Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-index

Although the h-index is well known, I didn’t know that it may have some value, but it does! Such as a minimum requirement for certain academic positions; something that I had never seen before, and I have reviewed many academic job posts for years on the internet from all universities in the world!

Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-indexTo illustrate it, I’ve recently received the following academic job offer:

  • From the Department of International Relations we share with you this call for professors of sociology, economics and history interested in pursuing an academic stay at Saint Petersburg State Polytechinical University (Russian Federation). Candidates should have at least 2 points in the Hirsch index”.

H-index is, for a given researcher, the number h of publications that are cited at least h times each in academic journals. For example, my h-index is 2 (Finance) because I have 2 papers cited 2 or more times each; the rest of my publications have only 1 (or none) citation each. And to get a 3 h-index, these other papers would have to be cited at least twice, and that would mean 3 articles cited at least 3 times each.

But this so convoluted thing seems to work, at least within the same field of knowledge. So the pirates that wrote the announcement knew what they were doing, and thus I guess they avoid reviewing and/or analyzing (with love and care) a lot of requests, such as those who do not understand the h-index, those do not maintain it, or those without citations, among others. Why wasting time browsing hundreds of academic curriculums when they have the miraculous h-index?

Moving forward, Google Scholar calculates your h-index, though you can also obtain it your course, but you have to document and demonstrate it indicating journals, dates, articles, authors, etc.. The weak point is that Google Scholar considers also self-citations (should they be included for the h-index?), and citations from not indexed journals, books, and other publications. But it’s what we have.

Therefore, apart from the overwhelming logic of using the h-index to select researchers, don’t you think it is outrageously absurd? You can imagine what may be the environment/working pressure on a place that calls for the h-index to their professors/researchers … but it’s up to you and your needs.

The seven habits of highly effective researchers (for publishing in journals)

The seven habits of highly effective researchers I wished I had written this book by Stephen Covey that I’m now paraphrasing, but you know my limitations, I’ll have to put up with using some others ideas. Though this time I’ve got something pretty amusing, I think: a different approach to the hard work of publishing in academic journals, on how to being highly effective by aligning to the following simple principles:

ENDURANCE

1. Just do it

Be proactive with your research and papers,take the lead if possible of the research projects you’re involved, and especially of the manuscripts. If you have a PhD, you are able to lead it (at your level). If you trust your publications in others, they never will do well, there will always be excuses. Take the helm or your papers never will be published.

2. Be unreasonably aspirational

Set the type of journals that you want/need to publish in and go for them. Know your limitations and plan where you want to get. Look what journals are looking for, what kind of research is needed, who their editors are, etc.

3. Cultivate your publishing pipeline

The important thing is doing good research (data driven), but don’t forget the publishing pipeline, as you need to have projects and manuscripts at all stages of the process: researching, writing, and publishing in journals.

4. Be patient, be changing

This is the most difficult/soft habit, you have no choice but to live with the timing of publication of papers and with your other academic obligations. Take a look back and see what you’ve got, keep it or start changing it if you don’t like it, coming out smoothly of your comfort area.

NETWORKING

5. Put your peers and editors first

On your own you are going nowhere in this publishing game. Don’t be selfish, in spite of habit 1. Give more of what you get, don’t do balance of who wins if you win something by publishing. Collaborate with other researchers, try to understand managing editors, help them being peer-reviewer or editor yourself.

6. Follow the academic networks

Get out there, expose yourself to the world, and let others know your work and publications. Think also in the transfer of knowledge and build your personal brand. Force yourself to use the academic networks participating in discussions of your field of knowledge, writing blogs, or using the internet tools for researchers. Even if you think it’s worthless, it’ll improve your skills and brand in the medium term.

RESULTS

7. Be obsessed with the student

You’re primarily a professor/educator, don’t forget it, don’t forget the classroom.  Research and publications aren’t everything. This is a struggle to find the balance between education, research and transfer of results that will make you even a better teacher.

