How to get clients for your journal business

The aim of the post is to reflect on a particular point on the management of academic journals, which is the reader or clients for their journal business.

how to get clients for your journal business

For a journal there are at least three key types of stakeholders, which are interrelated: the readers, authors (content) and peer-reviewers.

  • By focusing on innovation and contribution to knowledge, journal publications are usually directed to a specialized audience. Therefore, very often the reader or target audience (the client), apart from professionals is usually also professors and researchers, which in turn are the authors and users of journal content.
  • The target of journals are usually much focused, which makes it easier for them to find readers, typically located in the faculties and in the authors of papers that are published continuously. But instead the reader’s habits are changing: who can be faithful to a single journal with the current flow of information on the internet on any subject and in many formats?

Moreover, for what I see in the social networks for academics, such as Academia, Researchgate or Mendeley, the world goes to the free access to the article, not to the journal. What the journals provide is to ensure the quality of the paper/research mainly with its peer-review evaluation process; but then the authors disclose them at their own way.

This leads us to wonder about the business model of journals, whether to charge the reader, lowering the target, or charge the author, which also limits access to quality content. But what really matters is if the journal model fits with the new environment of free and open access, and if the reader is somehow relevant or it is just the content.

My conclusion is that as a business, journals make no sense; they make sense as disseminating tools for a university department or professional association. Those who get make money are those serving around journals as hosting applications, journal indexes or directories, or even clusters of journals such as Elsevier and Wiley. A little sad, isn’t it?

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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.

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. 

The class struggle in academia. A manifesto

classwar1To scholars of all lands and fields of knowledge:

Journals are threatened by open access, free citation metrics and web 3.0.

Publishing houses, universities and governments are uniting in a holy alliance intended to exorcise this changes, trying to reinforce the current indexing journal system.

It is high time that scholars should openly, in the face of the whole world, share their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this challenges with a manifesto.

Researchers and Professors

The history of research quality assessment is the history of scholarly struggles.

In academia, the working class –researchers and professors– are fighting in the class struggle against the owners of the means of production in academia, the journals, and that the current class struggle could end either with revolution that restructure the system, or common ruin of the contending scholarly classes. 

Journals Vs. Professors

There is a hidden civil war between scholars: researchers/professors against editors of journals.

Editors have the power to publish, the power to make us professors progress in our careers.

The accumulation of power in journal hands, the formation of first class indexed publications, and the competition amongst the academics creates pressure on our daily lives.

Position of Academics in Relation to the Scholarly Civil War

We are just professors and researchers who want to publish in journals to improve as academics and find tenure.

We do not hate journal editors, we are not afraid of you. We don’t even know you.

We wish you no harm. On the contrary, we want to be your friends and make your editor life easier.

We love journals. We need to understand you.

To all professors/researchers who feel the same, share this message and help it reach journal editors.

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Research in Sciences: Pieces of advice from an outstanding researcher

m guillenMontserrat Guillén was born in Barcelona in 1964. She received a Master of Science in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics in 1987 and a PhD in Economics from University of Barcelona in 1992. She got an MSc in Data Analysis from the University of Essex (United Kingdom). She was Visiting Research faculty at the University of Texas at Austin (USA) in 1994. Montserrat also holds a Visiting Professor position at the University of Paris II, where she teaches Insurance Econometrics. Since April, 2001 she is chair professor of the Department of Econometrics at the University of Barcelona. Montserrat was awarded the ICREA Academia distinction.

Her research focuses on actuarial statistics and quantitative risk management. She has published many scientific articles, contributions to book chapters and books on insurance and actuarial science. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Risk and Insurance – the official journal of the American Risk and Insurance Association, a senior editor of Astin Bulletin – the official journal of the International Actuarial Association, and chief editor of SORT – Statistics and Operations Research Transactions.  Montserrat was awarded by the Casualty Actuarial Society and received the International Insurance Prize. She is a highly cited academic in the field of risk management and insurance. She was elected President of the European Group of Risk and Insurance Economists, the Geneva Association, in 2011. She serves in many scientific boards, international programs and steering committees and conducts R&D joint programs with many companies.

Gaudeamus. How do you select your research projects, or do they select you? 

Monserrat Guillen. I usually apply for research project funding to academic institutions. The topics are usually basic research with a very long term and ambitious perspective, which means that the application is not going to be immediate. When private funding comes into place, it is usually because a very specific research with direct transfer to the industry is expected

G. You usually collaborate with international scholars, it should not be easy to coordinate and organize research, is there any aspect worth mentioning that could help us researchers regarding international projects? 

MG. There must be a leader. The leader must be open-minded, active, motivating and has to set up short term and long-term goals for the team. Everyone involved must know his/her role in the project and why his/her contribution is important to the whole group.

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

MG. Both. Even if a lecturer is very good, good teaching is even better with good research. I find that usually we forget that research advances have to be introduced in the syllabuses and this is essential for high quality education. Research also benefits from teaching, because communicating research results needs many of the skill that is developed when teaching.

G. What is the research activity you like most?

MG. I really enjoy the instants when a new result is obtained. There are some seconds of doubt, and then an explosion of joy when the result is confirmed. Sometime this happens when working on my own and sometimes this is shared with colleagues. If I obtain a results and no colleague is next to me, I would immediately tell it with my colleagues.

G. Once you have a draft research document, what key issues should be taken into account until it is published?

MG. Audience, structured, correctness in all sense

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

MG. It does because searching information is much easier than it used to be. Reading the essential papers is important when there are so many out there.

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

MG. The topic and the impact factor. I look for a sign of quality

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

MG. I would recommend spending a lot of time on how to explain the research result. Some very good contributions remain get no notoriety due to a poor presentation. Correctness, clarity and motivation are crucial for the success of a paper.

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.

Key factors when selecting a journal: poll results

reasons

Choosing the right journal where to send our paper is critical to avoid delays and have our paper publish where we want to, for example: in an indexed one, open access, without fees to authors and from the USA.

I anticipated two kinds of reasons (objective and subjective ones), believing that it was going to have a balance response, but the objective factors had more weight in the poll. I found intriguing two of the responses:

1.- The most popular reason is “Research published on your field is there”, even slightly above “Impact Factor”.

2.- “Fee to authors” is the less valued factor when deciding where to publish.

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Soft is hard and hard is soft also for publishing in journals

My opinion about the results is that academics still place great importance into the objective (or hard) criteria: It is what most of the academics make when publishing, accessible to all, becoming this way the easy (or soft) part of the process, though not the successful one.

Instead, what is a priori the soft part, it is really the difficult (or hard) one, which is to learn from the experience with journals and using this information for future publications, networking with editors, adapting to their style and preferences, getting to know the underside of the journals, as its editorial board, its owner, quality criteria, etc… Do you use your soft skills to publish in journals?

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* The poll was posted in April 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 1000 answers were collected.

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?

Poll: reasons when selecting a journal to submit a paper

dudando

Choosing the journal where to send our paper is critical for two main reasons:

  • Objective factors. The main thing is that it fits in our publication strategy: indexed, with impact factor, peer reviewed, open access, among other criteria.
  • Subjective factors. Then, and not the least, we have to find the journal that is looking for the kind of research and manuscript that we have written. This way we could avoid sending our paper to multiple journals, wasting our time and morale.

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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