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?

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How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum Vitae

Having research published in journals is not easy, especially if they are indexed in relevant data bases or with impact factor; so if we have a few, we’d better highlight them in the Curriculum Vitae.

How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum VitaeI’ve often found that the ones who review our Curriculums at universities have a limited knowledge about citations, indexed journals or impact factor, but instead our published articles are usually an important part to be considered when applying to an academic job vacancy. So you have to make your relevant publications easy to read for them.

To do it you just need to add to the publications the most relevant indexes or databases in their field of specialty, or best known, where the journals are listed: the two or three of each publication, not to overwhelm with information. Often the education ministry itself gives the criterion of the most important journal indexes for each field of specialty, among which usually always is mentioned ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters).

If you also worked hard and published in a high impact factor journal, you should also indicate it. As well as if their impact factor is in quartile 1 and 2, indicating both quartile and its position in the ranking of their field of knowledge.

For example, I’d introduce my last publication in the Curriculum Vitae as follows:

  • Hernandez Barros, R. and López Domínguez, I. (2013): “Integration Strategies for the Success of Mergers and Acquisitions in Financial Services Companies”, Journal of Business Economics and Management, Vol. 14 (5,), pp. 979-992. Journal indexed in ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters), Impact Factor (2012): 1,881 (Position 55/333 in ‘Economics’, Q1).

But for other indexed publications without impact factor, it would be something like:

  • Martínez Torre-Enciso, M.I. and Hernandez Barros, R. (2013). Operational risk management for insurers. International Business Research, Vol. 6 (1), 1-11. Journal indexed in: EconLit (EBSCO), DOAJ.

Moreover, different article categories can be used when listing our publications; for example, as is usually listed in many websites departments and universities:

  1. Articles in indexed journals
  2. Articles in other journals (refereed)
  3. Other articles, working papers, chapters, technical notes, …

Obviously there are more ways to do it, but this works, though it cost me some time to have it clear, so I share it with you.

Selecting the right journal for my recent academic article

Selecting the right journal for my recent academic articleI’m finishing an article for its publication, now I’m writing the last touches before submitting it to publish, so it already has all the ingredients required to be acceptable: introduction, thesis and problem statement, topic relevance, literature review, data analysis, findings, implications and conclusions; that is the hard part.

Now we have to select the right academic journal (the soft part) for our article. Since the research and methodology have good bases, and the results are interesting, we plan to send it first to a journal indexed in JCRJournal Citations Reports (Web or Knowledge), quartiles Q1 or Q2.

  • We’ve identified, during the literature review, the scientific journals that publish research on our field of knowledge; we obtained about 8/10 journals.
  • Then I reviewed the database Journal Citations Reports (JCR) to see their impact and quartile. There were about 4 or 5 high quartile journals in the selection.
    • Now I need to check in Gaudeamus, the network for publishing in academic journals, if there is a journal of our preference, and I’ll contact the editor to introduce him my paper to see if it fits there. I’ve already done it successfully a couple of times, before or after the previous point of identifying indexed journals.
    • If the journal is listed in Gaudeamus, it means that the editor is open and available to contact authors, and then it’s much easier than sending the papers directly to a cold e-mail using other databases or directories.

After that, we’ll investigate the few 3/4 remaining journals for adapting the paper to their style and preferences, getting to know the underside of them, as their editorial board, their owners or quality criteria. The most important thing is to find the journal that is looking for the kind of research and manuscript that we have written; this way we’d avoid sending our article to several journals, wasting our time and morale.

We’ll submit it first to 2 or 3 JCR Q1/Q2 journals, and see what kind of feedback we’re getting; if we have no success with them we’ll go for JCR Q3/Q4, Scopus or EBSCO journals. And we shouldn’t take rejections as a failure, you always get information to improve the paper or to better target ‘your’ journal.

What do you think of our approach? Do you do the same when selecting a journal?

Academic SEO for your research papers

Academic SEO for your research papersThe truth is that I hadn’t thought much of linking SEO and papers before, but it’s reasonable: to use the techniques of marketing from bloggers and websites to raise the visibility of our research. There is a document on the subject, from Wiley, Search Engine Optimization: For Authors, which is quite original, though in truth it doesn’t add much to what authors do naturally with their papers, but it gives you a very interesting twist on how to write (or varnish) your scientific articles.

Selling ​​your articles to obtain citations is not well seen in academia, but instead working on SEO it isn’t, that comes to be the same thing, so don’t worry, without realizing it you do SEO for your publications.

  • Academic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of transforming your research paper into one which is easily indexed and categorized by the search engines, and thereby more advantageously positioned to increase visibility and citations.

That an author alone could position his/her articles on Google is practically impossible, though you can do many things, as Wiley say in the above mentioned article, such as:

  1. Take care of the title, abstract and keywords thinking of SEO
  2. Write consistently and use headings
  3. Cite your own articles and those of the co-authors
  4. Promote your papers in the social and academic networks

I mean, those are the logical tips, and even the classical ones to round and disseminate a paper in the web 3.0 environment, but you can now comment about them without complexes: everything seemed so far as self-promotion, now with SEO language everything is politically correct, and even look foolish if you don’t do it.