 

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?According to the discussions opened on various forums about whether academic journals are racist when it comes to accept and publish articles from foreign autors (Do you think that journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published?), I found a general feeling, by authors from countries outside Europe and USA, that there is some discrimination from these two geographical areas, because Journals don’t trust either the quality of their research, their universities of affiliation, or their English writing.

Instead, the result of the poll has shown the opposite of what I expected for these comments in social networks just mentioned:

  • 56% – Yes, journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published
  • 44% – No, they are not

But the recent European election on May 24th, 2014, in which there has been clear progress by xenophobic parties, has made me to rethink the issue: It’s just a feeling on the part of the authors to justify the rejection of scientific articles in journals? Or is there something that we can do from Europe and USA to improve scholarly publishing and that perception?

Although this survey is part of a blog, and was not intended to be the basis of an academic research, but only investigate the feeling I had, collected on the Internet; now I think there is room for a good project on the causes of discrimination in the publication of articles by authors from non-Western countries, and what kind of corporate governance policies could be implemented in scientific journals to prevent this unfortunate perception of rejection to foreign research (racism).

Many of you’ll think: “The only thing that was missing in academia: policies for journals of affirmative action for authors (and not why for women) from countries outside of Europe and USA.” It’s all for the good of fair play, the development of research and its dissemination.

 

* The poll was posted in April and May 2014 in many academic discussion groups. Around 450 answers were collected.

Academic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley

As university professor, with great pressure to publish in academic journals, I find academic generalist networks essential, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, which help me to:

  • Disseminate on the web my published articles to try to obtain citations and name among the scientific community in my field of expertiseAcademic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley
  • Find research papers quickly and easily
  • Search for collaboration and international research projects
  • Share ideas and find solutions

I wonder if you can do the same on Facebook or Linkedin. Facebook don’t clearly do it because it’s very focused on leisure and personal life but, what about Linkedin? With millions of professors and professionals connected interested in science/research?

But no, it seems that we need a specific one to ourselves that differentiate researchers, with specific functionalities on usability and sociability (mainly source credibility), two main factors for evaluating online communities (Chinthakalaya, 2013).

I don’t intend to make a thorough analysis of the technical and functional characteristics of these platforms, but rather from the point of view of the user or scientist, offer an outline of their main features, to make the most of our time and know what you can expect from each. And although this is a blog and not a scientific research project, I have also taken into account the views of other users in the academic networks, such as those expressed in ResearchGate in this forum.

Obviously, I have created profiles on all platforms, so one important point is that you are forced to be on all of them, but if not constantly updated (profile and papers), the effort will be useless.

ResearchGate

  • I’d highlight its:
    • Interactivity: Collaboration and discovery through its discussions/questions and publication repository,
    • Intelligence:  The statistics and the scoring about your work are a great invitation / encouragement to participate and interact, though its administrators are very aware of all that is posted in the network, manipulating content, as if we were small children.
    • And source credibility: only researchers are accepted, and they use it a lot because of the scoring mentioned above.
  • But ResearchGate still has to improve its repository: I find it difficult to upload all my publications, not just papers, and it sometimes doesn’t find the links to get data when uploading them.

Academia.edu

  •  Its strength point is the repository of publications: Allows you to post the link on your paper, so other researchers can download your papers directly from the original source (SSRN, RepEc, arXiv.org, CiteCeerX or SSOAR), which increase your score on these repositories, if that is important for anyone.
  • But I find it less democratic so at the end less interactive: It’s very restrictive when disclosing your ideas to exchange views with other researchers. For example Academia.edu has deleted almost all of my new discussions, and they even closed my first profile there and I had to open another, which gives me the creepy feeling of censorship and guarded by a big brother with the excuse of spam.

