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?

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Shape the future of publishing voting in the poll. Share with us your vision.

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Gaudeamus: 1.000 profs and editors building a better academic world

Let me use the poem Desiderata (Max Ehrmann, 1920) with other words: The world is full of trickery. But let this not blind us to what virtue there is; many profs strive for high ideals, and everywhere academic life is full of heroism.

Being a prof is great, doing what we know to do and what we love: researching, writing, teaching and spreading our knowledge to others. But we may sometimes also feel like pirates of the Caribbean, snake oil salesmen, proletarians, revolutionaries, parents and slaves. It is romantic, isn`t it?

Gaudeamus – the academic network for publishing in journals was born with this spirit, dedicated to build a better academic world helping scholars to get their research published in journals and enabling editors to find content.

This week we will reach 1.000 users: Journals and professors, researchers and editors, democratizing through Internet our common publishing knowledge.

Every day, many academics successfully find love with journal editors on Gaudeamus, so why not get started now?

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Key factors when selecting a journal: poll results

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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.

Listening to international editors: Priyanka Gilani about journal management in India

priyankaPriyanka Gilani is the Managing Editor of Indian Journal of Marketing, Indian Journal of Finance, Prabandhan: Indian Journal of Management and Arthshastra: Indian Journal of Economics & Research, four double blind peer reviewed monthly journals.

An alumnus of the University of Delhi, Priyanka has proven to be a dedicated and skilled Managing Editor of four major business research journals. With more than six years of experience in Editorial Development, Editorial Project Management, Editorial Consulting, Editorial Production, Content Writing and Content Management, Priyanka has been successfully handling the myriad details required to produce the monthly editions of the four journals.

With a subscriber base that is unparalleled by any other Journal in India, they are the leading Journals of Business Management in India, with a pan-India presence and a discernible International subscriber and readership base.

Gaudeamus interview starts from the target, an average reader of these  journals… 

Priyanka Gilani:  Our target audience are: Professors/Lecturers/Academicians in various capacities and levels as well as Students/Research Scholars with research interests in Marketing, Finance, Management, and Economics; industry experts, Business Managers, Consultants, Policymakers and Practitioners of Marketing, Finance, Management, and Economics disciplines; also, our titles are widely referred for classroom discussion across India. 

G: How difficult is to find content to satisfy your readers? And what do you do to find it?

PG: Since we have been in this field since the last four decades, and due to our sound Editorial Policies, we have a very healthy manuscript submission rate. Our titles have a wide audience and are quite popular; hence, our Journals are an obvious choice for academicians and scholars associated with the field of Business Management. Over the years, we have painstakingly established, cultivated, and maintained a good reputation that has been vital in attracting authors. Only 15% of the manuscripts submitted to our titles are accepted for publication. In order to satisfy our readers, we publish insightful research of the highest quality, and the subject scope reflects and keeps pace with the evolving research activities in the 21st century.

G: What characteristics should have a paper to be published in your journals?

PG: Besides being well written research, a paper should:

  • Make a contribution to the subject area;
  • Match with the scope of the Journal in terms of significance and relevance of the topic;
  • Be original;
  • Have a well-defined set of objectives;
  • Have a sound methodological approach and conceptual rigor;
  • Have strong evidence (empirical data, case study, tested models, etc.);
  • Have clear presentation of results and discussion;
  • Have a useful set of conclusion, suggestions, and research implications;
  • Have quality references ( both in-text and cited references).

G: What is the role of indexation for journals in general? Do you feel any kind of pressure as Managing Editor about indexation?

PG: Indexing of Journals is of paramount importance as most of the authors choose to publish in a Journal only after seeing where the Journal is indexed/abstracted as they get extra credits for a paper published in an indexed Journal. For various databases, the decision to include a Journal is based on several factors – the most important being Scientific Quality, Editorial Value, Technical Quality, International Availability, and Regularity with which a Journal is published. Furthermore, receiving a rating from a ranking system further cements the position of a Journal as this system provides a multi-parameter analysis of scientific output, research potential, and is an evaluation of a Journal’s quality.

