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.

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.

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.

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!

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?

Worst practices for misconduct authors

arbitroThere are several ideas going around in my head regarding the reasons for the growing plagiarism in academic publications and that someone is willing to get into this game for money:

  • There is great pressure to publish.
  • Capitalism is pervading everything.
  • In general, professors are not well paid.
  • Some publishing activities are not remunerated, as academic editor or peer review.

And trying to clarify this issue in blogs and online discussions, I have been able to make a list of the types of plagiarism that currently exist, that could be seen as the worst practices for pirate-authors:

  • Plagiarism: kidnapping or appropriation of others thoughts and ideas without acknowledging its source.
  • Self-plagiarism or recycling fraud: reuse of your own texts without attributing previous publication.
  • Ghost writing: write books, articles or other texts that are credited to another person, generally for money.
  • Honorary authorship: include authors in a publication without adding value or contributing, inflating its credentials.
  • Duplicate publication: use your own publications more than once, changing the title and abstract.
  • Salami slicing: creating several short publications out of material that could have, perhaps more validly, been published as a single article in a journal or review.
  • Remix or mosaic plagiarism: mixing several publications to obtain more publishable units.
  • Image and data manipulation: modify data and results to obtain another document for publication.

It is amusing and dangerous at the same time the combination of some of the above activities, such as ghost writing and plagiarism, it would be that you pay for an article to be written but that in turn is plagiarized, so at the end, apart from wasting your money, you may run many risks, as the reputational one.

I am not sure before, but now with open access and the Internet is becoming easier to detect plagiarism of any of the existing types. Recently in Spain a professor has been condemned for plagiarizing a chapter of a student. In line with those worst practices above, the article could have been coauthored with the student – that is, the professor adds his name and the student the content, or that he did not even remember that it was not his? But I guess believing to be very smart is worse than plagiarism.

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