A professor’s self-examination

a professor's self-examinationNow that the academic year is over and I am rested and recovered, it is time to do some self-assessment of how it went and to outline a plan for the coming year. This is a suggestion of questions for a self-examination as a professor.

First I have to be happy because I have the good fortune to be a university professor: it is a very varied, challenging and rewarding activity that allows me to make life better for others, to improve a little the world, and to grow as a person.

With respect to what is expected of me as a professor:

  • Did I prepare conveniently the classes?
  • Did I come to class on time? Did I go motivated or by mere compliance?
  • Did I correct/present the academic grades and other administrative documents on time?
  • Did I take the time to research and publish in academic journals? Did I seek to innovate in my research and contribute to the literature with my papers?

With respect to the others, students and colleagues:

  • Did I attend my students properly and with interest in their education?
  • How did I treat my peers? Did I willingly collaborate with them or did I just do the bare minimum required to meet my objectives?
  • Did I help other professors, for example from countries with fewer resources, to improve and publish, by providing my advice?
  • When a journal editor asked me to be a peer-reviewer, what did I do? Did I only accept if the journal had high impact factor?

With regard to myself and my goals:

  • Was I concerned about my training and reading to be a better teacher and researcher?
  • What was it that inspired my academic life: the others, improving the world, or else were the prestige and money?
  • Did I act as a professor normally in consciousness or was I driven by other motives such as obtaining publications, fear of losing the job, or what peers/students could say?

I understand that (academic) life is tough and stressful, and seeing how the things go in the world I’ll settle for the next course to fulfill my duties as a professor with students, to collaborate with my peers and to devote some time to study and research. And you?

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Teaching or research: what goes first?

Teaching or research - what goes firstBeing a university professor is very complex and demanding.

Professors generally are required to perform the following activities:

  1. Teach, conducting lectures and seminars; and mentor students.
  2. Perform advanced research in their fields, publishing their work in scientific journals.
  3. Provide consulting and advising functions, being this way closed to the reality.
  4. Conduct administrative or managerial functions at university or departments.

Is it possible, as some claim, to teach without research? At the end, being a good communicator has nothing to do with research.

What about research? Being a superb specialist does not mean that you are a good teacher, one can end up losing the wider scope of knowledge needed to teach.

But we are not just teachers (being good educators) nor pure researchers (improving the world), we are professors, we should master both of them; it makes sense and is required by all university and educational bodies all over the world, setting even the exact time for research and teaching.

Both are complementary and interwoven.

  • Teaching based on researching support the learning process and brings quality to teaching:  Research enriches teaching.
  • Research is fundamental in developing new knowledge and bridging the gap between academia and reality: Teaching develops research.

And going back to practical reality, the experience of successful professors is that both teaching and research spur our academic careers: without research one cannot be much effective in teaching, and vice-versa.

I am happy to be a university professor

teaching

This week I would like to share with you the personal opinion of professors about our work, our profession, how we see ourselves.

I summarize the responses, collected in the social networks.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE

  • Charlotte: We learn as we teach. Teaching requires a constant improvement of the mind. That keeps you young.
  • Deepak: It is the joy of knowing and the satisfaction of giving it back in a refined manner what you know and have learnt.
  • Kirsten: The challenge of acquiring new knowledge and passing it on.

CHALLENGE

  • Keshav: I love teaching because it gives me an opportunity to interact with young minds.
  • Denis: It’s knowing that we have challenged not only our wee students but colleague as well! I received this email recently: Sometime when I finish with you I need a brain massage (smile) enjoying every minute”
  • Ammini: It puts you in the right environment, intellectual colleagues, academic and cultural activities and a whole bunch of young enthusiastic students.
  • Gregory: I feel great being a professor because of the “high” I get when I leave the classroom every day!

PROUD

  • Wane: Being a Professor is just great and natural, it is a coveted title and I am proud of it because I worked and earned it.
  • Ashu: Can anyone get such love (from students) and respect in any other profession…?
  • Ralph: Teaching profession is the noblest of all professions in this world of human affairs.

REWARD

  • Jorge: I don’t know if I want to do anything else but teaching at this point in my career.
  • Charlotte: Sometimes there is a phone call or a letter from someone who remembers a phrase, an answer, an encouragement. That’s a big reward.
  • Ravi: When I feel sick I raise up muster some strength and take a class. After one hour I get renewed energy. I am happy to be a teacher.
  • Mohandas: I chose teaching as a profession way back in 1968,… and I am still in love with my profession, teaching.
  • Mike: An hour in a class room with enthusiastic students gives you enough stimuli to face the problems.
  • Shubash: Today I have completed over 40 years in this job and still admire of my decision. When students look into my eyes and listen to you, I felt satisfied and even great
  • Janet: It’s a hard job, but I love it like no other job I’ve ever had.

CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY / CHANGE AGENT

  • Yasmin: I feel that I have made a small but value added contribution to the society.
  • Howard: My job is …  to help others to see and work politically to achieve some measure of social justice and transformation.
  • Rup: My passion is working with my students in a lab setting. Many of my former students are working in the industry and that’s what makes my job worthwhile.
  • Sushil: Another thing that makes me feel very good is that I keep running into my students and it is so good to know that most of them have found very good jobs after two years at a community college.
  • Kate: My satisfaction came in large part as a “change agent” in their lives.
  • Dugdale: I enjoy most is seeing my students faces light up when “they get it” and watching them become a professional in their field of Physical Therapy.
  • Richard: I love the impact that I’ve had on my “kids”.

HELP OTHERS

  • Penny: I feel that I am molding new nurses and getting them started appropriately. I just love to teach. When I stop loving what I do, then I will stop.
  • Barry: Each year and each class is a new beginning. I love what I do in the classroom. Well-rounded students are the ultimate outcomes of today’s professors.
  • Mohammad: As a student I used to read to pass my own exams but now I am reading to ensure my students pass with merit!
  • Chris: It’s great to feel that you’re really helping people and having an impact on lives.
  • Jane: I always feel great every time am teaching my students, we are part of their future because we are there to support and help them.

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Profs are the inspiration for this blog and for Gaudeamus, built to help them to keep changing the world.

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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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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?

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.

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?

Start your love story with journals

blog3 - journal love

Whether you’re completely new to publishing, or are getting back onto the publishing scene after a break, there are a few things you should bear in mind before getting started.

After a thorough review of the literature, my conclusion is to keep MEETIC advice for dating, but applied to journals/editors instead of people:

  • Keep it real: You get what you give. Honesty and communication have often been viewed as the cornerstones of a happy relationship, so by being honest about yourself and what you’re looking for in a journal from the start, you’ll have a better chance of meeting a journal who’s right for you. (Target journals which fit your research quality and your curriculum excellence).
  • Get the most from your time. If you want to catch editors’ eyes and stand out from the crowd, it pays to be specific in your interests and to highlight the qualities you and your research have. (Submit well crafted papers).
  • Trust your instincts. Love generally happens over time, so if a journal you’ve never met or have recently made contact with asks you for money, they probably don’t have the best intention. (Wise piece of advice! Though I don’t necessarily agree with it regarding journals).
  • Be Date Smart. Meeting good journals for the first time can be extremely exciting, but be sure to keep your feet on the ground and stay sober throughout the date. (Heed what editors say, be positive and answer always in time, either accepted the paper with changes or rejected).
  • Long Distance Journals. Fifty years ago, the idea of ‘courting’ journals ‘who lived’ in the next town (much less across the globe) was pretty much unheard of. Today, technology has made it possible to publish in journals all over the world, and we constantly hear of inspiring long-distance and international journal love stories.

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

Publish or perish? The curse of the researcher

pirate

The idea of this post is to think about the need and urgency to publish in journals for an academic. To begin with, publishing regularly in good journals (peer-reviewed journals, covered in relevant indexes) is vital to upgrade your career as an academic.

This thing of publishing is a pimple I found when I finished my doctoral dissertation and started to take an interest in lecturing and academic career. I believed that to be smart and handsome (so to speak), to have a PhD and an MBA would be enough to get you hired at any university or business school. But it does not.

So there are two types of complementary reasons to publish in journals:

Reasons first class, politically correct, which editors love:

  • to improve the world and the science, producing solutions for our human problems.
  • because you are passionate about your research and you want to broadcast it.
  • as a reward in itself and a certification that your research activity is good enough.

Pragmatic reasons for pirates of the Caribbean, and survivors of the academic jungle:

  • to improve your curriculum and stand out.
  • to find a tenure position, or just a professor job.
  • to meet the requirements of the tenure, and not be fired.
  • to raise funds for your future research.

But, what are your objectives for publishing? Do you meet the rules? Or publishing is above anything else? Even jeopardizing your reputation in the publishing industry?

Research is fine, you learn, meet people and have fun (rich man), but many times the process of publishing is the other side of the coin (poor man). Gaudeamus helps you to improve the process of publishing in journals.

Focus and Scope

blog 1This blog is focused on helping academics, my peers, to get their research published in journals. How? By doing what I know to do and what I love: researching, writing and spreading my knowledge to others, that is why I am a university professor.

It is not that I am a champion of publication in journals, that everything that I send it is published at the first or that I break publication records, it is not the case even remotely. But I have been able to identify several small things of which I believe are key in this topic, and which I would like to share:

  • To give it the importance that it deserves, neither much nor little.
  • To incorporate the routine and the obligation to publish into our complicated agendas.
  • To understand the network of participants in this business: editors, journal managers and owners, publishing companies or reviewers, among others.
  • To identify the journals in which to publish, which index category, quartile or relevance, country or specialty, and how often to do it.
  • To build useful relationships with publishers.
  • To develop a method for producing attractive articles for editors and readers.
  • And many other things.

This blog therefore is not aimed at successful lecturers, with great local or international recognition, who think they do not need to publish in journals, but rather it is aimed at professors like me, hungry, wanting to build a consistent int’l curriculum and experience, who desperately look for approaching the publishing process in a smart and agile way.

Well, almost nothing!

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