Indian Journal of Marketing, Indian Journal of Finance, Prabandhan : Indian Journal of Management are indexed in the Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities, USA; Ulrich’s International Periodicals Directory, USA; Index Copernicus Journals Master List, Index Copernicus International, Poland;  Indian Science Abstracts (ISA-NISCAIR), Journal of Economic Literature (JEL), USA ; and EconLit, USA.

Recently, Indian Journal of Marketing and Indian Journal of Finance have been accepted for inclusion in Elsevier’s SciVerse Scopus after undergoing a rigorous evaluation procedure. I think Scopus covers just one title of Business Management from India, and we are extremely proud to have made it to the list. In addition, our titles have been awarded the NAAS Rating by National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which is a Government of India institution. So, yes, in India, Indexing is very important for a Journal. Having said this, I feel that search engines like Google Scholar with the Google Scholar Metrics will give tough competition to indexing databases in the future. 

G: What do you think are the main drivers of change in journal publishing in India?

PG: Research in Business Management is still at a nascent stage in India. Scholarly journals indexed in good databases, publishing pioneering research whose results can be fed into management practice and public policy making that is specific to Indian sub-cultures and markets will be the main drivers of change in Journal publishing in India. Social Media (Web 2) will offer the potential to enhance informal and scholarly communication. Most importantly, the policies of the Government of India will have a great impact on Journal publishing in India.

G: What are the main problems a Managing Editor of several international journals faces?

PG:  Running four peer-reviewed Journals has its own set of challenges. Producing monthly editions of our titles is indeed quite challenging as we have to work with extremely tight deadlines. We have to produce an Issue within the shortest possible time, without compromising on the quality of the content.  Since our titles are produced in the print form, we have to make sure that our titles are printed as per the schedule to be dispatched on time. In the midst of producing regular issues, I also have to serve as a liaison between the reviewers and the authors to evince high quality and timely reviews, and then communicate with the authors regarding the status of their submission. In addition, I correspond with authors regarding my suggestions to improve a paper, suggest changes as per our editorial requirements, respond to routine correspondence and inquiries related to our titles, and contribute to Editorial meetings. I have a jam-packed schedule, but I truly enjoy my work as each day is a learning experience.

G: Finally, what advice would you give to scholars when submitting papers to your journals?

PG: The authors should read the Guidelines for Authors carefully regarding the instructions pertaining to manuscript specifications, style guide, and the formalities associated with submission and publication of a paper. Ensure that citations are complete in all respects (both in-text and cited references). Don’t make multiple submissions of the same paper. Since all communication is through email, please check your email regularly, and in case of any queries regarding a paper, a submission, or anything regarding the Journal, get in touch with the editor directly to clarify the queries rather than harbouring pre-conceived notions. After publication, include your papers in Google Scholar to publicize your paper and also to increase citations.

Poll: reasons when selecting a journal to submit a paper

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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.

Q&A. The peer-review process from inside a journal

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues, Bachelor in Management, Master in Production Engineering and pursuing PhD in Mechanical Engineering. From 2008 to 2012 was a member of the organizing committee of the National Production Engineering (ENEGEP). From 2008 to 2010 was a member of the organization committee the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (ICIEOM) and National Meeting of Coordinators of Production Engineering (ENCEP). From 2008 to 2011 published five book chapters in Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL). From 1989 to 2004 he worked as an analyst for computer support, providing services to companies such as HP, Compaq and IBM. From 2008 to 2011 was a professor of Business Administration courses and Sugarcane Production Technologist at Sacred Universidade do Sagrado Coração (USC) in Bauru, SP, Brazil. Since 2011 he has been exclusively dedicated to teaching in technical courses in Agribusiness and Events, at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo (IFSP). In 2010 he started the project of the scientific journal Independent Journal of Production & Management, which seeks to dedicate his free moments for the management and dissemination of the Journal.

The IJM&P is a journal for unpublished works related to Administration and Engineering of Production and Mechanics and Economics as well as works that present results of studies and researches about the activities of Science and Technology Information. The Journal is published on a semester-by-semester basis in June and December and is Indexed in several databases.

Gaudeamus: Peer review is a standard requirement for a journal. Do you foresee any changes in the future about this quality system?

