Impact factor (I). The “Golden calf”

There is little more to write that has not already been written about impact factors and journal indexation systems.

Anyway, we still have some questions: why is scientific research evaluated this way? Is there only one kind of impact factor? Who is calculating them? What is the relationship between impact factors and journal databases? Could I do something to enhance the impact of my publications?

Let us make a list of four bullets about this discussion:

1. You have to publish your research work, but in indexed journals.

The inclusion of a journal in a relevant citation index or database , such as Web of Knowledge (Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier), EBSCOhost (EBSCO Publishing) or DOAJ (Sparc),  ensures that your research activity, if published there, meets certain minimum quality requirements and has some impact on society.

And this is significant because universities use it to select candidates or to allocate funds for research, though it is not the only criteria used, of course, they also take into account the other aspect of your scholarly curriculum, as your teaching experience or your previous activity in research centers, among others

2. There are many indicators to measure the impact of your research work.

The impact factor is a concept that emerged in the mid-twentieth century to help librarians to categorize through citations the relevance of the publications and manuscripts. It is calculated by taking the total number of citations a journal has received in the past year and dividing by the total number of articles it has published in the previous two years. The h-index, on the other hand, measures the impact of the published work of a scientist, based on the number of citations that they have received in other publications.

The best known ones are the Impact Factor (for journals Contained In Web of Knowledge /  Thomson Reuters) and the SJR (SCImago Journal Rank, for journals Contained in Scopus / Elsevier), so it is important to know that they belong to publishing companies, and they measure the impact of the manuscripts published in the journals indexed in their databases, which is a small percentage of all journals available in the world, and are estimated in a given period of time (two to three years).

Now search engines as Google Scholar Metrics or CiteSeer (financed by Microsoft Research) provide another measure (freely available online) for authors to gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications, taking all kind of journals (indexed or not) and books.

ahmad hariri

* In the image, Ahmad Hariri, professor of Neurosciences (Drake University), a ‘google scholar’ champion that will be mentioned in the second part of this article. 

** in the next article, we will discuss if impact indicators are the right system to measure the impact of a research work and what to use in advantage.

Benchmark with your peers: Q&A with a prolific PhD Fellow

Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri
Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri is currently enrolled in the PhD program at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia. Previously, He has been working as lecturer and independent researcher. At the present, Arsalan is working as research team member in a project granted by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. His research interests are marketing practices and data analysis. Arsalan is a prolific fellow: has produced 39 publications (3 monographs+36 research papers) in 8 different countries in two and a half years

Gaudeamus. How do you manage your time to do research?

Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri. Maybe its difficult to find time for research for others, but in this case, gym, jogging, sleeping, research… working could be included in my hobby list. I devote 6-8 hours daily to some kind of research.

G. What drives you to publishing in journals?

AMG. Initially, when I start thinking about writing a research paper, I felt it impossible. But in first attempt, my paper took 4 revisions and accepted in around 2 years in Saudia Arabia. That was my starting and turning point, and after I got 4-5 publications, people recognize me as researcher and writer, which drives me to do more research work and help others.

G. How do you choose the journals where to publish?

AMG. My first preference is quality of  published articles, indexing and the country of journal.

G. How many articles do you publish a year? Do you have any pressure to publish?

AMG. As being PhD candidate, the requirement is to publish 2 articles in PhD tenure. I’ve 39 publications (3 monographs + 36 research articles) in 8 different countries in 3 years.

G. You are editor of some open access journals, what is your motivation to do it as an academic?

AMG. Basically this is the aspect of my life which I never think about. This is a privilege for me as an associate editor of four different journals and reviewer for two journals. Maintaining a journal is an achievement for an academician, working as a driver for me to keep on this work.

G. What advice would you give to novel researchers regarding publishing in journals?

AMG. Produce a paper or thesis is a learning and slow process. According to me, a person need five different skills to write a paper/ thesis.

  • 1st, Try to be fine to prove your point for conducting research,
  • 2nd Develop techniques in searching and extracting the related material from the Internet/ libraries and research articles,
  • 3rd Become an expert in statistics and applications,
  • 4th Make an effort to interprete the scenario you face after getting results,
  • 5th Try to become an advisor which can dig out key advices/ findings from the interpretations.

I am still a learner, and I’ll suggest that don’t be in hurry to get expertise in five above discussed skills, be patient, take your time, practice will gonna make you perfect…

The world through the editor eyes

i had a journal dreamI have a dream that one day I will set up a journal on finance and risks, as I had a dream of writing a blog, and it happened, so the journal will arrive… though I am not sure where it will bring me as an academic.

I wonder if in the open access world that awaits us, we authors will be able to publish articles without the need of journals. In the meantime, the tasks involved to manage a journal are not little thing:
• Management and editorial issues: indexations, manage the team, print publication logistics.
• Promote the journal, search subscribers.
• Search for editors, peer reviewers, copy editors, content and board members.
• Seek more funds: grants, sponsors.
• Maintain the web page, platform and processes.
• Review submissions if they fit the journal editorial line, quality, scope and readers.
• Send papers for peer review, follow reviewers, collect answers and share feedback.
• Communicate with authors.
• Control plagiarism and copyright guidelines.
• Etc.

But with our own journals, we will be ‘Free at last!’(M.Luther King, 1963):
• You and your department will earn prestige and visibility disseminating knowledge and helping others to publish.
• You will strengthen your academic network, finding board members, editors, reviewers and content.
• You will improve your curriculum, though I am not sure to what extent.
• You can make some cash for your department research and publications, but I am not sure how much.

And you, professor, have you ever had that dream? Will it make you a better academic? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages? Alone or with co-editors? Think about it as you prepare your draft paper and choose the journal where you wish to publish.

Journals that ask for money: poll conclusions

will you publish in journals with fees?

will you publish in journals with fees?

This poll was posted in January 2013 in different academic forums, 250 answers were collected and approximately 75 comments. The question was: will you publish in an indexed journal that charges you fees? And the results are: 39,60% Yes, 60,40% No.
poll results

Regarding the question in itself, it was a closed one, with no option to answer ‘it depends on’, because it would have been the preferred one.

My summary on the issue and your comments are:

1. Journals have no access to funds; they have a lot of expenses to make the journal attractive to authors, and that is why they ask for a fee.
2. Journal editors feel uncomfortable and somehow ashamed about this issue.
3. If the fee is reasonable, not higher than around 300 dollars, it is worthwhile the investment for the author, but only if the journal is well indexed and open access.
4. Authors are able to pay this amount if they share the fees with co-authors and they get some help from their university.

1. Some authors from developing countries find 300 dollars out of their reach, even with co-authorship and university refund, if any. And this upset scholars in general because is pretty unfair and incompatible with open opportunities, and that this system is closing the doors to some knowledge to be disseminated.
2. Moreover, academics feel uneasy with all this issue, they do not understand that some journals owners earn a profit and they do not pay for content or peer review. It is like they were taking advantage of the necessity of scholars to publish in indexed journals, and again, is unfair.
3. May be the ethics of some journals/publishers are questionable but I think that the model itself is beneficial for the industry. The challenge is about the knowledge (innovative, reliable, reputable, biased, ethical, etc.) not about who pays for it or its dissemination.

Charging fees to authors is an uncomfortable necessity for journals, which work because is based on the obligation for scholars to publish in journals. Well, it makes sense as a business but, was it not all about knowledge and its dissemination? Who can improve this system? Governments? Market itself? Technology?…

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