Women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

I am passionate about the issue of women and academia; well, generally in everything that has to do with higher education and publications. Here I found several different issues, on two different levels.

The first level has to do with women’s access to higher education, which I won’t go this time. The other level is more sophisticated, if I can use the expression, and includes two issues in particular:

  1. The first is why women don’t have access to full professor positions, which I wrote about obliquely in another post about self-citations; being the reason, in short, their publications in journals.
  2. And the other is why there are fewer women holding professorships in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which is what I will discuss or reflect here (women academics on fire, the sciences on ice).

The other day I received a McKinsey article on women; articles that are almost always good and interesting. It was called ‘How to attract US women to the sciences’, and was saying that “compared with their counterparts elsewhere, American women shun STEM fields of knowledge”.

The reasoning i not simple: it is not that science appeals less to women, or that they make it worse than men, which is almost the opposite, at least in high school (Mckinsey, 2013); but that they are less interested in choosing these types of grades at college. In other words, in general, women are not attracted to STEM sciences as a career option, the place where they will spend the rest of their lives….

  • And going further, it is not that women are not interested at all, it is that the alternatives are better, at least in developed countries, such as business, nursing or law (academic) careers; which now have better or equal prestige and opportunities than that of the STEM areas.
  • Additionally, it appears that academic careers in STEM areas are less rewarding for women, at least in terms of publications, since female scientists often get less credit than a comparatively male researcher, even if their work is similar.

If this is really so, that STEM science careers in academia is not so attractive to women, what can be done? Should we do something? Even if women themselves are against it? It may also be that women are not fascinated by the idea of ​​being in an academic world in which their work is less valued, even by themselves, and this indeed can be changed.

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Open Access Journals: The model that would be king. Poll results

Open Access Journals - The model that would be king - Poll results2The topic of Open Access (OA) has already been widely discussed in academia and currently it is a common reality in the publishing world, but there are still some doubts and suspicions on the part of scientists, as we shall see.

Are you submitting your articles to open access journals? was the question of the poll, and at first glance its results are clearly optimistic: we love this OA model.

  1. 62% of the respondents would submit their articles to OA journals.
  2. 35% would send it, but after good analysis of the OA journal: indexation, impact factor and fees to authors, which make sense anyway.
  3. 23% of professors wouldn’t, which is a pretty high percentage of them.
  4. 15% of them don’t mind about OA, they just mind about journal indexation, so I suppose they care little about their citations.
Open Access Journals: The model that would be king. Poll results

* The poll was posted in August 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 700 answers were collected.

But we have to keep in mind the bias of the sample, because it corresponds to professors and researchers who routinely use technology and internet. That is, within the cream of the crop, 38% (23% +15% above) still remains some skepticism about sending their papers to OA journals.

On the other hand, another reading of the results is that OA journals are acceptable for scientists, but only if they meet certain minimum traditional academic etiquette (and of common sense): quality, indexed, peer-review and reputation of their board.

My impression is that although OA has been with us for decades, that publishers are making good use of it and that authors need it because it represents a clear advantage, it has yet to completely establish itself as a model. But, who wants to miss this train of OA journals?

Writing a paper, an overvalued skill?

writing a paper, an overvalued skill?With the publication and promotion of my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’, I am learning a lot about academic books. For example, I discovered that on Amazon there are hundreds of books on how to write a paper: with different names, in different sizes, general ones and specialized in different fields of knowledge, such as social sciences or biology.

Only this fact gives an idea of ​​the interest of professors and PhD students for writing well, giving then, in the process of publishing in journals, greater importance to the writing part of the paper, but this process consists of several stages:

  1. Research activity
  2. Plan the impact (or setting the strategy for publication)
  3. Construct (write) the manuscript
  4. Interact with the elements (journals, tools, editors, peer-reviewers)
  5. Share your publications

I think that the quality of any paper is given by the research activity, methodology used and contribution, which should the center of all this, not the writing of the article. The writing would appear in a second level of priority. In the third place would be networking with editors.