Paulo Cesar Chagas: Yes. It is a standard to have a journal peer review. We do not intend to change this pattern, it is a way to try to get an unbiased review about the work we are subjected, and enable us to curb potential abuse cases. For example, a reviewer who does not like a given researcher say that his/her work is bad or to be sympathetic to say that the work is excellent.

G: What are the main challenges an Editor faces regarding peer review?

PCC: Nowadays I see as a major challenge in peer review: (a) The commitment of some of the reviewers regarding the pre-determined deadlines, which are informed when sending the invitation. (b) Not to overload reviewers with too much work because it means having reviews with a low standard of quality. (c) Monitor and analyze the discrepancies in the evaluation, etc.

G: How do journals find good peer reviewers for your journal?

PCC: While searching good reviewers we try to make invitations to researchers who have an affinity for the areas that the journal intends to act and who: (a) Are linked to postgraduate programs. (b) Reviewers mainly from international congresses. (c) Authors who have at least a master’s degree and who are or wish to attend the PhD and have published interesting papers in international journals and conferences. (d) Through the contact network we created, for example, the group created in Gaudeamus or Linkedin. (e) Other reviewers of journals that we eventually have contact. But we also tried to assess the level of commitment of the reviewer regarding deadlines for review, the contributions they make to the articles they assess, because our goal is not only to publish many works, but works with quality and that contribute to the academy and society.

G: Does the perfect peer reviewer exist? How should she/he be?

PCC: In my opinion there is no perfect reviewer because we are human beings and therefore flawed. We can be affected by a number of variables, e.g. fatigue, stress, depression, overwork, family problems, financial and/or professional issues, etc.

Supposedly, publishers should worry about overwork, check if reviewers can assess, thank for the commitment to evaluate a particular article and meet deadlines.

G: Do you think that being a peer reviewer is important for a professor? Why?

PCC: It is certainly important because when a teacher will prepare your lesson or material support, (s)he cannot focus only on books, but also articles and opinions of others, so be participating as a reviewer and even as a researcher/author will help create more interesting lessons and current information, you can provide your students current examples.

I often tell my students: a good book may come up at bookstores and libraries with a delay of at least 2 years of the start of the research that generated it, due to adjustments and corrections. Like an article, a book must go through the evaluation and the rating of reviewers which can take months, not to mention the other phases.

G: Finally, what advice would you give to peer reviewers? (For example, how many articles to review a month or how much time dedicate to each review?, etc.)

PCC: Observe the policies of the journal regarding: (a) The deadlines for evaluation. (b) The amount of articles that will be submitted for evaluation by edition. (c) If the journal has affinity with their research area. (d) If the journal states the responsibilities of authors, (and) if you have a conflict of interest related to the policy. (e) If it presents the mission, vision and goal of the journal. (f) If it keeps an updated list of reviewers who evaluated the course articles over the years, etc.

But I also see that the prospective reviewers should bother to provide the greatest possible amount of information for the journal they are applying for, as an instance the area and method of research, and a brief professional biography.

Marketing your papers to make an impact: poll conclusions

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The poll was posted in March 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 650 answers were collected and many hot comments. The question was:  What do you do MOST to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited? And the results are:

  • Include the papers in your website and social profiles                                28.0%
  • Publish in indexed and open access journals                                                25.4%
  • Distribute  research early as working papers or tech reports                     16.0%
  • Active selling (promote it on web discussions, blogs, etc.                          12.2%
  • Other activities                                                                                                         4.2%
  • I do nothing                                                                                                            10.0%
  • I do not believe in impact indicators                                                                   4.2%

I have two comments. The first one is about the activities undertaken by professors, that apart from those mentioned above, it has also been discussed some others:

  • Publish with other scholars could help to increase the impact of the article. Research suggests that an article with co-authors is more cited than articles with just one author.
  • Be really strategic about your abstract and your title. Put key words in your title that will make them more likely to be picked up by search engines.
  • Twiter. Here I would mention that active selling in general is a laborious task, it is not enough posting it once at each website or discussion, it should be done regularly and with originality to not be a pain in the neck.

