I’m not stupid when publishing in journals

I’m not stupid when publishing in journalsLast week I gave a lecture (Professors and their publications. War techniques in the web 3.0 environment) in a private university on scientific publications within a seminar series on research. Though this is not the purpose of this post but one of the interesting topics discussed or that raised interest.

It was the attitude of the most senior or more experienced professors towards everything that had to do with the requirement of academic publications: they were quite critical of the current system of publications in indexed journals in assessing the quality of research, and by extension of academic accreditations and their impact on teaching skills.

But by now you know my position about the demands of publications for professors and scientists, which can be summarized in the Media Markt slogan “I’m not stupid”, but referring to publish in academic journals and to improve the research part of the curriculum:

  • What is important is the research activity, so to improve as a professor; but of course you can be a good teacher without having a PhD or publishing your research in journals, although it’s more difficult.
  • The quality of scientific research is currently assessed almost exclusively by the publication record in academic journals.
  • This system of publications in indexed journals (mainly in ISI Web of Knowledge and Scopus) is the one we have, which is pretty good by the way, you just have to know it a little, without obsessing.
  • You also have to know how editors and journals work, their needs and objectives.
  • Finally, social networks used wisely can also help to improve the chances of publishing in journals and that our papers are known, and then obtain citations.

The other related topic was h-index, which I don’t even remember most of it because nobody seems to demand it at my university or in the academic job posts that I see on the web, and that I will write about soon, not so much on how it’s calculated which is well-known, but on who calculates it or how I can get it, and about its advantages and disadvantages for professors as an alternative for assessing the quality of our research and prestige.

And what about your academic career? Do you care about your research activity?

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Cops’ and Profs’ professional careers: more alike than you think

With this post I risk that you tend to believe that I’ve gone completely mad, if you don’t already think so, but I see an interesting parallelism between the careers of university professors and that of police inspectors, that can enrich us all. I’ve managed to unite it conceptually because I wanted to be a police inspector during my college years, and my teenage son is considering it now.

Cops' and Profs' professional careers: more alike than you think

1. We are talking here about vocational public service professions.

2. You can make a career in the private sector, but these higher education and security services are mainly provided by the government.

3. The academic career has four general professional phases (there could be some differences in some countries), as the high level career ranks in the police:

  • Assistant Professor Vs Police Inspector: newly qualified, with no professional experience.
  • Lecturer Vs Chief Inspector: with at least 6 years of professional career.
  • Senior Lecturer Vs Commissioner/Superintendent: around 15 year career.
  • Full Professor Vs Chief Commissioner/Superintendent: If you’re show endurance and excellence during 10 more years.

4. To access these professions a particular training and studies are required:

  • Professors have to obtain a doctorate in their specialty, with a college degree.
  • Policemen have to pass a training course of one/two years, with the requirement of a university degree (or a minimum of credits), at least in Europe.

5. In both professions are required to perform a research activity to achieve results and progress in your profession.

Obviously, the amusing issue is the similarities between these two professions, but they also have many differences of course, which can help us to approach our educational careers in another perspective.

However, I am not so sure whether the police profession is so demanding and multidisciplinary as in higher education as we have to teach, research, and / or publish in academic journals, although the police one is supplemented, as far as I know, with the daily risks they face. So maybe being a cop, PhD and a part-time lecturer of law and criminology is a good choice of life, which is what I recommend to my son without any hope of being heard, of course.

POLL: Scientists, web tools and social networks

Scientists,  web tools and social networksInternet is assumed to help university professors and scientists, but there are so many web tools and social networks that often turn against researchers and academics, overwhelming them and eventually making them to use partially only a couple of them.

If we dig a little deeper, we see that for each stage of the research process there are specific tools. It is true that many of them try to cover all the processes, but in the end have only an advantage in just one activity in particular, which makes us perceive that these tools are duplicated for the same functions, or solve the same problem for scientists; and because the research process is complex and varied in itself, as you can see in the high-level scheme that I usually use:

  1. Research project definition, funding and collaboration
  2. Research activity
  3. Write the paper and publish in journals
  4. Share your publications

So I’m interested in what Internet academic tools and social networks you are using in the production process of your research and when publishing them in academic journals; it’ll be worth to learn and continue update our management and organizational research skills.

