Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n’ Roll

The poll results changed my schemes (or rather, my expectations) a little bit; but I don’t know why it surprises me, because academics always answer our polls in a fair and sensible way, as you can see below. The question was What kind of conferences are you attending?

One of the comments was very graphic and explanatory: A professor assists to academic conferences to learn about the latest research in the field (updating), to test his research with his peers and meet scientists for future collaboration (networking), all in a high level university environment in another country that allowed him to get away from the pressure of everyday life (Rock n’ Roll), and even do some tourism in the free time.

Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n' Roll

My appreciation was that the current web 2.0 approach towards scientific conferences were also changing, particularly the issue of networking (with social communities), and because of traveling (it seems to me a bit cumbersome and costly, not always funding is provided). But of course, if you take it as a milestone once or every two years, as described before, things change significantly, and I’ll have to restate my relationship with conferences again.

Regarding the poll itself, my general conclusions and ideas are the following ones:

  1. Quality of the conference (52%) is important for respondents, which has much sense to meet peers for future collaborations and for testing our research.
  2. Around 15% of respondents believe that any kind of conference their field of knowledge is acceptable, I guess to meet the expectations of improvement and maintaining of curriculum, which is very legitimate.
  3. Have the paper published in the proceeding or journal is not the main objective when going to a conference (22%). This is the most interesting finding: for me assisting to conferences is a necessary part of the process of disseminating research, but is considered as two different things; I’ll have to investigate further about it.
  4. In order to reduce costs, I suggested assisting to conferences organized around the home city and even virtual ones (11%), but they obtained poor results, perhaps because funds are usually provided by universities.

So, have you chosen the conferences where you’re planning to attend in 2014? At Gaudeamus you can find a few from different organizers, fields of knowledge and countries, if you need some Rock n’ Roll, of course.

What kind of conferences are you attending? Poll results

  • Only to international conferences, 18.72%
  • Depending on the scientists / professors attending (for networking), 17.45%
  • Only those organized by universities or institutions that I trust, 15.74%
  • Any kind of conference my field of knowledge is acceptable, 14.89%
  • Only if the paper presented is published in the proceedings, 12.34%
  • Only if the paper presented is eligible to be published in indexed journals, 9.79%
  • Those organize in my city / my country, funding is not always available, 5.96%
  • I attend (or planning to attend) virtually, if possible, it’s a new interesting trend, 5.11%

* The poll was posted in November 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 950 answers were collected.

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.

Selecting the right journal for my recent academic article

Selecting the right journal for my recent academic articleI’m finishing an article for its publication, now I’m writing the last touches before submitting it to publish, so it already has all the ingredients required to be acceptable: introduction, thesis and problem statement, topic relevance, literature review, data analysis, findings, implications and conclusions; that is the hard part.

Now we have to select the right academic journal (the soft part) for our article. Since the research and methodology have good bases, and the results are interesting, we plan to send it first to a journal indexed in JCRJournal Citations Reports (Web or Knowledge), quartiles Q1 or Q2.

  • We’ve identified, during the literature review, the scientific journals that publish research on our field of knowledge; we obtained about 8/10 journals.
  • Then I reviewed the database Journal Citations Reports (JCR) to see their impact and quartile. There were about 4 or 5 high quartile journals in the selection.
    • Now I need to check in Gaudeamus, the network for publishing in academic journals, if there is a journal of our preference, and I’ll contact the editor to introduce him my paper to see if it fits there. I’ve already done it successfully a couple of times, before or after the previous point of identifying indexed journals.
    • If the journal is listed in Gaudeamus, it means that the editor is open and available to contact authors, and then it’s much easier than sending the papers directly to a cold e-mail using other databases or directories.

After that, we’ll investigate the few 3/4 remaining journals for adapting the paper to their style and preferences, getting to know the underside of them, as their editorial board, their owners or quality criteria. The most important thing is to find the journal that is looking for the kind of research and manuscript that we have written; this way we’d avoid sending our article to several journals, wasting our time and morale.

We’ll submit it first to 2 or 3 JCR Q1/Q2 journals, and see what kind of feedback we’re getting; if we have no success with them we’ll go for JCR Q3/Q4, Scopus or EBSCO journals. And we shouldn’t take rejections as a failure, you always get information to improve the paper or to better target ‘your’ journal.

What do you think of our approach? Do you do the same when selecting a journal?

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.

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.

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

What a surprise! There have been fewer responses than in other polls, I thought that there were more interest on this topic, but the results are clear on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index.

Is Google Scholar a good indicator of your quality of research activity and influence?