Mendeley

  • It works more as a reference management system (organize and search bibliographies, add papers from the web to your library, etc.) with both online and desktop versions, sometimes difficult to understand. So it isn’t an academic network, but it has “a social network integrated”, which can give you an idea of its limited social and sharing capabilities.
  • It also has strong corporate and lucrative connotations: Mendeley was acquired in 2013 by Elsevier, the publishing house; yes, the one that is requesting scientific social-networking sites and authors to remove the papers posted online without their permission.

In conclusion, ResearchGate and Academia.edu are very similar social networks for scientists, each with their particular strengths/software, but I foresee a better future for ResearchGate because of its commitment to sociability, though not as much as Linkedin, my favorite generalist academic network.

Too bad they aren’t specialized in socializing the process of publishing in scholarly journals, both to editors and authors.

 

Adding value in academia: The vision of a newborn Ukrainian journal

Adding value in academia: The vision of a newborn Ukrainian journalVladyslav Dombrovskyi graduated in Banking and had been teaching Micro- and Macroeconomics for many years, till he made a decision to change his career path and transform his lifelong hobby and passion for computers and computer networks into his profession. In 2010, Vladyslav switched to applied computer science and became an associate professor at the Department of Economic Cybernetics (Ukrainian Academy of Banking). The next three years were life changing for him. He tried a new capacity of a team-mentor in Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and also led several software development projects. At the moment, Vladyslav is a managing editor of the Information Technology and Economics journal, a new international journal established in 2014, which focuses on the intersection of IT, Business and Economics.

Gaudeamus. Why have you decided to set up a new academic journal?

Vladyslav Dombrovskyi. Our decision was based on three I-s: Idea, Inspiration and Interest.

It came as a surprise to discover that there were just a few interdisciplinary journals in the area. That is when and why the idea of a new journal was born. This initial idea grew into a bigger-scale one about the necessity to create a bridge, which could unite not only IT, Business and Economics, but people as well – namely, scholars and experts from all over the world.

We also had an inspired and inspiring team with diversified backgrounds, expertise and qualifications – this component surely added to the decision of launching such kind of a project.

Last but not least, it was the interest in IT as a driving force for modern economic and business development.

G. Which is the focus of the journal?

VD. The focus of the journal pursues two main directions: Application of IT in Business and Economics, and Economics of high-technology industries. At present, information technology changes rapidly and penetrates every sphere of our life, giving great opportunities to create a better future for everyone.

G. What do you think you are offering to the scientific community with your new journal?

VD. We believe our journal can offer several things. First of all, it is a unique interdisciplinary journal. We could find no more than 5 journals with similar thematic focus, aims and scope. Secondly, we provide a platform for discussing new ideas in the extremely up-to-date areas. What we really value is originality and novelty of those ideas. Finally, we offer participation in e-publishing experiments. We are not limited by the traditional model of publishing.  However, we are not going to immediately rush into the experiments – we are well aware of the fact that before you improve something, you need to learn and understand well how this process is organized traditionally.

G. What are the major difficulties you’re encountering in this initial phase?

VD. Right now, our main obstacle is forming the Editorial Board and finding a proper candidate for the Editor-in-chief position. Even though the idea of the journal looks interesting and topic is definitely relevant for the modern world, we still have to be very convincing to persuade people to join us. Nowadays academics do not have a lot of free time, which they can spend on participation in additional projects. Anyway, we have to refuse candidates who would like to join the Editorial Board if they do not meet our criteria.

G. What kind of papers and authors are you looking for the journal? And why should authors publish there?

VD. We are primarily interested in interdisciplinary researches on the intersection of IT, Business and Economics.  Nowadays there are millions of young people who have grown up with IT in their blood, and they go into traditional businesses and reinvent them. We are facing the emergence of a completely new economy, in which some industries can disappear while others are likely to be dramatically transformed. Let’s take, for example, Bitcoin. It clearly shows the possibility of paying for purchases or sending money without banks or any other intermediaries. So far this technology is a great controversy, but it can completely reshape financial markets. How? We have to think.

