Poll: reasons when selecting a journal to submit a paper

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Choosing the journal where to send our paper is critical for two main reasons:

  • Objective factors. The main thing is that it fits in our publication strategy: indexed, with impact factor, peer reviewed, open access, among other criteria.
  • Subjective factors. Then, and not the least, we have to find the journal that is looking for the kind of research and manuscript that we have written. This way we could avoid sending our paper to multiple journals, wasting our time and morale.
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Worst practices for misconduct authors

arbitroThere are several ideas going around in my head regarding the reasons for the growing plagiarism in academic publications and that someone is willing to get into this game for money:

  • There is great pressure to publish.
  • Capitalism is pervading everything.
  • In general, professors are not well paid.
  • Some publishing activities are not remunerated, as academic editor or peer review.

And trying to clarify this issue in blogs and online discussions, I have been able to make a list of the types of plagiarism that currently exist, that could be seen as the worst practices for pirate-authors:

  • Plagiarism: kidnapping or appropriation of others thoughts and ideas without acknowledging its source.
  • Self-plagiarism or recycling fraud: reuse of your own texts without attributing previous publication.
  • Ghost writing: write books, articles or other texts that are credited to another person, generally for money.
  • Honorary authorship: include authors in a publication without adding value or contributing, inflating its credentials.
  • Duplicate publication: use your own publications more than once, changing the title and abstract.
  • Salami slicing: creating several short publications out of material that could have, perhaps more validly, been published as a single article in a journal or review.
  • Remix or mosaic plagiarism: mixing several publications to obtain more publishable units.
  • Image and data manipulation: modify data and results to obtain another document for publication.

It is amusing and dangerous at the same time the combination of some of the above activities, such as ghost writing and plagiarism, it would be that you pay for an article to be written but that in turn is plagiarized, so at the end, apart from wasting your money, you may run many risks, as the reputational one.

I am not sure before, but now with open access and the Internet is becoming easier to detect plagiarism of any of the existing types. Recently in Spain a professor has been condemned for plagiarizing a chapter of a student. In line with those worst practices above, the article could have been coauthored with the student – that is, the professor adds his name and the student the content, or that he did not even remember that it was not his? But I guess believing to be very smart is worse than plagiarism.

Q&A. The peer-review process from inside a journal

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues, Bachelor in Management, Master in Production Engineering and pursuing PhD in Mechanical Engineering. From 2008 to 2012 was a member of the organizing committee of the National Production Engineering (ENEGEP). From 2008 to 2010 was a member of the organization committee the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (ICIEOM) and National Meeting of Coordinators of Production Engineering (ENCEP). From 2008 to 2011 published five book chapters in Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL). From 1989 to 2004 he worked as an analyst for computer support, providing services to companies such as HP, Compaq and IBM. From 2008 to 2011 was a professor of Business Administration courses and Sugarcane Production Technologist at Sacred Universidade do Sagrado Coração (USC) in Bauru, SP, Brazil. Since 2011 he has been exclusively dedicated to teaching in technical courses in Agribusiness and Events, at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo (IFSP). In 2010 he started the project of the scientific journal Independent Journal of Production & Management, which seeks to dedicate his free moments for the management and dissemination of the Journal.

The IJM&P is a journal for unpublished works related to Administration and Engineering of Production and Mechanics and Economics as well as works that present results of studies and researches about the activities of Science and Technology Information. The Journal is published on a semester-by-semester basis in June and December and is Indexed in several databases.

Gaudeamus: Peer review is a standard requirement for a journal. Do you foresee any changes in the future about this quality system?

Paulo Cesar Chagas: Yes. It is a standard to have a journal peer review. We do not intend to change this pattern, it is a way to try to get an unbiased review about the work we are subjected, and enable us to curb potential abuse cases. For example, a reviewer who does not like a given researcher say that his/her work is bad or to be sympathetic to say that the work is excellent.

G: What are the main challenges an Editor faces regarding peer review?

PCC: Nowadays I see as a major challenge in peer review: (a) The commitment of some of the reviewers regarding the pre-determined deadlines, which are informed when sending the invitation. (b) Not to overload reviewers with too much work because it means having reviews with a low standard of quality. (c) Monitor and analyze the discrepancies in the evaluation, etc.

G: How do journals find good peer reviewers for your journal?

PCC: While searching good reviewers we try to make invitations to researchers who have an affinity for the areas that the journal intends to act and who: (a) Are linked to postgraduate programs. (b) Reviewers mainly from international congresses. (c) Authors who have at least a master’s degree and who are or wish to attend the PhD and have published interesting papers in international journals and conferences. (d) Through the contact network we created, for example, the group created in Gaudeamus or Linkedin. (e) Other reviewers of journals that we eventually have contact. But we also tried to assess the level of commitment of the reviewer regarding deadlines for review, the contributions they make to the articles they assess, because our goal is not only to publish many works, but works with quality and that contribute to the academy and society.

