Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-index

Although the h-index is well known, I didn’t know that it may have some value, but it does! Such as a minimum requirement for certain academic positions; something that I had never seen before, and I have reviewed many academic job posts for years on the internet from all universities in the world!

Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-indexTo illustrate it, I’ve recently received the following academic job offer:

  • From the Department of International Relations we share with you this call for professors of sociology, economics and history interested in pursuing an academic stay at Saint Petersburg State Polytechinical University (Russian Federation). Candidates should have at least 2 points in the Hirsch index”.

H-index is, for a given researcher, the number h of publications that are cited at least h times each in academic journals. For example, my h-index is 2 (Finance) because I have 2 papers cited 2 or more times each; the rest of my publications have only 1 (or none) citation each. And to get a 3 h-index, these other papers would have to be cited at least twice, and that would mean 3 articles cited at least 3 times each.

But this so convoluted thing seems to work, at least within the same field of knowledge. So the pirates that wrote the announcement knew what they were doing, and thus I guess they avoid reviewing and/or analyzing (with love and care) a lot of requests, such as those who do not understand the h-index, those do not maintain it, or those without citations, among others. Why wasting time browsing hundreds of academic curriculums when they have the miraculous h-index?

Moving forward, Google Scholar calculates your h-index, though you can also obtain it your course, but you have to document and demonstrate it indicating journals, dates, articles, authors, etc.. The weak point is that Google Scholar considers also self-citations (should they be included for the h-index?), and citations from not indexed journals, books, and other publications. But it’s what we have.

Therefore, apart from the overwhelming logic of using the h-index to select researchers, don’t you think it is outrageously absurd? You can imagine what may be the environment/working pressure on a place that calls for the h-index to their professors/researchers … but it’s up to you and your needs.

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The seven habits of highly effective researchers (for publishing in journals)

The seven habits of highly effective researchers I wished I had written this book by Stephen Covey that I’m now paraphrasing, but you know my limitations, I’ll have to put up with using some others ideas. Though this time I’ve got something pretty amusing, I think: a different approach to the hard work of publishing in academic journals, on how to being highly effective by aligning to the following simple principles:

ENDURANCE

1. Just do it

Be proactive with your research and papers,take the lead if possible of the research projects you’re involved, and especially of the manuscripts. If you have a PhD, you are able to lead it (at your level). If you trust your publications in others, they never will do well, there will always be excuses. Take the helm or your papers never will be published.

2. Be unreasonably aspirational

Set the type of journals that you want/need to publish in and go for them. Know your limitations and plan where you want to get. Look what journals are looking for, what kind of research is needed, who their editors are, etc.

3. Cultivate your publishing pipeline

The important thing is doing good research (data driven), but don’t forget the publishing pipeline, as you need to have projects and manuscripts at all stages of the process: researching, writing, and publishing in journals.

4. Be patient, be changing

This is the most difficult/soft habit, you have no choice but to live with the timing of publication of papers and with your other academic obligations. Take a look back and see what you’ve got, keep it or start changing it if you don’t like it, coming out smoothly of your comfort area.

NETWORKING

5. Put your peers and editors first

On your own you are going nowhere in this publishing game. Don’t be selfish, in spite of habit 1. Give more of what you get, don’t do balance of who wins if you win something by publishing. Collaborate with other researchers, try to understand managing editors, help them being peer-reviewer or editor yourself.

6. Follow the academic networks

Get out there, expose yourself to the world, and let others know your work and publications. Think also in the transfer of knowledge and build your personal brand. Force yourself to use the academic networks participating in discussions of your field of knowledge, writing blogs, or using the internet tools for researchers. Even if you think it’s worthless, it’ll improve your skills and brand in the medium term.

RESULTS

7. Be obsessed with the student

You’re primarily a professor/educator, don’t forget it, don’t forget the classroom.  Research and publications aren’t everything. This is a struggle to find the balance between education, research and transfer of results that will make you even a better teacher.

 

Academic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley

As university professor, with great pressure to publish in academic journals, I find academic generalist networks essential, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, which help me to:

  • Disseminate on the web my published articles to try to obtain citations and name among the scientific community in my field of expertiseAcademic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley
  • Find research papers quickly and easily
  • Search for collaboration and international research projects
  • Share ideas and find solutions

I wonder if you can do the same on Facebook or Linkedin. Facebook don’t clearly do it because it’s very focused on leisure and personal life but, what about Linkedin? With millions of professors and professionals connected interested in science/research?