The other comment is on the activity of marketing your articles itself, it has not been accepted as expected, since for example almost 15% of the professors do nothing or do not believe in this citation system; particularly among the publishing industry professionals, which have come to qualify this activity as “snake oil salesman”, although they should be delighted, because professors are willing to be involved in disseminating their publications.

My conclusion is that, although the main focus should be on research and writing good papers, of course, the current imperfect but vital citation system prompts us professors to take action and be active sellers of our publications. Who dares to suggest professors to do nothing? To be passive?

Plagiarism is not unnatural

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This idea that plagiarism is not unnatural is very powerful, and the phrase is not mine, I copied it to a professor in a discussion on this topic in the social networks. The university (by the reports of students) and publishing world (by the papers in their journals) are concerned about plagiarism, as it is estimated that the level of plagiarism of digital content will reach 63% by 2014.

Now it’s easy to copy because technology facilitates it and there are much information available on the Internet, although it is a double-edged sword, because it will be increasingly difficult to say something new that is not in the network and also because there are increasingly better tools to detect plagiarism.

According the same estimates, more than half of the students think that plagiarism is natural and do not give it importance. Therefore, the best anti-plagiarism tool is to follow the work of each student. I’m tutoring several undergraduate and graduate theses, and the best guarantee is the weekly or monthly monitoring with the student, seeing their ideas, problems, their evolution, etc.

But this cannot be done with journals, as editors cannot track authors the same (we only need that!), but they have many options:

  • Set journal rules about previously published works. Now with open access is easier to know if there is something similar published.
  • Choose quality authors: university professors, PhD, academic affiliation, among other checks.
  • Use anti plagiarism tools to review manuscripts.
  • And there is always the peer reviewer filter, which will give a good look at the manuscript.

Returning to the main topic, we humans learn by imitating others, that’s how we improve as a species, allowing for the transfer of information between individuals and generations. Therefore, if plagiarism is not unnatural, what needs to be done is cite the sources, preferably by going to the original source, and use old ideas to build something new and give value to what we are providing. Well, that’s why the review of literature is an important part of a paper.

As professors, we lead and train generations, do you put enough emphasis on this issue? Do you teach students how to cite and deal with plagiarism?

The research process and web 2.0 skills for academics

Throughout the research process, professors have to develop a variety of multidisciplinary activities quite different and complex. The purpose of this blog post is to display the high-level phases of the research process and suggest the web 2.0 skills we need to develop for the success in our research and its dissemination.

web 2.0

1.     Research project definition, funding and collaboration 

At this stage, apart from the ideas and projects that are coming or you want to do, you need ability to raise funds and engage others to research with you, though you can do it alone and without resources, of course.  Both are not easy to get, but it can help if your research curriculum and publications are available and if you are known as an expert in your field of knowledge. This is what you would do to find collaborators, but it takes time, you do not build relationships overnight, so keep participating in web forums and assisting regularly to academic events and conferences.

2.     Research activity

Apart from the specific software needed for your research, you should also have to use open access repositories and libraries containing dissertations and working papers, as sources for documenting your research or having access to the current literature and methodologies about your research project.  There are now other web tools that can help you at this stage, as bookmarking internet pages and programs that enable you to share files with your collaborators.

3.     Publish in journals

Once you finished your research, there are some key activities to make your work published, as to think of what you want to do with the research, write the draft articles, and choose the journal where to publish. At this moment of the process it will be of great value having web 2.0 tools to connect with journal editors and seek help about how to get your research published in journals. You know that we are building Gaudeamus – the network for publishing in academic journals, and I am producing this blog, where you can find methods and thoughts to improve the chances of being published in indexed journals.

4.     Share your publications

This is an increasingly important skill for researchers, some publishers find it disgusting (one of them called me “snake oil salesman” in a web discussion on this topic), but it should be the opposite, because they would have an army of authors promoting their journals. Among the activities to be undertaken to promote your publications would be to include your papers in your website, your profile in Linkedin, FB or other communities; or active selling, as promoting your manuscripts in web discussions, blogs, or conferences.

Too many things to do for a professor to make an impact, apart from doing activities such as teaching and consulting. I really think that academics are one of a kind, don’t you think so?

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