Department of Sociology Athabasca University
Dr. Mike Sosteric believes that it’s time to bring sociology out of the ivory tower — and he is doing so through a new media journal called The Socjournal, which is attracting a million hits [editor’s correction, that’s close to five million hits in January 2012) a month.
Sosteric is an assistant professor of sociology in Athabasca University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. A couple years ago, he became frustrated with traditional modes of academic communication such as scholarly journals and academic conferences.
“I felt it just created bulkheads between professors and the real world,” he said. “This is a particular problem in sociology where there are no journals designed to raise awareness of sociological research and discussions.”
Sosteric wanted to do something that would create a broader awareness of sociology and its contribution to society as a whole. He also wanted to invigorate the sociology program at AU.
The Socjournal, founded in 2010, functions “by providing content interesting to students, in a language students can understand, in ways students can relate to, in forms easily accessible to them,” he says.
With a million hits a month, The Socjournal is proving extremely popular. The readership is made up mostly of students but also includes some professors. In addition to those in humanities and social sciences, there are also readers from fields such as the natural sciences, agriculture, law, business and the military.
Content includes articles contributed by students and faculty members from both AU and other institutions. Sosteric also posts student papers from his advanced sociology courses that he thinks might be of interest to Socjournal readers.
“I turn down a lot of material written by academics,” he says, “because it is in traditional form (e.g., scholarly paper, etc.). We are not a peer-reviewed journal, and some academics have a hard time seeing past the publication blinders they wear.”
Since The Socjournal first appeared, registration in AU’s Sociology 287: Introduction to Sociology I has increased by 30 per cent, Sosteric says. While he acknowledges that other factors are contributing to the increase, he says, “I suspect a large part of the increase is a result of the efforts I’ve taken with The Socjournal to point potential students toward our sociology program.”