But no, it seems that we need a specific one to ourselves that differentiate researchers, with specific functionalities on usability and sociability (mainly source credibility), two main factors for evaluating online communities (Chinthakalaya, 2013).

I don’t intend to make a thorough analysis of the technical and functional characteristics of these platforms, but rather from the point of view of the user or scientist, offer an outline of their main features, to make the most of our time and know what you can expect from each. And although this is a blog and not a scientific research project, I have also taken into account the views of other users in the academic networks, such as those expressed in ResearchGate in this forum.

Obviously, I have created profiles on all platforms, so one important point is that you are forced to be on all of them, but if not constantly updated (profile and papers), the effort will be useless.

ResearchGate

  • I’d highlight its:
    • Interactivity: Collaboration and discovery through its discussions/questions and publication repository,
    • Intelligence:  The statistics and the scoring about your work are a great invitation / encouragement to participate and interact, though its administrators are very aware of all that is posted in the network, manipulating content, as if we were small children.
    • And source credibility: only researchers are accepted, and they use it a lot because of the scoring mentioned above.
  • But ResearchGate still has to improve its repository: I find it difficult to upload all my publications, not just papers, and it sometimes doesn’t find the links to get data when uploading them.

Academia.edu

  •  Its strength point is the repository of publications: Allows you to post the link on your paper, so other researchers can download your papers directly from the original source (SSRN, RepEc, arXiv.org, CiteCeerX or SSOAR), which increase your score on these repositories, if that is important for anyone.
  • But I find it less democratic so at the end less interactive: It’s very restrictive when disclosing your ideas to exchange views with other researchers. For example Academia.edu has deleted almost all of my new discussions, and they even closed my first profile there and I had to open another, which gives me the creepy feeling of censorship and guarded by a big brother with the excuse of spam.

Mendeley

  • It works more as a reference management system (organize and search bibliographies, add papers from the web to your library, etc.) with both online and desktop versions, sometimes difficult to understand. So it isn’t an academic network, but it has “a social network integrated”, which can give you an idea of its limited social and sharing capabilities.
  • It also has strong corporate and lucrative connotations: Mendeley was acquired in 2013 by Elsevier, the publishing house; yes, the one that is requesting scientific social-networking sites and authors to remove the papers posted online without their permission.

In conclusion, ResearchGate and Academia.edu are very similar social networks for scientists, each with their particular strengths/software, but I foresee a better future for ResearchGate because of its commitment to sociability, though not as much as Linkedin, my favorite generalist academic network.

Too bad they aren’t specialized in socializing the process of publishing in scholarly journals, both to editors and authors.

 

The Craft of Research. Book Review

The Craft of Research. Book ReviewI wanted to read further about research methodology, data collection, and on hypotheses and interpreting the data, and I found this book (‘The Craft of Research’): the title was suggestive, the description of the book looked ok, as its price as e-book, it also seems that it was selling well and the reviews were not bad, so I decided to try.

The truth is that I was hoping to find information about the process of conducting academic research, more than tips on writing the research draft or paper, so in part I was a little disappointed, but ok, it happens sometimes.

  1. Although the objectives of the book were ‘doing and reporting research’, I’m afraid is more focused on reporting and writing the draft.
  2. But even for this, writing the draft, I found it somehow weak, or at least like any the other books on the subject, such as ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’ or ‘How to get research published in journals’.
  3. I’ve also seen it too focused on unexperienced researchers, who would appreciate anything more or less elaborated and well-written to reflect on the subject and start developing their writing skills.

But instead, there are parts of the book that indeed are interesting and noteworthy, which are what I look for sometimes: some specific ideas about writing a paper, abstract, literature review, or even to disseminate it.

  • For example, it’s well exposed for the search of the bibliography, in case anyone needs some methodological basis to help selecting the literature, which I have not seen in any other book so far. I have to admit that I appreciate it because my approach is more intuitive, based on Google Scholar, the library of my Faculty, and then pulling out of references and books on the topic I’m researching.

I also have a bitter aftertaste after reading it because, for a simple European professor I found some parts of the book too Anglo and certainly convoluted: those that relate reasons with evidences, arguments, claim evaluation and warrants, one with some of the others and then all together, I’m sorry.

Fishing citations for your papers. An introduction

Fishing citations for your papers. An introductionActively seeking your papers to be cited is not well considered in our academic community, it’s compared with snake-oil selling. So, since it’s not a perverse activity in itself but we are forced to do so by the circumstances and the current publishing system, I’m wondering about how to approach it so that it could be accepted better.

What I’ve written so far in this blog, and the limited literature found on the subject, it’s based on a process, where there are activities to be performed before and after the publication of our paper (a kind of workouts), in order to get better citations ratings, with a focus on results.