G: Does the perfect peer reviewer exist? How should she/he be?

PCC: In my opinion there is no perfect reviewer because we are human beings and therefore flawed. We can be affected by a number of variables, e.g. fatigue, stress, depression, overwork, family problems, financial and/or professional issues, etc.

Supposedly, publishers should worry about overwork, check if reviewers can assess, thank for the commitment to evaluate a particular article and meet deadlines.

G: Do you think that being a peer reviewer is important for a professor? Why?

PCC: It is certainly important because when a teacher will prepare your lesson or material support, (s)he cannot focus only on books, but also articles and opinions of others, so be participating as a reviewer and even as a researcher/author will help create more interesting lessons and current information, you can provide your students current examples.

I often tell my students: a good book may come up at bookstores and libraries with a delay of at least 2 years of the start of the research that generated it, due to adjustments and corrections. Like an article, a book must go through the evaluation and the rating of reviewers which can take months, not to mention the other phases.

G: Finally, what advice would you give to peer reviewers? (For example, how many articles to review a month or how much time dedicate to each review?, etc.)

PCC: Observe the policies of the journal regarding: (a) The deadlines for evaluation. (b) The amount of articles that will be submitted for evaluation by edition. (c) If the journal has affinity with their research area. (d) If the journal states the responsibilities of authors, (and) if you have a conflict of interest related to the policy. (e) If it presents the mission, vision and goal of the journal. (f) If it keeps an updated list of reviewers who evaluated the course articles over the years, etc.

But I also see that the prospective reviewers should bother to provide the greatest possible amount of information for the journal they are applying for, as an instance the area and method of research, and a brief professional biography.

Marketing your papers to make an impact: poll conclusions

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The poll was posted in March 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 650 answers were collected and many hot comments. The question was:  What do you do MOST to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited? And the results are:

  • Include the papers in your website and social profiles                                28.0%
  • Publish in indexed and open access journals                                                25.4%
  • Distribute  research early as working papers or tech reports                     16.0%
  • Active selling (promote it on web discussions, blogs, etc.                          12.2%
  • Other activities                                                                                                         4.2%
  • I do nothing                                                                                                            10.0%
  • I do not believe in impact indicators                                                                   4.2%

I have two comments. The first one is about the activities undertaken by professors, that apart from those mentioned above, it has also been discussed some others:

  • Publish with other scholars could help to increase the impact of the article. Research suggests that an article with co-authors is more cited than articles with just one author.
  • Be really strategic about your abstract and your title. Put key words in your title that will make them more likely to be picked up by search engines.
  • Twiter. Here I would mention that active selling in general is a laborious task, it is not enough posting it once at each website or discussion, it should be done regularly and with originality to not be a pain in the neck.

The other comment is on the activity of marketing your articles itself, it has not been accepted as expected, since for example almost 15% of the professors do nothing or do not believe in this citation system; particularly among the publishing industry professionals, which have come to qualify this activity as “snake oil salesman”, although they should be delighted, because professors are willing to be involved in disseminating their publications.

My conclusion is that, although the main focus should be on research and writing good papers, of course, the current imperfect but vital citation system prompts us professors to take action and be active sellers of our publications. Who dares to suggest professors to do nothing? To be passive?

Plagiarism is not unnatural

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This idea that plagiarism is not unnatural is very powerful, and the phrase is not mine, I copied it to a professor in a discussion on this topic in the social networks. The university (by the reports of students) and publishing world (by the papers in their journals) are concerned about plagiarism, as it is estimated that the level of plagiarism of digital content will reach 63% by 2014.

Now it’s easy to copy because technology facilitates it and there are much information available on the Internet, although it is a double-edged sword, because it will be increasingly difficult to say something new that is not in the network and also because there are increasingly better tools to detect plagiarism.

According the same estimates, more than half of the students think that plagiarism is natural and do not give it importance. Therefore, the best anti-plagiarism tool is to follow the work of each student. I’m tutoring several undergraduate and graduate theses, and the best guarantee is the weekly or monthly monitoring with the student, seeing their ideas, problems, their evolution, etc.

But this cannot be done with journals, as editors cannot track authors the same (we only need that!), but they have many options:

  • Set journal rules about previously published works. Now with open access is easier to know if there is something similar published.
  • Choose quality authors: university professors, PhD, academic affiliation, among other checks.
  • Use anti plagiarism tools to review manuscripts.
  • And there is always the peer reviewer filter, which will give a good look at the manuscript.

Returning to the main topic, we humans learn by imitating others, that’s how we improve as a species, allowing for the transfer of information between individuals and generations. Therefore, if plagiarism is not unnatural, what needs to be done is cite the sources, preferably by going to the original source, and use old ideas to build something new and give value to what we are providing. Well, that’s why the review of literature is an important part of a paper.

As professors, we lead and train generations, do you put enough emphasis on this issue? Do you teach students how to cite and deal with plagiarism?

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