Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

There are many pressures for change regarding the dissemination of research, such as the current Web 3.0. technology environment in education, open access journals/repositories and the consolidation of citation metrics tools.

Professors and researchers shared with us their vision about the future of publishing, voting in the poll.

Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

Indexed journals have been adding high value to all academic stakeholders, and they will be.

Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

In general, it could be seen in the results a balance between the traditional (48%) and the alternative (52%) means of dissemination in academia, but there are other conclusions quite interesting:

  1.  “Open access journals/directories with peer review” was the preferred mean of dissemination, with 29% of the votes; it makes sense due to the expectation that citation rankings are creating.
  2. Both added, “Indexed journals” + “impact factor”, would be the most voted (39%); the current journal system still prevails.
  3. “Repositories with peer review” + “number of downloads”, were voted by 21% of respondents, opening an interesting way to new alternatives for the dissemination of scientific knowledge in academia.

Traditional vs Alternative

Professors are rational people with common sense, we understand that change is needed in the system, but little by little, as it is working reasonably well. It’s like we will be waiting to see how those changes develop and how journals and publishing houses respond to them. Sure they do well.

* The poll was posted in June 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 900 answers were collected. 

POLL: The future of research quality assessment

The main drivers of change regarding the assessment of research quality and its dissemination are the current Web 3.0. technology environment in education, open access journals/repositories and the consolidation of citation metrics tools.

Indexed journals have been adding high value to all academic stakeholders: professor, researchers, publishers, editors, professionals, universities, faculties and libraries; but has arrived the time for journals to change?

journal burning

Shape the future of publishing voting in the poll. Share with us your vision.

Tomorrow belongs to cites

openaccess Over the last decades, journal rankings moved from something only a few librarians cared about to something that is now critical to the future of professors and researchers. The same thing could happen to the individual citation metrics.

  • Internet and open access movement is urging academia to reconsider the current model of research assessment, journal rankings and each of the phases of the publishing process, such as the private citation system, the growing role of repositories, the subscription and payment model , and even the peer review and impact indicators.
  • Assessment of quality of research activity is needed, either of the journal, or research activity of department or individual, no one doubts it, the problem is what type; the ideal would be all of them. Some countries do this, they rate individual academics by levels, for example in UK (REF), Australia (EIA) or Spain (ANECA), having into account many more things, such as teaching assignments, research centers or stays in international universities.
  • We have now journal rankings, but it will probably have less relevance in the future with open access, though it could be more necessary in the short term due to the initial confusion with the evaluation of research quality. If the move is to individual cites, and its calculations are improved, for example with a bias corrector by field of knowledge and years of experience, why the need of journal rankings and impact factors?, one could go directly to estimate individual cites and see the quality and prestige of the researcher, are there anything more real and tangible than cites?

This brings me again to the old question ever, publish/cited or perished? That is, the pressure to profs. I wonder if the same assessments could be made to other professionals, such as judges, politicians or even bankers. Don’t you think so?

Marketing your papers to make an impact: poll conclusions


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?

The research process and web 2.0 skills for academics

Throughout the research process, professors have to develop a variety of multidisciplinary activities quite different and complex. The purpose of this blog post is to display the high-level phases of the research process and suggest the web 2.0 skills we need to develop for the success in our research and its dissemination.

web 2.0

1.     Research project definition, funding and collaboration 

At this stage, apart from the ideas and projects that are coming or you want to do, you need ability to raise funds and engage others to research with you, though you can do it alone and without resources, of course.  Both are not easy to get, but it can help if your research curriculum and publications are available and if you are known as an expert in your field of knowledge. This is what you would do to find collaborators, but it takes time, you do not build relationships overnight, so keep participating in web forums and assisting regularly to academic events and conferences.

2.     Research activity

Apart from the specific software needed for your research, you should also have to use open access repositories and libraries containing dissertations and working papers, as sources for documenting your research or having access to the current literature and methodologies about your research project.  There are now other web tools that can help you at this stage, as bookmarking internet pages and programs that enable you to share files with your collaborators.

3.     Publish in journals

Once you finished your research, there are some key activities to make your work published, as to think of what you want to do with the research, write the draft articles, and choose the journal where to publish. At this moment of the process it will be of great value having web 2.0 tools to connect with journal editors and seek help about how to get your research published in journals. You know that we are building Gaudeamus – the network for publishing in academic journals, and I am producing this blog, where you can find methods and thoughts to improve the chances of being published in indexed journals.

4.     Share your publications

This is an increasingly important skill for researchers, some publishers find it disgusting (one of them called me “snake oil salesman” in a web discussion on this topic), but it should be the opposite, because they would have an army of authors promoting their journals. Among the activities to be undertaken to promote your publications would be to include your papers in your website, your profile in Linkedin, FB or other communities; or active selling, as promoting your manuscripts in web discussions, blogs, or conferences.

Too many things to do for a professor to make an impact, apart from doing activities such as teaching and consulting. I really think that academics are one of a kind, don’t you think so?

How to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited?

citationThe dissemination and impact of research for academics is increasingly vital, either to find a position/tenure or to earn prestige. And this impact is being measured by some publishing companies by the number of citations that your publications have from other authors.

Although the main focus should be on research and writing good papers, and knowing that  the current citation system could be improved, we should also consider to sell our publications a little bit; let’s call it “citation marketing”.

What do you do to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited?

1. Distribute early your research as working papers or technical reports.

2. Include your papers in your website, your profile in Linkedin, FB or other communities.

3. Publish in indexed and open access journals.

4. Active selling, as promoting your manuscripts in web discussions, blogs, or conferences.

5. Other activities (please add them in the comments).

6. I do nothing.

7. I do not believe in impact indicators.

Impact factor (II). Better publications?


As we discussed in last post, there are two basic ideas around impact factor: you have to publish your research work in indexed journals and there are many indicators to measure the impact of your research work; like the example we cited last week, Ahmad Hariri, a ‘google scholar champion’. Moreover,

3.- Impact indicators are not the perfect system to measure the impact of our research work…

Since its inception, there were problems with impact indicators, primarily because scholars realized that some manuscripts which lacked scientific and methodological basis to have great influence ended being classified as high impact ones, because:

  • Most of the authors do not read all documents before referencing them, as many times it is only cited those authors that are expected to be cited, or that publications are not referenced to avoid benefiting your peers and other worst practices.
  • Others claim that references used in other papers are copy pasted, so a document already cited is more likely to be cited again (accumulative advantage).
  • Or even the fact that errors are common in reference lists (occurring at a high percentage of all references), which affect the accuracy of the impact factor indicators.

4.- …but it is the current system to evaluate your research activity, use it to your advantage:

As you can see, there is not a single source to measure the influence of your publications, so do not get obsessed or idolize one in particular. Think that this system is what we have, so try to be in all of them (nor easy and takes time), publishing in journals indexed in several databases, because always there is going to be someone (scholar or faculty) who is going to give more relevance to one indicator than to others. And use the journals metrics and indexes to consider where to publish your next research.

It is also possible to work a little bit to make your publications visible, so that other scholars could find and cite them, as publishing in open access journals, signing always the same way or trying to disseminate your publications in internet.

In summary, you are obliged to publish in indexed journals, no matter the flaws of the impact factors or who are calculating them, and you’d better learn to use Google Scholar Metrics because it is changing our current impact factor and indexing system, don’t you think so?


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.

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