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.

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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?

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.

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