Academic publishing and the attention economy

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Abstract

With the explosion of information and constant bombardment of news, advertising and social media, the ‘Knowledge Economy’ has given way to the ‘Attention Economy’, which treats human attention as a scarce commodity. In the digital age, moreover, research articles are products competing for readers' limited attention in a context of massively greater competition. This is particularly relevant for academics as attention can function as currency as well as capital when its qualitative value is turned into measurable units. This is, in essence, the role played today by publication and citation. Propelled by metrics-driven career incentives, scholars are constantly pushed to gain the attention, and approval, of reviewers, editors, readers, funders and promotion boards and this means rhetorically promoting our work to be as noticeable as possible. In this argument paper, I elaborate this point and propose, through the examination of recent research into academic discourse, how the attention economy has come to dominate how research is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101253
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Volume64
Early online date12 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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