The future of scientific research dissemination: Liberalism back again

The future of scientific research dissemination: Liberalism back againLast week was the presentation of my book ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’ and attended as speakers one of the foremost authorities in Spain on accreditation, the President of ACAP; the Director of the Corporate Finance Department at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and the Library director of the Faculty of Business and Economics; who brought their different views on the future of scientific research dissemination.

In the later discussion, there were addressed two issues of particular relevance, which I found interesting to comment here for its reflection.

1. We were wondering if it makes sense for a centralized agency to evaluate professors, and somehow tell the universities which of them could recruit.

  • It would be something similar to university admissions, there is now a centralized evaluation to be replaced in the near future by the specific of each college, American style.
  • Accreditation agencies would focus then to certify program studies and not to professors, seen as a private subject, of its quality and vision of teaching.
  • Many professors present at the event, as me, were slightly perplexed since we are working very hard on our accreditations, and because this new scenario would put it much harder for their foreseeable lack of transparency and equality of criteria.
  • But this change in evaluations doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take care of our academic curriculum, on the contrary, the requirements will not be lower.

2. The other interesting point is that probably the future of quality of research dissemination is not in the Platform (journals, repositories or even peer-reviewed books and conferences), but in the number of citations.

  • Although the results of the last poll I conducted on this topic reflected the opposite, which was the opinion of researchers about their current situation; in the future more emphasis will be given to citations obtained than to the relevance of the journals in which research is published, both closely interrelated.
  • Moreover, publish papers in journals is not the only thing that measures the impact or quality of research, but there are other important activities, such as patents and transfer of knowledge to society through the creation of start-ups.

That is, the conclusion I draw is that the important thing is to do research, publishing is its result, not the goal, or the system become perverted. Either way, we professors expect troubled times (you know: life is change, change is life), but not necessarily for the better academically and for the future of society. It is the vision of radical liberalism that now prevails, I guess.

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Where do journals go to find articles and authors?

Lately there are many places in internet proliferating with calls for papers in different social networks and web pages. That makes sense, since it is a method traditionally used in academia for collecting research journal articles and conference presentations.

A call for paper is usually distributed using a mailing list or on specialized online services, trying journals to target as much professors and researchers as possible:

  • Direct mailing with their own databases, either of published authors or authors who have submitted rejected articles, which should be a lot in some academic journals, though not necessarily happy.
  • Use data from their subscribers and readers. Many of them are usually professors or researchers.
  • Another source is directly the Universities and Faculties, through the secretaries or heads of departments, but it takes time to find and update the data.
  • It is also common now to communicate the call for papers on social networks such as Linkedin or on specialized websites, as WikiCFP.

At the end it turns out to be like going hunting journals, there are thousands of call for papers that come to your e-mail and many web pages where to go, and eventually as always you have to analyze each journal: its indexation and field of knowledge. That is, the difficult part is that your current scientific paper or research has to match with the need of a specific journal.

Apart from the call for papers, other tool journals have to find content and authors is writing in their editorials or webpages their interests or content sought for the future. An author may read it and try to meet this need writing something for the journal. I tried but it is not easy to design or research something on a determined topic in the short term.

The ultimate method is Gaudeamus, an online community of scholars (professor, researchers and journal editors) with the common goal of getting research published in journals; giving authors the opportunity to communicate directly with editors seeking quality content for their journals. Because, at the end, publishing papers is not only about searching databases and call for papers, it is also about networking with journal editors.

Authors, what do you do when looking for journals to publish your articles?

Journal Editors, where are you going to look for authors and quality papers?

Where do journals go to find articles and authors?

Connecting journals and papers, researchers and editors

Book review: ‘How to get research published in journals’

This is my review of the book, ‘How to get research published in journals‘ (A. Day, 2007), the first of which I will perform in the future on the subject of writing and publishing scientific papers, and it will serve me to open a new series in the blog about short reviews of books.

Book Review: 'How to get research published in journals'I used this book following its instructions for a research paper I wanted to place in a journal indexed in JCR (Thomson Reuters), and the result was a complete success, though it was accepted in the second journal to which I sent it. Furthermore, it also gave me the idea to found the social network GAUDEAMUS and this blog, so I have much affection and appreciation to this book, and in order to thank it somehow, apart from this blog post, we’re featuring it at the Bookstore as a Basic Book.

  1. The book is intended as a handbook of how to publish, and covers three main areas: Why publish; meeting the cast of the publishing process; and how to write the paper from the draft research. The first part was not helpful, because I’m very motivated to write and publish; I understand it necessary for my academic career. What it gave me is its insistence on the contribution of what we do, and to make it clear in the paper.
  2. It is noted from the outset that the author is experienced and knows the process of publishing and the journals’ world, but what I value most is the introduction of an important aspect, the reader: We don’t just have to write for the editors and peer-reviewers, of course, since at the end of the day journals live on its customers, and you have to understand what they need.
  3. Instead, it is a bit weaker and confusing about writing the paper. It only gives the basic strokes on the abstract and points of style, so it is necessary to complete this book with other specific on writing, the literature review or research craft.

In conclusion, I recommend it as a basic book, which has an Anglo-Saxon approach, therefore useful to publish in English or American journals, although it doesn’t serve me for that, paradoxically, because it was rejected in an American JCR, though then accepted in an European one. It also lacks a holistic approach with a model that would serve for organizing the process to publish your research, so it was also a source of inspiration to write my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0‘. Thank you Abbey!

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.

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?

A professor’s self-examination

a professor's self-examinationNow that the academic year is over and I am rested and recovered, it is time to do some self-assessment of how it went and to outline a plan for the coming year. This is a suggestion of questions for a self-examination as a professor.