As for the authors, we would like to see papers from researchers with a deep understanding of Information Technology and its capabilities, who are not afraid of putting forward new bold ideas and discussing them. The pace of IT development is so high that economists often do not imagine the full extent of all the opportunities offered by the use of new technologies. At the same time, even the most advanced and useful technology is sooner or later confronted with the market and the laws of economics. We see our potential authors as part of a team, which wants to create a better future with the help of modern IT.

Why should they choose us? We offer not simply a publication in the journal – we strive to attract people who are eager to participate in the project, in the experiment. Write for our blog, share your ideas, discuss them, come up with a new initiative. Let’s dream together. Let’s put forward ideas and test them. We want to create a community around the journal that would help academics and practitioners with finding partners for joint researches. Moreover, we do not charge fees for publishing papers in our journal, as we strongly believe that selection should be based on professionalism and quality of a research and our project should be accessible for every worthy author.

At the same time, we are not going to go too far with the experiments. The journal is refereed and it will be abstracted and indexed by main academic databases and search engines as soon as the volume of content and other criteria are met.

G. Starting a new business in the academic world from Ukraine, do you think is an advantage or a disadvantage? Do you receive some kind of support from the state?

VD. First of all, what we are doing can be called business only in the sense that our goal is to create value for the academic community. The profit is a bad goal for such projects, but a good benchmark for confirming whether what you are doing is necessary for society or not. We believe that any good project should be financially self-sustaining. This ensures its long life.

Starting any new project in present-day Ukraine is challenging. There is a high level of uncertainty about the future due to the current situation. Ukrainians went through a revolution, where we proved our right to freedom, our right to be heard and our right to have a democratic country that values its citizens. Now our country is facing the transformation period, which is always a difficult time for everyone.

On the whole, we are perceived positively by the researches and they are ready to work with the scientific journal from the Eastern Europe, because they are mainly concerned about the quality. So we are now focused on forming a strong Editorial Board to ensure a smooth and transparent reviewing process.

Speaking about support – unfortunately, there are no governmental programs in this area at the moment, so we rely on friends, our supporters and ourselves. However, with the current transformation processes in Ukraine we hope for possible cooperation from the state – that is not likely to happen due to many other priorities that government should take care of, but we never stop hoping for better.

Join us in our journey (www.prostoscience.org). And you will see, it will be interesting.

POLL: Are scientific journals unfair or biased?

I had the feeling sometimes that some scientific journals, particularly those belonging to certain regions, departments or associations, have some bias or require certain characteristics to research and to the manuscript that make it difficult to publish articles that are not of their affinity group.

  1. This has happened to me especially in Spain and the USA, so I imagine it will be a global widespread problem.
  2. In particular, I find difficult to publish in American journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters), which often have a series of demands that I don’t find in other countries journals the same level of impact factor; I don’t not know if their quality level is higher or that they distrustful of the research done outside the USA, which would be discriminatory. I believe that it has to do with what is taught in the USA doctorates, betting on a certain way of doing things and a specific requirement in research, although it’s best not to generalize.
  3. This feeling of discrimination have also been felt by some Asian colleagues, but instead, they directly accuse European and American journals of racism, which I do not think it exists for what was mentioned above.

But fortunately I feel that this presumably unjust situation is changing with the entry of new competitors / players in scholarly publishing, such as Open Access journals, article repositories, academic social networks or platforms such as Gaudeamus, which democratize the knowledge of scholarly publishing and open the opportunity to disseminate research from authors all around the world.

With these thoughts I propose you to vote on this survey and change a little our scholarly publishing world!

POLL: Are scientific journals unfair or biased?

 

What are scholarly journals doing to attract authors and papers?

What are scholarly journals doing to attract authors and papersBasically what scholarly journals do to maximize exposure and find content (authors and papers) is indexing them in data bases and directories, whether they are recognized journals, or new and open access.

