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.

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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?

Journal owners, you make the publishin’ world go round

biz ownersTo understand a journal and have an opportunity to be published, besides knowing it well (its editors, the editorial line, what kind of articles it publishes or if it charges fees to authors), I find also very important to know its objectives as an institution, or in other words, who owns it, and there aren’t much written about it.

So I have classified journal owners according to their ultimate goals as a company / organization:

1. Businesses with primarily financial targets:

  • Publishing companies. They usually produce several journals, and their editors / managers are professionals who are in charge of a small group of them, though they use content and peer-reviewers for free (well, the standard in the industry). Therefore they are generally well-managed and agile in their processes, they understand this as a business. Its revenues come mainly from subscriptions and some of them charge also a fee to authors.
  • Other companies (consultancies, research centers, etc.), focused on a specific field of knowledge. Similar to the above type in terms of management, but the number of journals published are generally much lower. Revenue via subscription and fees to authors.

2. Owners with academic and informative main goals:

  • Faculty departments. They could have the temptation to give some publishing priority to the professors of their associated / partner departments. They tend to be financed via university funds and subscriptions. The editors / managers are academics, therefore busy people, for them this is not a priority, so you better have a very good paper perfectly tailored to the journal to be noticed.
  • Professional associations. In principle they are objectives and open to any kind of contribution, though usually advised by academics from a faculty department, which leads us to the former type of owner. The funds usually come from the association itself.
  • Independent professors. My favourites. Idealists. Always in search for funds and content.

And all of them with the common goal of increasing readers, content and citations. So they desperately need to be indexed in databases, which at the same requires more funds for its management, and so on…

In any case, how much does ownership influence on the quality and prestige of journals?

Best practices for peer reviewers

Best practices for peer reviewers

What is the matter with some reviewers? I understand that it is an uncomfortable job as it is not remunerated, it takes time to do it well and we are such a perfect scholars… So I think some guidelines are needed , it is our game:

  1. Integrity. Do a good review, spend time and care on it.
  2. Know your journal. Read the notes for authors, familiarize with the articles it publishes, look for its citation indexes, all these will help you to set the standards for the review.
  3. Align with the editor to set the quality criteria of your reviews. Editors usually need content for their journals, if you are too strict maybe you are not valid to them.
  4. There are many more options than accepted / rejected. You can leave it open for the author to improve it, without throwing it back completely. Leave the decision to the editor, there are still another reviewer. Sometimes the material is good but you have to help authors to adapt the paper to the journal’s editorial line.
  5. Be constructive with your comments. Think a bit of the author, who has devoted time and has tried to contribute to knowledge, it could be yours in the future. Use the journal form for reviews, it will make you easier the task of revision.
  6. Accept the articles which you feel able to review, though you should accept some papers a bit beyond your area of ​​expertise and knowledge. Editors usually have trouble finding reviewers, if you only circunscribes to your specific field, neither you are you going to learn nor you are going to make the life easier to the editor.
  7. Confidenciality of information. Do not consult nor send to anyone the paper you are reviewing, especially to a professional who does not know anything about peer review or research. If it’s something you do not know, you can ask or investigate, but YOU have been requested to do it, stop thinking much about it, contribute as far as you can and full stop.
  8. Time management. If editors see that you are a good and efficient reviewer, you will be used a lot. So reviewing 1 or 2 articles every two months is fine, it keeps you fit: you read about your research field, you learn about paper structuring, you gain knowledge of journals’ procedures and you build relationships with editors for the future.
  9. Conflict of interest. If you’re not comfortable with the review task, either you think you know the author or it is a subject far beyond your knowledge, you have several options: withdraw as a reviewer, have deft touch or work harder on the review; it will depend on your level of compromise with the journal.
  10. Be agile. There is no reason to take 4 to 6 weeks to review a paper, do it within the next week. Spend a couple of hours at most (one to read and take notes, and another to do the review, with time in between to let your little brain to assimilate it).

In conclusion: easy, peer! Take it as a learning experience, a way to build yor network and an obligation to stay updated in your reserach field. If you are not a reviewer, sorry for your academic and publishing career!

Journals that ask for money. Is it so dishonest?

taxidriverWell…, let’s shake this publishing martini a little bit.

Let’s see the publishing industry as if authors/professors were the clients: we scholars/clients place our papers in journals to be recognized, to improve our CVs and to have our research disseminated.

Would you like to send a paper to a journal and have a response by the Editor within a couple of weeks?
Would you like to have your peer reviews 3 or 4 weeks later? (Is it too demanding?)
What about having an estimate of the publication date if you answer your review comments within a determined period of time?
What else would you ask for?
Wouldn’t you pay for all this? … No? … Come off it!

But, do you know any journal with a service like that?

  • I do, or at least a couple of them which comply with most of the above: journals (indexed in acceptable and recognized databases) where you pay.
  • The rest strive with their success (or themselves), their processes and reviewers. For example, I sent in a paper to low quartile JCR journal (WoK) that is still in the process a year after!

We all know that the client is the reader, or shouldn’t they be? Subscriptions are decreasing… and internet uprising…

  • Is the reader of scientific journals someone who reads every issue of them? Or is the real reader an academic who looks just for the articles of their interest? In any journal available?
  • How many journals university libraries (or we) have to subscribe to?

Another issue is the academic questions and quality this new system may arise: you pay-you publish? Which are usually resolved via citation indexing.

What do you think about paying for a (publishing) service? Or the problem is what others think of you doing it? Have you asked them?

Journals indexing: A Space Odyssey?

2001 Space Odyssey 1083_RS7_009543.jpgIn the world, it could be around 100.000 journals listed in different academic databases and citation indexes, such as Web of Knowledge (Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier), EBSCOhost (EBSCO Publishing), DOAJ (Sparc) and hundreds more. Fortunately there is a lot of supply, the problem is how to choose.

The rule of thumb is that you always have to publish in indexed journals (there are generalists, regionals or specialists in a scientific field), open accessed or not.

  • If you don’t do it this way, you may lose your time and your research. Forget newspapers, business magazines or even books (at least as first option), which are fine to spread your work or reach consulting clients, but here we are talking about scientific output, for your academic curriculum. Do not mix them.

Neither confuse citation indexes or databases (which demand specific quality requirements to academic journals) with web search engines (or digital libraries), like Google Scholar, or CiteSeerX, which are part of the open access movement that is changing the publishing industry, and that we will have to take into account, but in the future.

As a general outline, scholars have to identify their 3/5 most relevant indexes where to publish: the two most prestigious generalists, the one focused on your research field, and the relevant index in your country or region.

  • Later we’ll see which journals we send our articles to, according to the journals impact factor (based on citations received by the papers published) and the quality of our research and experience.

For example, since my specialty is finance and risks, my indexes priorities are WoK, Scopus, Econlit/EBSCOhost (Economics)) and Latindex (Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal), in that order. And depending on the quality of my scientific production, I place them mentally.

  • Note that it is often easier and faster to publish in journals of lower order indexes (less known or prestigious) than of higher order, for various reasons that can be easily imagined.
  • The ideal is always publish in WoK indexed journals, but to be realistic, it’s more than enough publish one paper every year in each type of index, totaling 2/3 per year. But it depends on the capacity and ambition of each of us, and on the time required for the other academic activities: publish is not everything.

And you? Do you know “your indexes”?, Start the New Year by identifying the 3 or 4 most relevant databases in your field of expertise and region: ask your faculty/university library, review the journal indexes of your current research references, or even better, share this post with your peers, and then have a drink with them to see what they think about!

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