On the other hand, I’ve found that seeking citations has greater acceptance if presented as an additional writing task to do with your manuscript to improve their search engine rankings (academic SEO) in the future, but it looks like a bit limited and unattractive for a new conceptual model; so I came across with the idea of ​​looking for a sport activity that could have some parallelism with obtaining citations, and I think I’ve found it: citation fishing.

  • Fishing is an activity that it’s enjoyed, and benefits are obtained, just with the fact of doing it; it’s rewarding in itself.
  • So there is, in theory, no pressure for results, since it depends on many external factors as in the case of fishing it’s the cold waters (field or knowledge), their turbulence (research topic), the time of day (number of authors), the area of the river or the sea (affiliation, experience or academic relevance); which must be known and managed anyway.
  • When fishing, we wait patiently for the fish to bite with all the means and planning we have taken for them to do so: knowing the prey (the scientists of my field of knowledge), but patiently let others scientists to come, find our work, and finally bite the hook.

There are many types of fishing, such as trawling, angling, using fishing nets, from a boat, from the shore or into the river itself; but I think that trolling fishing from a boat (web 3.0) is the best suited to our academic type of fish: citations.

  • Trolling is a method of fishing where one or more fishing lines (discussions or posts), baited with lures (our papers and background), are drawn through the academic waters (social networks).
  • Trolling is used both for recreational and commercial fishing, it’ll depend on your dedication. Multiple lines are often used (academic web sites), and outriggers (the tools: journals platform, academic tools, social networks, etc.) can be used to spread the lines more widely and reduce their chances of tangling. Downriggers (what to do to get to the scientific community: networking, discussions or communications) can also be used to keep the lures or baits trailing at a desired depth.

Would you like to know all the secrets about fishing citations for your papers? I’ll develop further on this type of citation fishing in the future; I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Research papers, English language and fair play

Research papers, English language and fair playA few days ago I was criticized ironically on the social networks (by a non-academic consultant) by the grammar of one of my blog posts, although I take much care of the English writing, of course, and I usually dedicate to it around 25% of the time. It made me feel pretty bad, but it helped me to reflect on the theme of research papers, English language and fair play.

Something similar can happen to non-native English speakers with our academic articles, with which I’ve never had trouble publishing in premier journals in English, the last one in a fist quartile Journal Citation Reports (ISI Web of Knowledge / Web of Science) indexed journal. It’s true that there was a peer-reviewer (I don’t know whether He/She was native or non-native English speaker) in one of them who told me something about the writing, but as I explained that I had sent it to edit the English (I had the bill), they didn’t say anything back again.

Papers should be written in English for two main reasons:

Those of us who are non-native English have a handicap here, but it need not be a barrier to disseminate knowledge. The world would lost much of the innovation and development if journals were not open to international scientists, and journals understand it this way, there could be no complains about it. Another thing is that the English required for the manuscripts is of first class, which is fair and reasonable but slows and lengthens the process of publishing in journals for non-native speakers.

In case you find it helpful, the process I use to write an article in English is as follows, because I understand that not writing well could in itself spoil the work and effort invested in a research:

  1. Once I have a revised and contrasted research draft in Spanglish (parts in English and parts in Spanish), I translate it fully into English, paragraph by paragraph, carefully reviewing the meaning of each sentence and making sure it is understood.
  2. Then I send it to edit the writing to a specialized academic editor on my field of knowledge.
  3. And, finally, with the reviewer’s comments, I correct and improve it.

Thereby I expect that my articles, and blog posts, are understood, are well written and transmit my research and ideas, not that they win a prize for literature or are compared with the works of Hemingway! On the other hand, I think that non-native English academics should also be given a fair chance in this publishing world, providing we observe the writing rules and don’t hide behind our limitations.

Best practices for university professors in 2014

Best practices for university professors in 2014The year is ending, so it’s a good time to revisit our development roadmap as professors and researchers, and not lose the rhythm and blur our ultimate goal. Now you know that my philosophy is a balance in academic activities and a continuous effort.

As best practices for university professors in 2014 I suggest the following ones, which are those that I currently have in mind for my development, but they are open of course to other practices to be completed, depending on your academic stage.

Teaching

1. Keep preparing your classes thoroughly. Analyze the feedback / evaluation from students.

2. Improve your presentation and class management skills. Use further the case method and the involvement of students at class and during the course.