  • The difference will be on the relevance of the database, because if they are indexed in Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters) they have already virtually assured a minimum content, but they should continue fighting for the journal quality and improvement in the medium term.
  • For maximizing exposure of your open access journals I’ve found the following less common abstracting and indexing services that they may be of interest: Google Scholar, Ulrich’s Web, JURN, CrossRef, Open J-gate, or ticTocs Journal Table of Contents, among many hundreds others.

For the better or worse this is so because it’s what authors are seeking; for example my journal search process is as follows:

  1. As I look for the best journal for my manuscript, I seek first those who publish articles similar to mine, and I get them mainly from the literature review.
  2. I usually also save the e-mails from the editors that have directly approached me to publish in their journals, so I have a look at them.
  3. After that I review the ones within the first quartile at Journal Citation Reports impact factor ranking.
  4. And finally, I try to find a common ground with their editors or someone who knows their editorial policy and can give me feedback about them, what articles are looking for or even if my paper could fit there.

At a second level, although it’s also important, is to create a database of authors, scientists and professors of the journal specialty field, either searching directly for them when they publish in other journals, or using their database of subscribers/readers.

Finally there is the Internet and social networks, creating their own pages for being followed by scientists, but I think it is still to be developed. Some journals make their call for papers in their own portals and even in specialized websites; undoubtedly it’ll be part of the future.

  • And how about the idea of ​​an academic network for publishing in journals? Where authors and editors could interact and publish their articles, such as Gaudeamus?

So, in short, to find authors and content journals should be well indexed in quality directories and work the social networks for potential new authors. After that it would only remain selecting the right papers among dozens, making use of the more or less automatized internal processes, particularly peer-review. Almost nothing!

 

PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional career

PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional careerAs I’m growing older, also do it my friends and contacts, so I’m experiencing, in particular after the occurrence of the last financial crisis, that professional careers start ending at a certain age (around 55?), and we should find alternative activities to prolong career (and income) until at least you turn 70.

And one of the most logical alternatives is to use your own long professional experience, that is, start consulting, activity that is linked to knowledge and personal branding, which fit perfectly well within an academic career: PhD, teaching, researching, publishing in scientific journals and networking.

But it’s clear that the transition is not done overnight and have to be planned in advance, at least 5 years. I did it more than 10 years ago: I wanted to be a university professor and now I’m delighted with my vocation, although it’s much more demanding than I thought at first.

On the other hand, it’s also true that you can be a good professor without a PhD, but I don’t recommend it because it makes no sense and has no future, as a doctorate degree gives you the basic skills a researcher needs, puts you as an equal with other academics, and when opting for an adjunct or lecturer job you will have more merits than the others, having into account that for a full-time position a PhD is a must.

Furthermore, in Spain at least, most private universities cover their adjunct/lecturer positions with successful working professionals without teaching or researching experience, but increasingly they are raising the requirements. Lately, for example, ICADE Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, a small business university in Madrid, were asking the following requirements (minimum and valuable ones) for an adjunct (part time) position:

  1. PhD
  2. Accredited as a university professor
  3. Publications in international academic journals
  4. Extensive professional and teaching experience
  5. And ability to teach in English

Honestly, how many professionals are there with that CV in Spain or even Europe? But you may develop it, of course, I’m of the idea that everything can be achieved with time and effort. So, go for it!

Journal Citation Reports: Sources of its power in scholarly publishing

Journal Citation Reports: Sources of its power in scholarly publishingWhy Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters) has much influence in the academic publishing world? So much that it’s almost the only directory that is taken into account to evaluate the quality excellence of research or publications, except for a few fields of knowledge such as engineering, as far as I know.

And I find the sources of its power in its way to compete in the scholarly publishing market, and in quality of its service/product:

1. There is a clear need for directories and rankings of journals that provide us professors and scientists information about the relevance of publishing here our research, and Journal Citation Reports  (JCR) does it better than others.