And get ready because they are quite a few, and I’ve only listed the most important ones…

* It can be chosen several answers

**Comments are highly encouraged

Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n’ Roll

The poll results changed my schemes (or rather, my expectations) a little bit; but I don’t know why it surprises me, because academics always answer our polls in a fair and sensible way, as you can see below. The question was What kind of conferences are you attending?

One of the comments was very graphic and explanatory: A professor assists to academic conferences to learn about the latest research in the field (updating), to test his research with his peers and meet scientists for future collaboration (networking), all in a high level university environment in another country that allowed him to get away from the pressure of everyday life (Rock n’ Roll), and even do some tourism in the free time.

Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n' Roll

My appreciation was that the current web 2.0 approach towards scientific conferences were also changing, particularly the issue of networking (with social communities), and because of traveling (it seems to me a bit cumbersome and costly, not always funding is provided). But of course, if you take it as a milestone once or every two years, as described before, things change significantly, and I’ll have to restate my relationship with conferences again.

Regarding the poll itself, my general conclusions and ideas are the following ones:

  1. Quality of the conference (52%) is important for respondents, which has much sense to meet peers for future collaborations and for testing our research.
  2. Around 15% of respondents believe that any kind of conference their field of knowledge is acceptable, I guess to meet the expectations of improvement and maintaining of curriculum, which is very legitimate.
  3. Have the paper published in the proceeding or journal is not the main objective when going to a conference (22%). This is the most interesting finding: for me assisting to conferences is a necessary part of the process of disseminating research, but is considered as two different things; I’ll have to investigate further about it.
  4. In order to reduce costs, I suggested assisting to conferences organized around the home city and even virtual ones (11%), but they obtained poor results, perhaps because funds are usually provided by universities.

So, have you chosen the conferences where you’re planning to attend in 2014? At Gaudeamus you can find a few from different organizers, fields of knowledge and countries, if you need some Rock n’ Roll, of course.

What kind of conferences are you attending? Poll results

  • Only to international conferences, 18.72%
  • Depending on the scientists / professors attending (for networking), 17.45%
  • Only those organized by universities or institutions that I trust, 15.74%
  • Any kind of conference my field of knowledge is acceptable, 14.89%
  • Only if the paper presented is published in the proceedings, 12.34%
  • Only if the paper presented is eligible to be published in indexed journals, 9.79%
  • Those organize in my city / my country, funding is not always available, 5.96%
  • I attend (or planning to attend) virtually, if possible, it’s a new interesting trend, 5.11%

* The poll was posted in November 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 950 answers were collected.

Best practices for university professors in 2014

Best practices for university professors in 2014The year is ending, so it’s a good time to revisit our development roadmap as professors and researchers, and not lose the rhythm and blur our ultimate goal. Now you know that my philosophy is a balance in academic activities and a continuous effort.

As best practices for university professors in 2014 I suggest the following ones, which are those that I currently have in mind for my development, but they are open of course to other practices to be completed, depending on your academic stage.

Teaching

1. Keep preparing your classes thoroughly. Analyze the feedback / evaluation from students.

2. Improve your presentation and class management skills. Use further the case method and the involvement of students at class and during the course.

3. Develop new content for seminars and courses to keep building your personal brand and keep learning.

4. Search and be open to new job opportunities. It’ll also help you to focus in the key skills required by universities.

Researching

5. Collaborate in research projects with others, if possible from different universities and countries.

6. Take care of your research project pipeline. Have projects in different stages: new ideas; research in process; and articles pending to be reviewed and submitted to journals.

– In 2014, publish 1 paper in a journal indexed in JCR (Thomson Reuters); 1 indexed in EBSCO/Scopus or the like; and 1 indexed in a regional or specialized field database.