So going a bit further, I wonder if some scientists believe that a well-written paper can fix a bad research activity. In order to not to be too strict, I guess that it could do it in some cases, depending on the editors, peer-reviewers and the type of journals; after all, publishing a paper consists of various activities and skills, as mentioned before.

Leaving aside the personal ability of each academic to write, in theory it is assumed that the content and structure of a paper should be taught in the universities, during the PhD, with the tutor; but we know that this is not entirely true, it depends on our interest. In the end, for improving this writing skill, we need to read other journals, consult books and blogs, and pay some attention to the comments from the editors and peer-reviewers.

The truth is that I had underestimated the interest of scientists for writing well, so I’ll pay to it more attention in the future. And you? What are you doing to write better?

Self-citations, is it worth to work on them?

self-citations, is it worth doing them?Last week an article in The Economist (Promotion and Self-Promotion) treated the subject of self-citations in academia as common practice, but it did so to justify why women get less important academic positions than men in all fields of knowledge, because it looks like that female scientists cite less their own previous work when publish a paper their male peers.

    • Articles with all-male authors are more highly cited than papers with all-female ones, about 5 times, with an average of 25 citations per publication. And this is caused partly because male researchers self-cite more often.

Being cited is increasingly important, we don’t only need to publish in indexed journals with impact factor (citations of the journal), but it is also looked at the number of citations that our publications have. How far will this pressure go?

Thus, self-publishing is a way, at least in the short term, to increase citations, which arises a number of questions:

  1. In general, self-citations are seen as a form of self-promotion, and are therefore not well regarded, but, who are looking at the details of citations?
  2. If the article is written by several authors, is it self-citation? Is it less objectionable?
  3. Citations are dependent on many factors, such as your field of knowledge, the journal impact factor, the interest generated, etc… so, is it good enough the current citation metrics system?

The author of ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’, John Gray, holds a very interesting theory in his latest book (Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice): That women get to lower directive positions because they have less testosterone, that is, less ambition; that at some point in their careers they conform with what they have because of all the rest of activities that they have to do, as mothers, educators, housework, etc (as many men do, too). The truth is that this theory convinces me more than self-citations as a driver for promotion as professor.

Do you self-cite?  Or in other words, are you a male or female researcher?

Get your free eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’

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  • ‘Aimed at hungry professors, wanting to build a consistent int’l curriculum and experience, who look for approaching the publishing process in a smart and agile way’

Get your free eBook ‘Publish ijn Journals 3.0’

Giveaway dates: Sept 6 to Sept 22, 2013

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Buy the eBook in amazon.com and look inside.

New eBook: ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’

With this new eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0: From Manuscript to Citations‘, my idea was to develop a useful model to help professors to publish in journals, since we live in a very demanding academic world, in an Internet web 3.0 environment, with information overload and many changes ahead.

New eBook: Publish in Journals 3.0This eBook is focused on how you can organize to effectively publish in journals, so it doesn’t replace the other books written on certain parts of the process, as writing an article. What I’ve tried to provide is a comprehensive but simple model, based on a spider web:

  1. The spider is the professor, who has to build his/her network and publications.
  2. The silk is the raw material of the papers; that is, the research.
  3. The elements of nature are Internet, Open Access, and Web tools 3.0; but also journals, editors, publishers, peer-reviewers, and many more.
  4. The prey of the web would be the citations from other academics.

The eBook, in principle, is directed to all fields of knowledge, so it’s a bit general, but I intend to continue writing more books on this intriguing subject. This is just the beginning.

Regarding the format, it’s only available as an electronic book because I bet on the Internet, the paperless world and on making it accessible to all professors and scientists, wherever they are. The initial selling price is less than $10, though Amazon then manages it as appropriate.

During the eBook promotion in this month of September, we are preparing a giveaway with the chance to win a few copies for free download, which we will communicate conveniently through this blog, GAUDEAMUS, and the social networks.

I’m also very interested to hear your opinion and suggestions about the eBook.

Many thanks and I hope you find it worth reading.

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