First I have to be happy because I have the good fortune to be a university professor: it is a very varied, challenging and rewarding activity that allows me to make life better for others, to improve a little the world, and to grow as a person.

With respect to what is expected of me as a professor:

  • Did I prepare conveniently the classes?
  • Did I come to class on time? Did I go motivated or by mere compliance?
  • Did I correct/present the academic grades and other administrative documents on time?
  • Did I take the time to research and publish in academic journals? Did I seek to innovate in my research and contribute to the literature with my papers?

With respect to the others, students and colleagues:

  • Did I attend my students properly and with interest in their education?
  • How did I treat my peers? Did I willingly collaborate with them or did I just do the bare minimum required to meet my objectives?
  • Did I help other professors, for example from countries with fewer resources, to improve and publish, by providing my advice?
  • When a journal editor asked me to be a peer-reviewer, what did I do? Did I only accept if the journal had high impact factor?

With regard to myself and my goals:

  • Was I concerned about my training and reading to be a better teacher and researcher?
  • What was it that inspired my academic life: the others, improving the world, or else were the prestige and money?
  • Did I act as a professor normally in consciousness or was I driven by other motives such as obtaining publications, fear of losing the job, or what peers/students could say?

I understand that (academic) life is tough and stressful, and seeing how the things go in the world I’ll settle for the next course to fulfill my duties as a professor with students, to collaborate with my peers and to devote some time to study and research. And you?

Dept. Head at CalUMS: ‘We encourage our professors to publish in good journals’

Dept. Head at CALUMS - we encourage our professors to publish in good journalsMiguel A. Bustillos has over 25 years of combined business and healthcare experience. His current position is department head for all undergraduate studies programs at California University of Management & Sciences (CalUMS). Miguel is a board member of the National Capital Healthcare Executives, board member of the membership committee at the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, member of The American Physiological Society, member of the American Association for Respiratory Care, member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, member of the Society of Health Policy, and member of the Florida and Maryland Association for Respiratory Care. He is also board certified by the National Board of Respiratory Care and the Board of Physicians of the State of Maryland. He holds advance degrees in business and cardiopulmonary sciences and have published numerous articles in both business and health issues. Miguel is also an editorial review member for the Independent Journal of Management & Production. His research interest lies in corporate culture.

GAUDEAMUS. How do you select your research projects for your department?

MIGUEL A. BUSTILLOS. We allow our professors to do independent research on topics of their choosing. This keeps them motivated. We do require them to publish at least once a year.

G. Being Department Chair it should not be easy to coordinate and organize research, is there any aspect worth mentioning that could help us researchers regarding health care projects?

MAB. Healthcare projects are very complex and scientific in nature. I am referring to medicine. I would encourage the use of technology to keep adequate metrics of large numbers that are necessary to come to conclusion. Also, they take long periods of time due to the disparities of the samples.

G. If you had to prioritize, what do you put in the first place: teaching or researching?

MAB. I would say that I enjoy research because of the discoveries that are made through its use; however, my heart lies in the classroom. Therefore, I have to admit, I enjoy teaching more.

G. What is the research activity you like most?

MAB. The research activity I like the most would be testing for fallacies. Did I omit anything based on bias? This is when good testing is of most importance.

G. Internet and open access is changing the scholarly publishing industry, is it also changing research activity?

MAB. It is. It allows us to have access to information that was not available to us years ago for various reasons. I often warn researchers about the sources they use when they do their research, because we tend to believe the data of others without verifying the source. This is especially true when the source is a well established researcher in that particular field. I do not trust anyone’s data. I like to develop my own judgments. I use their data only as a guide.

G. What drives academics in your field of knowledge to publish in journals?

MAB. I believe in some cases it is the old adage of publish or die. However, I like to think it’s more of the need to write something of substance that may be life changing. This seems to be what I get from most of my colleagues. But, we can never forget about tenure. It seems to be a great motivator in the academic world.

G. How do you organize in your department to choose the journals where to publish? Or if you prefer, what are you looking for in a journal?

MAB. We know that all of our professors will not be able to publish in top tier journals. We understand this; therefore, we give them some credit for any published work. However, we have set up incentives for our professors to encourage them to publish in good journals. We do not like or encourage any professor to publish in journals that require payment from a professor to publish. We frown upon that.

G. Finally, what advice would you give to novel researchers (for example, about collaboration, time dedicated to research, make an impact, etc.).

MAB. I believe that every researcher should do research on whatever topic they most enjoy and drives their passion. I find that professors that are forced to conduct research on topics they dislike tend not to produce a good final product. This includes doing research due to grants. Yes, grants are necessary, but they should only be pursued by those that are genuinely interested in that topic.

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.

Teaching or research: what goes first?

Teaching or research - what goes firstBeing a university professor is very complex and demanding.

Professors generally are required to perform the following activities:

  1. Teach, conducting lectures and seminars; and mentor students.
  2. Perform advanced research in their fields, publishing their work in scientific journals.
  3. Provide consulting and advising functions, being this way closed to the reality.
  4. Conduct administrative or managerial functions at university or departments.

Is it possible, as some claim, to teach without research? At the end, being a good communicator has nothing to do with research.

What about research? Being a superb specialist does not mean that you are a good teacher, one can end up losing the wider scope of knowledge needed to teach.

But we are not just teachers (being good educators) nor pure researchers (improving the world), we are professors, we should master both of them; it makes sense and is required by all university and educational bodies all over the world, setting even the exact time for research and teaching.

Both are complementary and interwoven.

  • Teaching based on researching support the learning process and brings quality to teaching:  Research enriches teaching.
  • Research is fundamental in developing new knowledge and bridging the gap between academia and reality: Teaching develops research.

And going back to practical reality, the experience of successful professors is that both teaching and research spur our academic careers: without research one cannot be much effective in teaching, and vice-versa.

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. 

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