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Peer-reviewed podcasts: Amplify Podcast Network produces podcasts as scholarly communication

July 28, 2020

By Tessa Perkins Deneault

As podcasting continues to grow in popularity, it has become an effective medium for researchers to share complex ideas in an accessible way. Publishing professor Hannah McGregor is showing that podcasts can be a form of academic research in their own right. She has been producing her Secret Feminist Agenda podcast since 2017 and has been working in partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University Press to create an editorial methodology for the peer review of podcasts as a unique form of scholarly communication.

With the support of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, McGregor has now established the Amplify Podcast Network, a partnership between SFU’s Publishing program and Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL), Wilfrid Laurier University Press (WLU Press), Wilfrid Laurier University Library (WLUL), and The Documentary Media Society (DOXA).

“A goal of the project is to support podcasting as a legitimate form of scholarship,” explains McGregor.

Three new podcasts will join McGregor’s Secret Feminist Agenda as part of the network: Community of Praxis by Brenna Clarke Gray (Coordinator, Educational Technologies, Thompson Rivers University), Creaturely Conversations by Daniel Heath Justice (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture, University of British Columbia), and Communication at the Edge by Kendra Cowley (Master of Library and Information Studies and Digital Humanities student at the University of Alberta) and María Alvarez Malvido (Master of Communications and Technology student, University of Alberta).

McGregor has long been interested in non-traditional forms of scholarly communication — those that are outside of conventional forms such as journal articles, book chapters, or edited collections. For the purposes of the Amplify Podcast Network, a scholarly podcast is defined as one that undergoes peer review. But, she says, this raises the question of who is considered a peer and how the review should be conducted.

In rethinking peer review, McGregor has been collecting feedback from listeners and community members to help inform Secret Feminist Agenda, and she says it’s important to remain engaged with the public and accountable to the community.

Her podcast has been cited by other scholars, assigned in university courses, and presented at the Vancouver Podcast Festival. It has 6,000 subscribers and almost half a million downloads. If the goal of scholarly publishing is to share knowledge with the public, then Secret Feminist Agenda is a template for the Amplify Podcast Network to build upon.

As McGregor says, “It’s had more impact than anything else I’ve done.”