interactions
International Multidisciplinary Journal of Research into Dysfunctions and Handicaps

 

PUBLISHER NOTE

WHY LAUNCH AN INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DYSFUNCTION AND HANDICAPS?

A thorough knowledge of the relationships which can exist between different realities which are Impairments, dysfunctions and handicaps, is a major stake for the development of our societies.

However, in spite of abundant literature on this subject, this knowledge has made little progress in the last 30 years. This stagnation can be put in connection with factors related to the structuring of research and the organization of the corresponding professional sectors.

The scientific, theoretical and practical problems, posed by the study of the interactions between impairments, dysfunctions and handicaps, require without doubt a multidisciplinary approach.

Nevertheless, in spite of an evolution marked by efforts towards decompartmentalization, research remains organized mainly on a disciplinary basis and the procedures of evaluation of researchers give more value to fundamental research than to finalized research.

As a result, unlike other countries, France has few, if any, research units specifically focused on “disability studies”. This choice of the scientific authorities in our country, while it can be justified from an epistemological point of view, has a certain number of consequences in the organisation of the research field concerned.

It has come to the point that there does not even exist a scientifically acceptable term which would be likely to describe and determine the limits of this research field.

There are, however, excellent studies related to impairments and their consequences, or to dysfunctions and their effects on the living conditions of those affected by them. But these studies are generally led by researchers scattered in laboratories from different research organizations, from different disciplines, using different terminologies.

Thus, it often happens that researchers working on similar questions do not communicate with each other and sometimes do not even know each other. Most researchers prefer to publish in journals of their own field, which are often the only ones recognized by their evaluators.

Under these conditions, biologists publish in biology journals, researchers in linguistics publish in communication techniques and sciences in linguistics or new information and communication technologies journals, lawyers in law journals, political analysts in political science journals, and so on.

In the end, it is mainly researchers from “composite” fields such as psychology, sociology or educational sciences who investigate this field, with the support of professional and administrative organizations.

As a result, the articles published in this area are seldom submited by researchers of important research organizations whose work is subjected to evaluation, but mostly by experts seeking recognition or militants from various causes. In many cases, the articles published do not respect the criteria of rigor necessary for a scientific journal and their interest for the development of knowledge is not always obvious.

In any case, in our country there exists no true scientific journal, specifically devoted to the questions which we mention.

The professional sector most directly concerned is essentially made up of associations. It is mainly a private but non-competitive sector which fulfills a mission of public utility, under the direct control of State administrations and local authorities.

If we take into account the fact that the most important associations in this sector also constitute relatively powerful special interest groups, it is not surprising that, in such a context, the political and administrative stakes, and the professional interests which structure this unit, can have a determining influence. Under the influence of the administration and special interest groups, research and innovation can only be tolerated for a long period of time in ad hoc structures.

Taking into account the economic weight of this field, in the European context which gives priority to research and innovation, the lack of a true scientific journal, with a European vocation, devoted to these problems, is evident.

The need for a reference scientific journal, which would provide an essential communication tool for researchers and professionals working in this area, is increasingly difficult to neglect.

Objectives of our project

The new journal named INTERACTIONS is thus mainly conceived as a communication tool aiming at allowing effective communication between researchers from different fields, coming from different organizations and institutions but whose work is directly or indirectly related to the questions covered by the journal.

Its aim is to become a reference tool, able to select those scientific contributions which present a true elaboration and make a genuine contribution to the development of knowledge in this area. It thus intends to take part in the regulation of the scientific debate while offering, as far as possible, a space which is distinct from that of the ideological and political debate on the questions related to “disabilities.”

With this intention, it will attempt to make knowledge accessible to researchers from different fields, but also to professionals likely to use them and to the users of the services concerned.

Means considered

In order to constitute a reference tool and a privileged communication tool for researchers from different fields, it is important that the journal INTERACTIONS should present an unambiguous identity profile which would rapidly be recognized by the international scientific community.

The review INTERACTIONS is defined as a thematic, resolutely multidisciplinary and independent journal, in other words, an open journal without any restrictions in terms of field or scientific methodology.

This opening up implies in turn a precise definition of its field and a precise definition of the criteria of selection of the articles which will be published here.

The journal INTERACTIONS publishes contributions which mainly concern the relationship between body deteriorations, disabilities and handicaps as well as their effects on the subjective level and the social aspects.

Recognition by the scientific community can only be obtained through a rigorous selection of articles published on the basis of scientific interest and quality standards. It is advisable on this subject to note that such a selection will only be possible if a sufficient number of articles of a good scientific level are regularly submited to the journal and if the contributors are mainly experienced researchers or students working under the effective direction of experienced researchers.

The articles selected, after a double expertise, will correspond to clearly defined selection criteria among which the most important is: the scientific interest and quality of the contribution as well as the quality of the drafting. Among the articles answering these criteria those presenting a true elabortion and a significant contribution to the development of knowledge in the field concerned, will be selected.

In other words, the journal INTERACTIONS is not intended for the transmission of sectoral information. Administrative or legal information or information on the evolution of tariffing will naturally find their place in other journals.

Neither does it seek to accommodate opinion articles, the main aim of which is to contribute to the ideological and political debate on the questions of “disabilities”. Without denying the interest and the need for such debate, the problem remains that, in the field concerned, the opinion debate often supplants, eludes, or eclipses, the scientific debate.

This is why it is natural to conclude that scientific discussion would be largely favoured if a clearly marked out space, distinct from that of the ideological debate could be reserved for it.  In any case, the publication of opinion articles, of political defense standpoints or of specific interests concerns a different mode of regulation and should be treated distinctly in a different journal.

It can be useful to recall at this point that scientific work, including that in the economic, legal and political areas, aims at describing and explaining how things are.  They cannot aim at judging, or saying what must or what should be. They do not aim at enacting new norms, promoting or defending specific interests. A clear positioning of the journal on this point seems likely to consolidate its independence.

Indeed, it is clear that, in this area, the journal can benefit from a scientific recognition and constitute a reference tool only if it manages to guarantee and show real independence, as much with respect to the administrations concerned as to the associations managing specific structures and professional organizations, as well as trade-union or corporative organizations.

With this intention, the editorial board and the reading panel will mainly consist of independent personalities with recognized scientific competence who are active in the research field.

Collaboration will be required with scientific and technical organizations likely to help the leading authorities of the journal thanks to their competence in their field (CNAM, CNRS, INSERM, Universities, and research units).

The necessary financial means for the organization of the journal will be as reduced and diversified as possible, in order to prevent, as far as possible, the journal from becoming dependant on its financing sources.

To make the scientific work accessible to researchers from different fields as well as to the professionals likely to use them also supposes specific dispositions.

It is indeed well known that one of the difficulties inherent to multidisciplinary work lies in the fact that the researchers coming from different fields find it hard to communicate with each other because of the use of different concepts and also sometimes abuse of disciplinary jargon, experience showing that the use of this is not really essential.

Publishing in the journal INTERACTIONS will thus demand a particular drafting effort in order to be able to be accessible to researchers from a different field than that of the author, as well as to professionals and service users.

Chief Editor
Christian ROSSIGNOL

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