– Go identifying journals that best fits your articles. Try Gaudeamus – The academic network for publishing in journals.

7. Disseminate your published papers periodically in the social networks, such as Google+, Linkedin, ResearchGate or Acadamia.edu.

Other activities

8. Keep peer-reviewing papers for indexed journals, and collaborating as Board Member of research Institutions and journals.

9. Be attentive to new opportunities to start a business and transfer knowledge to society, based on your specialized scientific background.

10. Help other colleagues and students; be kind to people.

  

I wish you a happy holiday season and a rewarding 2014 for you and your families.

Poll: Is it really worth academically attending conferences?

Poll: Is it really worth academically attending to conferences?I know it’s a strong start, if it’s really worth academically attending conferences, but I really wonder about it. This is another one of the themes that surprisingly emerged when I started my career as a university professor: Submit dissertation / papers to international conferences is required to complete your research resume; and now I realize that in the future it will be necessary for obtaining further citations. Take that!

The process generally agreed to disseminate the result of a research paper is as follows:

  1. First, doing the research.
  2. After that, preparing a draft of the manuscript.
  3. Reviewing it with your peers and/or department.
  4. And then, sending it to a conference.
  5. To finally publishing a paper in a journal indexed on a first level database, as Web of Knowledge (Thomson Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier) or EBSCOhost.

This process makes sense and serves a clear purpose of testing the research paper, although the process may well be extended to more than 2/3 years since having the research finished. And it looks like as if designed to measure to insecure people who do not trust themselves or their work, and who needs to be given the nod everywhere possible before disseminating their results.

Also I haven’t very clear that all conferences are equal in terms of relevance, or at least there is no quality assurance or databases attesting them, as with journals. So it would be the same attending one or the other whenever international, organized by a reliable university or institution, with scientific committee and peer-review process.

Finally, before moving on to the poll, I also want to mention that you must be careful with the publication of proceedings; as Editor-in-Chief I’ve seen a publisher reject an article because it appeared on the website of an old conference, even though the rules of the journal allowed it.

Well, today I’m very interested in your opinion about the conferences you attend. This world is also changing, and each time I don’t feel like travelling and convincing people who don’t even read my work.

* It can be chosen several answers.
**Comments are highly encouraged.

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

What a surprise! There have been fewer responses than in other polls, I thought that there were more interest on this topic, but the results are clear on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index.

Is Google Scholar a good indicator of your quality of research activity and influence?

Poll results on quality of research: Journals 3-2 H-Index

* The poll was posted in October 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 470 answers were collected.

Although Google Scholar is open and reliable because it treats scholars equally, it’s not considered to be a good indicator of quality of research activity and influence. It’s incredible and difficult to digest because I had a hope in this. So I guess what you can think of Altmetric, which is based on an ample idea of impact, not just on academic production…

The reasons for these results are implicit in the survey because, if on the one hand these metrics provide useful public information, on the other hand I understand that, in general, H-Index metrics have the following barriers:

  1. It adds pressure on researchers.
  2. No organization seems to be looking seriously at them.
  3. Not many people are using them, because their citations are poor comparing with those of some champions in the sciences, and because is another annoying tool to take care of.
  4. And mainly because it is still considered that journals are a better indicator of quality of research.

Well okay, I get it, we’ll look at the individual metrics but focusing on publishing in indexed journals. I don’t think that in the medium term this will change much, peer-review will remain the king of research quality assessment, and makes perfect sense.

But instead, for journals these results are a triumph and a shot of adrenaline. The road for them is to be indexed in well-known databases and be open to open access to allow authors to be cited and have an impact, isn’t it?

Peer-review revisited. The last journals’ scandals effect

Peer-review revisited. The last journals’ scandals effectLately there have been some scandals regarding some low quality academic publications or fraud involving several journals, an issue that is not new and that is affecting the current model of journals and peer-review system. So much so that The Economist has written an interesting and intricate article on this subject (How science goes wrong), in which scolds the industry, coming to say that:

  1. Peer-review system is not enough to guarantee the quality of research
  2. It is important that research results can be replicated, and in many cases have not been made by tech firms, because data were allegedly manipulated.
  3. Also blames journals, which may be selecting the more sensational or interesting articles for their readers.