But don’t forget that the main tool of SEO is the very journal where you publish, or the publishing platform, that is well positioned as Wiley’s in this case; this by itself can generate more than 90% of a paper positioning on the searches. What doesn’t change anything to what is being done so far, that the platform for disseminating research is the important thing; so that simultaneously leaves a glimmer of hope for other innovative platforms such as repositories; there is the successful SSRN.

So take it easy, because everything in academic research always leads to the same thing: the base is good research, plan well the impact, and publish in the right journal for your paper. Almost nothing! And in the meanwhile don’t forget the SEO thing, for having done all you should do to increase your prestige and personal brand.

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

What a surprise! There have been fewer responses than in other polls, I thought that there were more interest on this topic, but the results are clear on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index.

Is Google Scholar a good indicator of your quality of research activity and influence?

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

* The poll was posted in October 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 470 answers were collected.

Although Google Scholar is open and reliable because it treats scholars equally, it’s not considered to be a good indicator of quality of research activity and influence. It’s incredible and difficult to digest because I had a hope in this. So I guess what you can think of Altmetric, which is based on an ample idea of impact, not just on academic production…

The reasons for these results are implicit in the survey because, if on the one hand these metrics provide useful public information, on the other hand I understand that, in general, H-Index metrics have the following barriers:

  1. It adds pressure on researchers.
  2. No organization seems to be looking seriously at them.
  3. Not many people are using them, because their citations are poor comparing with those of some champions in the sciences, and because is another annoying tool to take care of.
  4. And mainly because it is still considered that journals are a better indicator of quality of research.

Well okay, I get it, we’ll look at the individual metrics but focusing on publishing in indexed journals. I don’t think that in the medium term this will change much, peer-review will remain the king of research quality assessment, and makes perfect sense.

But instead, for journals these results are a triumph and a shot of adrenaline. The road for them is to be indexed in well-known databases and be open to open access to allow authors to be cited and have an impact, isn’t it?

POLL: Do you bet your future as a researcher on Google Scholar metrics?

POLL: Do you bet your future as a researcher on Google Scholar metrics?The journals’ world is boiling: Internet and Open Access is questioning the indexed journals’ model, from anonymity in peer review to the selection criteria of the directories or databases, and the calculation of the journal impact indicators.

An alternative model to measure the quality of research are the personal citation indexes (H-index), which allow open tools, accessible and public such us Google Scholar; although, there are also private metrics, or at a cost, as Altmetric.

  • The change is motivated because the indexed journals’ model doesn’t just convince scientists, because of the power that some journals and private directories have. But it is producing an undesirable effect, that the two models are used now to evaluate the quality of research, with the danger of drowning professors and scientists even more.
  • And paradoxically, journals are also pressured in some way, because now they have to ‘promise’ implicitly that their published articles will be cited more with them.

Google Scholar metrics are here to stay. What do you think? Do you bet on your citation appeal?

* It can be chosen 1 o 2 answers.
**Comments are highly encouraged.

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?

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?

POLL: The current use of open access journals

POLL: the current use of open access journalsOpen access (OA) journals has been one of the main drivers of change in the academic publishing world in the last decades, and OA will still shape the future of assessment of research quality and scientific dissemination thanks to the Internet and Web 3.0 technology.

Behind this situation is the urgent demand of professors and researchers who need to publish in indexed journals (quality of research) but also expect their work to be accessible to a wider audience (citations), pressed by faculties and promotion.

And what are you doing with your papers? Are you using OA journals? What about fake or predatory journals/businesses? There are still some questions to be clarified. Please share with us your use as author of OA journals participating in the survey.

* OA: Open access

** It can be chosen 1 or 2 answers.

***Comments are highly encouraged.

Citation impact workouts

citation impact workoutsOnce you’ve published in a journal, nothing changes too much, the pressure to publish each year remains. So researching and writing should be ongoing: it is a cycle that feeds back and helps us to improve as professors and researchers, and to make an impact on our area of expertise.

Although the main focus should be on research and writing good papers, and knowing that the current citation system could be improved, we should somewhat consider the selling of our publications, helping to disseminate our paper with some activities in the current web 3.0 system; on what I have called “citation impact workouts” (summarized from my latest eBook “Publish in Journals 3.0:  from Manuscript to Citations”, released in September).

Workouts to do before the articles are published:

  1. Publish in indexed and open-access journals, if possible with impact factor.
  2. Standardize your name and affiliation to ease the collection of citations received.
  3. Be strategic about the title and abstract, using key and findable words.
  4. Write in English.

Workouts to do after the papers are published:

  1. Set up a link to your article on your webpage, either your own or your university’s.
  2. Include your papers in your profile in social networks as LinkedIn, Facebook or even Twitter.
  3. Circulate a summary, just before publication, to your friends and colleagues.
  4. Mention your paper in your blog, if you write any.

In conclusion, 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.

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