  • JCR not only gives information about the influence and impact of scholarly research journals, but does so in an objective manner with citation data at subject category levels; although with its obvious limitations (most of their journals are in English and from Anglo-Saxon countries; citations are obtained only from its own indexed journals; and so on) as any other model or system.
  • Its star metric, Impact Factor, is a staple in the market, which now begins to be copied by other directories that nobody trust.
  • It gives us the information annually in a systematic manner. Other assessments by industry associations or institutions are made periodically, such as for example the prestigious Academic Journal Quality Guide Version 4 (The Association of Business Schools), but dates back to 2010.
  • Its access and use of the index is easy and online. I do it through my University portal, from home or where I need it.

2. Rigorous selection process of the journals listed in JCR

  • Journals are only accepted in the directory if they meet minimum quality standards, such as blind peer-review of manuscripts, an international editorial board, or a few years publishing volumes/issues without interruption, among others. This is in theory, because that sounds like a system of quality assurance, a kind of ISO accreditation.

3. Business model and the way to compete in the market

  • Although JCR belongs to a private company, which is logical because a public one won’t do it, it’s not edited by a publishing house, such as in the case of Scopus (Elsevier), but by an information and data company (Thomson Reuters), which makes JCR independent to some extent from the journals that it lists.
  • Most of its clients are organizations (universities, libraries and research centers), I guess, which give JCR a quick access to those scientific communities.
  • JCR does not compete on its own, the group Thomson Reuters provides many more services to scientists and academic institutions.

JCR has also been subject of much criticism, being its power the most important one. Proof of this are the popular initiatives that are being created around it, as repositories of articles or the Open Access movement. For example, it annoys me greatly that there is much pressure to publish not only in JCR listed journals, but that is required to do so in the first 2 quartiles of its impact factor ranking. I guess this is not an issue of JCR, but of ourselves scientists and scholars, and especially of the journals indexed there, who are literally besieged by authors and their papers.

Regardless whether good or bad that much power and influence to a single private company in the market for innovative ideas, JCR provides great value that can go also in favor of increasing the competition between scientists and so improving the quality of their research, but many think that it goes against the advancement of knowledge in general, do not you think?

Scientists love and hate academic web tools

The survey on which web tools scientists use for their research activity and its dissemination shows a very clear results: professors and researchers use web mainly tools for the analysis process (48%), and it couldn’t be otherwise. And then use dissemination tools (27%) such as social media platforms and repositories because of the increasing pressure of getting citations for their publications.

Scientists love and hate academic web tools

Which web tools do you use (or are necessary) for your research activity and its dissemination?

It’s striking that individually the type of web tools most used are directories of journals (take that!), which is a pretty clear indication of the concern of scientists for publishing in well indexed or listed journals. The problem is that there are hundreds of directories and databases, almost one for each country and area of ​​knowledge.

  • Good news, because sometimes I wonder if it makes sense a social network such us Gaudeamus, complementary to journal directories, which helps academics to network with journal editors and to share information and problems with other scientists when publishing their research …

But back to the poll, sometimes it’s not clear which specific use make researchers of some of the web tools and to what stage of the research process correspond:

  1. For example, the academic social websites, such as Researchgate or MyScienceWork, though are primarily used to share publications, they are also helpful in part to find collaborators and peers, at least in theory.
  2. Or citations and metrics and tools, because I use them just to see how my publications go shared, but they also serve to find references, specifically Google Scholar, usefull at different stages of the research process.

On the other hand, it is also worth noting that there are many tools for the research activity, we could see in the Graph that they are widely dispersed, and that it’s required a particular tool for each specific activity: to search information, share and organize documents, analyze data or then present the results.

In short, though scientists love academic web tools, it seems to me that they also represent the new slavery for scientific research, the typical love-hate relationship, don’t you think?

* The poll was posted in February 2014 in many academic discussion groups. Around 900 answers were collected.

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