To solve this problem it raises fairly complex ideas, difficult to implement in practice from my point of view for all fields of knowledge, such as including a system of post-publication evaluation, or even registering the research protocols, so it can be monitored and trial data can be tested and inspected.

Currently, publish in journals is an elephant pregnancy, 22 months: once the draft research is ready, it must be passes to a paper format, with the following peers and co-authors revisions; then you have to choose the right journal; adjust the paper to its specific format and translate  it to the proper language, if necessary; then you have to send it to the journal, which usually have up to 90% of rejections, and take up to a year to be re-reviewed and eventually accepted.

Therefore, I think that complicate the process would be counterproductive, but I agree that something certainly should be done because this system gives rise to errors and fraud, which could lead to a slower advance of science and humanity.

As a researcher in finance, it comes to my mind the implementation of corporate governance practices but applied to academic journals and research (Journal Governance), which is somehow already being done. The prevailing logic would be that journal practices are aligned with each other, as well as with the academic environment in which they operate.

(It will continue.)

Where do journals go to find articles and authors?

Lately there are many places in internet proliferating with calls for papers in different social networks and web pages. That makes sense, since it is a method traditionally used in academia for collecting research journal articles and conference presentations.

A call for paper is usually distributed using a mailing list or on specialized online services, trying journals to target as much professors and researchers as possible:

  • Direct mailing with their own databases, either of published authors or authors who have submitted rejected articles, which should be a lot in some academic journals, though not necessarily happy.
  • Use data from their subscribers and readers. Many of them are usually professors or researchers.
  • Another source is directly the Universities and Faculties, through the secretaries or heads of departments, but it takes time to find and update the data.
  • It is also common now to communicate the call for papers on social networks such as Linkedin or on specialized websites, as WikiCFP.

At the end it turns out to be like going hunting journals, there are thousands of call for papers that come to your e-mail and many web pages where to go, and eventually as always you have to analyze each journal: its indexation and field of knowledge. That is, the difficult part is that your current scientific paper or research has to match with the need of a specific journal.

Apart from the call for papers, other tool journals have to find content and authors is writing in their editorials or webpages their interests or content sought for the future. An author may read it and try to meet this need writing something for the journal. I tried but it is not easy to design or research something on a determined topic in the short term.

The ultimate method is Gaudeamus, an online community of scholars (professor, researchers and journal editors) with the common goal of getting research published in journals; giving authors the opportunity to communicate directly with editors seeking quality content for their journals. Because, at the end, publishing papers is not only about searching databases and call for papers, it is also about networking with journal editors.

Authors, what do you do when looking for journals to publish your articles?

Journal Editors, where are you going to look for authors and quality papers?

Where do journals go to find articles and authors?

Connecting journals and papers, researchers and editors

POLL: Do you bet your future as a researcher on Google Scholar metrics?

POLL: Do you bet your future as a researcher on Google Scholar metrics?The journals’ world is boiling: Internet and Open Access is questioning the indexed journals’ model, from anonymity in peer review to the selection criteria of the directories or databases, and the calculation of the journal impact indicators.

An alternative model to measure the quality of research are the personal citation indexes (H-index), which allow open tools, accessible and public such us Google Scholar; although, there are also private metrics, or at a cost, as Altmetric.

  • The change is motivated because the indexed journals’ model doesn’t just convince scientists, because of the power that some journals and private directories have. But it is producing an undesirable effect, that the two models are used now to evaluate the quality of research, with the danger of drowning professors and scientists even more.
  • And paradoxically, journals are also pressured in some way, because now they have to ‘promise’ implicitly that their published articles will be cited more with them.

Google Scholar metrics are here to stay. What do you think? Do you bet on your citation appeal?

* It can be chosen 1 o 2 answers.
**Comments are highly encouraged.

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