because they require an organized, durable and interdisciplinary cooperation of numerous researchers. The experience shows nevertheless that the free cooperation is very profitable for every participant. They don’t prevent a normal career (see the entry « Reflections on the research »).
My experience to create and to animate research groups and networks convinced me that the free and organized confrontation / cooperation among peers is the condition of a significant progress of the knowledge. If the researchers don’t find by themselves a solution to improve their collective efficiency, the others will make it in their place, but according to their self-interests. This process is even probably already in progress in France.
Two levels of confrontation / cooperation can be distinguished. The first level is the research questions in debate among the researchers. There is no reason these questions continue, in the same terms. The experience of the GERPISA and certainly of the other cooperations show that the researchers from different disciplines, different theoretical orientation and different countries can list nevertheless the logical research operations to answer a research question, since there is agreement on the terms of the question. It is naturally necessary the participants agree to take the risk to evolve intellectually during the work. But the gain of time and the opening of mind are incomparable!
The second level is the shared schema of analysis to develop. To resume the analogy of the free software, the schema of analysis is at the same moment the inference engine and the source code from which each finds out a possible application and proposes a solution. I would now like to work for this second level, after to have worked a lot on the first level. And why not try to make it, not only in the usual places, seminars and the networks, but also through the web, as the "communities" of the free software did it?
In the block " Proposals of cooperative research ", one can read three subjects: productive models, growth models and social relationships. These three subjects articulate in a possible social relationships theorization. I try to explain it in the " résumé of the works ". Analysis schemas were elaborated for both first subjects and they are in developing within the GERPISA. But they can be discussed and worked also by those which are interested. Proposals of work plans will be soon on-line publishing. An analysis schema of the social relationships is sketched in several publications, but it isn’t was not yet explicited. It is the task of the next months.
Researcher's personal sites can counterbalance the current tendencies of the scientific evaluation
There is a last justification for the creation of researchers' personal sites. They can counterbalance the current tendencies of the scientific evaluation. The classification of publications according to the fame of reviews or publishers plays a too great part in the evaluation. If this tendency prevailed definitively, the evaluation would be more opaque than it is today in France. The choice of the members of the scientific committees of these reviews and the choice of the referees by these members are made according to criteria difficult to verify. The current commissions having the onus of the scientific evaluation are not perfect, but they are almost controlled and periodically renewed. Reviews and the publishers must take into account a minimum of commercial requirements. So it is not rare to see them to privilege the subjects in the « air du temps ». They contribute to lead numerous researchers to impasses, particularly in social sciences. Researchers' sites constantly updated would give a more complete vision of their work. They would help the commissions of evaluation, but also reviews and publishers, to track down better the fruitful works.
Is it possible?
Yes, at least technically. It is necessary to have naturally a software allowing to make the site a tool such as presented first. But, it is necessary especially that this software can be used easily and quickly by the author himself. So he can « maintain » the site constantly by new documents, by new presentations, by new discussions and suggestions, without waiting for the availability of a webmaster. I owe to Tommaso Pardi the discovery of the free software Drupal and the necessary help for my first steps in its use. Very many thanks.