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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.

How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum Vitae

Having research published in journals is not easy, especially if they are indexed in relevant data bases or with impact factor; so if we have a few, we’d better highlight them in the Curriculum Vitae.

How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum VitaeI’ve often found that the ones who review our Curriculums at universities have a limited knowledge about citations, indexed journals or impact factor, but instead our published articles are usually an important part to be considered when applying to an academic job vacancy. So you have to make your relevant publications easy to read for them.

To do it you just need to add to the publications the most relevant indexes or databases in their field of specialty, or best known, where the journals are listed: the two or three of each publication, not to overwhelm with information. Often the education ministry itself gives the criterion of the most important journal indexes for each field of specialty, among which usually always is mentioned ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters).

If you also worked hard and published in a high impact factor journal, you should also indicate it. As well as if their impact factor is in quartile 1 and 2, indicating both quartile and its position in the ranking of their field of knowledge.

For example, I’d introduce my last publication in the Curriculum Vitae as follows:

  • Hernandez Barros, R. and López Domínguez, I. (2013): “Integration Strategies for the Success of Mergers and Acquisitions in Financial Services Companies”, Journal of Business Economics and Management, Vol. 14 (5,), pp. 979-992. Journal indexed in ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters), Impact Factor (2012): 1,881 (Position 55/333 in ‘Economics’, Q1).

But for other indexed publications without impact factor, it would be something like:

  • Martínez Torre-Enciso, M.I. and Hernandez Barros, R. (2013). Operational risk management for insurers. International Business Research, Vol. 6 (1), 1-11. Journal indexed in: EconLit (EBSCO), DOAJ.

Moreover, different article categories can be used when listing our publications; for example, as is usually listed in many websites departments and universities:

  1. Articles in indexed journals
  2. Articles in other journals (refereed)
  3. Other articles, working papers, chapters, technical notes, …

Obviously there are more ways to do it, but this works, though it cost me some time to have it clear, so I share it with you.

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.

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.

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?

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