3. Develop new content for seminars and courses to keep building your personal brand and keep learning.

4. Search and be open to new job opportunities. It’ll also help you to focus in the key skills required by universities.

Researching

5. Collaborate in research projects with others, if possible from different universities and countries.

6. Take care of your research project pipeline. Have projects in different stages: new ideas; research in process; and articles pending to be reviewed and submitted to journals.

– In 2014, publish 1 paper in a journal indexed in JCR (Thomson Reuters); 1 indexed in EBSCO/Scopus or the like; and 1 indexed in a regional or specialized field database.

– Go identifying journals that best fits your articles. Try Gaudeamus – The academic network for publishing in journals.

7. Disseminate your published papers periodically in the social networks, such as Google+, Linkedin, ResearchGate or Acadamia.edu.

Other activities

8. Keep peer-reviewing papers for indexed journals, and collaborating as Board Member of research Institutions and journals.

9. Be attentive to new opportunities to start a business and transfer knowledge to society, based on your specialized scientific background.

10. Help other colleagues and students; be kind to people.

  

I wish you a happy holiday season and a rewarding 2014 for you and your families.

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: Is it really worth academically attending conferences?

Poll: Is it really worth academically attending to conferences?I know it’s a strong start, if it’s really worth academically attending conferences, but I really wonder about it. This is another one of the themes that surprisingly emerged when I started my career as a university professor: Submit dissertation / papers to international conferences is required to complete your research resume; and now I realize that in the future it will be necessary for obtaining further citations. Take that!

The process generally agreed to disseminate the result of a research paper is as follows:

  1. First, doing the research.
  2. After that, preparing a draft of the manuscript.
  3. Reviewing it with your peers and/or department.
  4. And then, sending it to a conference.
  5. To finally publishing a paper in a journal indexed on a first level database, as Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier) or EBSCOhost.

This process makes sense and serves a clear purpose of testing the research paper, although the process may well be extended to more than 2/3 years since having the research finished. And it looks like as if designed to measure to insecure people who do not trust themselves or their work, and who needs to be given the nod everywhere possible before disseminating their results.

Also I haven’t very clear that all conferences are equal in terms of relevance, or at least there is no quality assurance or databases attesting them, as with journals. So it would be the same attending one or the other whenever international, organized by a reliable university or institution, with scientific committee and peer-review process.

Finally, before moving on to the poll, I also want to mention that you must be careful with the publication of proceedings; as Editor-in-Chief I’ve seen a publisher reject an article because it appeared on the website of an old conference, even though the rules of the journal allowed it.

Well, today I’m very interested in your opinion about the conferences you attend. This world is also changing, and each time I don’t feel like travelling and convincing people who don’t even read my work.

* It can be chosen several answers.
**Comments are highly encouraged.

Book review: ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’

For some time I wanted to read a book to improve my skills to write good literature reviews, although I haven’t had many problems with peer-reviewers on this issue in particular, especially when I do a good job documenting my thesis research.

There are some specialized books in the field of literature review, but I found this in particular, ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success (Machi & McEvoy, 2012) that looked nice and was not an expensive e-Book , which makes things easier since I’m trying to getting rid of the paper lately.

Book review: ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’As always, I’ll use this manual to perform the literature review of my next co-authored article, on international business models in the insurance industry, that is already well advanced, and we intend to submit to a Q1/Q2 JCR (Thomson Reuters) journal.

By having my academic paper already underway, the topic chosen and the research literature documented, I could jump three quarters of the content, the one on research design, choosing the topic of interest and its justification, and searching the existing literature. But of course I will use the methodology in the future for the research that I have in the pipeline, you can always improve your skills on this.

As for the review itself, I find very useful the structure provided for the review writing, indeed basic, simple and reasonable, which helps you have a schema that could help you to complete your ideas, thesis, analyzed documentation and its evaluation; that is, you are no longer faced with a blank paper when starting the literature review, but with a guide that facilitates this important part of your manuscript.

Since my goal is not to be a champion of the literature review, I’ll use this guide as a reference, because the main thing is to have our scientific paper understood, accepted, and published in journals, for which:

  • You have to take care of all the ingredients expected for a scientific journal, as a good review of the literature.
  • It should match the quality of the rest of the article.

In conclusion, the book is okay, a bit theoretical, but what do you expect? At least have a practical approach in 6 steps, but the first 3 and the last 2 are a kind of filler text, but I think undoubtedly that it contributes to help you not to forget these basic steps of the literature review and the composition of the thesis research and its documentation.

If you don’t have a peer beside to help you to improve your skills as a reviewer of the literature, the best idea is to read a manual like this, don’t you think? You can find it in our Bookstore as a Basic Book.

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