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

* The poll was posted in October 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 470 answers were collected.

Although Google Scholar is open and reliable because it treats scholars equally, it’s not considered to be a good indicator of quality of research activity and influence. It’s incredible and difficult to digest because I had a hope in this. So I guess what you can think of Altmetric, which is based on an ample idea of impact, not just on academic production…

The reasons for these results are implicit in the survey because, if on the one hand these metrics provide useful public information, on the other hand I understand that, in general, H-Index metrics have the following barriers:

  1. It adds pressure on researchers.
  2. No organization seems to be looking seriously at them.
  3. Not many people are using them, because their citations are poor comparing with those of some champions in the sciences, and because is another annoying tool to take care of.
  4. And mainly because it is still considered that journals are a better indicator of quality of research.

Well okay, I get it, we’ll look at the individual metrics but focusing on publishing in indexed journals. I don’t think that in the medium term this will change much, peer-review will remain the king of research quality assessment, and makes perfect sense.

But instead, for journals these results are a triumph and a shot of adrenaline. The road for them is to be indexed in well-known databases and be open to open access to allow authors to be cited and have an impact, isn’t it?

Towards a Corporate Governance system for journals

Towards a Corporate Governance system for journalsIn the previous post, I suggested the idea of ​​using the corporate governance model but for academic journals and research, a kind of Journal Governance system, aligning journal practices with each other and with the scientific environment in which they operate, which would lead the academic publishing industry towards a Corporate Governance system for journals.

In corporate governance there are two leading models: that of the Shareholders (in our case the journal would seek wealth maximization), monitored by the market, that is, their readers, paper rejections ratios, subscriptions, indexation in high ranked indexes, publication prestige, etc.; and that of the Stakeholders, having into account a dense network of journal collaborations; but the trend is to use a mixed model, in which the publishing world could have the following key Journal Governance Variables.

The internal forces, those directly responsible for determining both the strategic direction and the execution of the journal’s future:

  1. The journal owner (publishing company, faculty/university, scientists): Maximization of the journal value.
  2. The editorial board: Transparency and international approach.
  3. The editors (Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor):  Independence and loyalty.
  4. The peer-reviewers: Knowledge and ethics.

The external forces, those interested in the journals behavior and success:

  1. Readers, looking for quality, innovation and rigor of published research.
  2. Authors, seeking the prestige of the journal.
  3. Funding institutions, in need of project validation.
  4. Universities and faculties.
  5. Databases and indexes.
  6. Accreditation agencies of professors.
  7. The regulation of each country on education and teaching.

Many of these forces are currently existing, but in a weak way and not incorporated or regulated by a comprehensive model, for example forcing journals to publish a sort of Journal  Governance Annual Report, among other practices, which would be compelling as other quality practices, such as peer-review or independence of the academic board.

Anyway I’m not naive, I know that this hypothetical system of Journal Governance wouldn’t be infallible either, but would be the best we could come to have in the medium term, don’t you think so?

Peer-review revisited. The last journals’ scandals effect

Peer-review revisited. The last journals’ scandals effectLately there have been some scandals regarding some low quality academic publications or fraud involving several journals, an issue that is not new and that is affecting the current model of journals and peer-review system. So much so that The Economist has written an interesting and intricate article on this subject (How science goes wrong), in which scolds the industry, coming to say that:

  1. Peer-review system is not enough to guarantee the quality of research
  2. It is important that research results can be replicated, and in many cases have not been made by tech firms, because data were allegedly manipulated.
  3. Also blames journals, which may be selecting the more sensational or interesting articles for their readers.

To solve this problem it raises fairly complex ideas, difficult to implement in practice from my point of view for all fields of knowledge, such as including a system of post-publication evaluation, or even registering the research protocols, so it can be monitored and trial data can be tested and inspected.

Currently, publish in journals is an elephant pregnancy, 22 months: once the draft research is ready, it must be passes to a paper format, with the following peers and co-authors revisions; then you have to choose the right journal; adjust the paper to its specific format and translate  it to the proper language, if necessary; then you have to send it to the journal, which usually have up to 90% of rejections, and take up to a year to be re-reviewed and eventually accepted.

Therefore, I think that complicate the process would be counterproductive, but I agree that something certainly should be done because this system gives rise to errors and fraud, which could lead to a slower advance of science and humanity.

As a researcher in finance, it comes to my mind the implementation of corporate governance practices but applied to academic journals and research (Journal Governance), which is somehow already being done. The prevailing logic would be that journal practices are aligned with each other, as well as with the academic environment in which they operate.

(It will continue.)

%d bloggers like this: