Women, Academia and Science: some facts and ideas

In general, I have interest about the issue of gender in today’s society, but I had not related it to the world of education and academia, so I’ve started to document myself. To begin with I found a couple of interesting ideas, both interrelated.

women and academia

The first one is the Matilda Effect, which says the women scientists often get less credit than a comparatively male researcher, even if their work is similar.

And the second idea is what it is suggested by some very interesting statistics about women and academia, referred to STEM fields of knowledge (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics):

  • Female students’ global share in higher education is 41% in natural sciences and 21% in engineering (UNESCO, 2010).
  • Women’s share of doctoral degrees in engineering and science:
    • Republic of Korea         16% – 44%
    • European Union           33% (overall)
    • USA                                  21% – 31%
    • Japan                              12% – 27%
  • 27% of researchers in STEM sciences are women (OCDE, 2008):
    • Argentina, 51%, has the highest proportion in the world of women researchers. Argentina is in fashion: A Pope, a Queen, a Soccer Star and Gender Friendly in Academia!
    • USA, 41%. 30% professors.
    • Europe, 34%
    • Brazil, 25%
    • Japan, 14%
  • Researcher, publications and patents women ratios (Naldi et al, 2005):
    • Spain:                36%, 27% y 11%
    • Italy:                   33%, 26% y 6%
    • France:              31%, 25% y 9%
    • Sweden:            31%, 18% y 5%
    • UK:                     28%, 16% y 6%
    • Germany:          24%, 14% y 4%

And this is in Higher Education, where most of it is funded by governments, which are supposed to take care of these gender questions…

Many solutions are proposed medium term, as making STEM education friendly to women or changing policies to increase women’s share in research (Schiebinger, 2010), but I wonder if web 3.0. tools for academics may be part of the solutions, helping to balance women’s familiar and academic life.

Poll: reasons when selecting a journal to submit a paper

dudando

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

copyright2

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?

Listening to journal editors: Dr.Max Haring from SpringerPlus

Dr. Max Haring is currently the executive editor for SpringerPlus, Springer’s first international peer-reviewed Open Access journal for research from all disciplines. Max has nearly 6 years of publishing experience as editor for books and international subscription journals in different areas of biomedicine, mainly microbiology, ageing and genetics. Before he joined Springer Science and Business Media, Max did his MSc at Wageningen University and his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Amsterdam, both in the Netherlands. Max lives in Amsterdam.

Max Haring

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

Max Haring: SpringerPlus is open for research from all areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, the Humanities and Social Sciences. For SpringerPlus a manuscript is never out of scope: if the science is sound, we will consider it for publication. Because of this all-inclusive scope, a manuscript will not be rejected because its topic does not match our profile: For SpringerPlus it is really only the scientific quality that counts. All submissions are handled by our interdisciplinary international board of academic editors and board members, and I am in the lucky position to be able to boast of our great team of expert researchers. These academics will handle peer-review for all manuscripts by finding field specialists to assess the quality, and using their expertise to reach a decision to accept or reject. SpringerPlus also has a message to our reviewers that is different from most journals: we ask our reviewers to look at the research facts presented in the manuscript: Are all technical and methodological aspects of the research correct and accurate, is the research original and do the conclusions match the findings? We ask our researchers not to judge on more subjective matters like how large the audience for a particular study is, what the impact of the study will be or if the study fits the journal. This approach allows us to make studies that are difficult to publish in traditional journals, such as interdisciplinary, descriptive or data-heavy papers, methodological improvements and short reports.

Gaudeamus: How is the average reader of your journals? What are they looking for?

Max Haring: We publish our download statistics online at http://www.springerplus.com/mostviewed so everyone can follow what’s happening, and I must admit I am surprised to see which articles are downloaded often. Currently the most accessed paper is one on brain damage after sports-related concussion, which may have some relevance for the general public, but in our list are also several articles on biological waste management, a few clinical care management studies and an improved method to measure the purity of gold samples – all very technical articles that I would not have considered to be of general interest, but still they are frequently downloaded. I believe these articles are the best example of how SpringerPlus works for authors to get their work published, read and used.

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

Max Haring: Indexing is a crucial aspect of academic publishing, and being in the right indexes is essential for the success of any journal. Many authors make their decision to submit their next manuscript based on where a journal is indexed, because of professional preference or because their university or funder demands this. Having said that, we do see that the importance of indexes for literature searches lessens every year, they’re losing ground to search engines like Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search. In addition, the increased availability of Article Level Metrics (altmetrics) makes the quality stamp given by indexes less important. Readers and authors now have more tools to determine the quality of an individual article: after all, an article can be very good even when it is published in an average journal, and altmetrics can show scientific value independent of indexing or impact factor.

Gaudeamus: Open access is driving change in the publishing industry, how do you think is going to affect research and the measurement of its impact?

Max Haring: Historically the academic publishers provide researchers with a published version of record, a fixed point in the scientific literature for people to read and cite, and this has not changed much since the focus moved from print to online publications. Publishing in an online environment does bring new and exciting possibilities, and I believe open and unrestricted access to research is essential here. One of the least discussed aspects of Open Access (green and gold) is that reuse of the text and data is allowed: Open Access allows us to analyse and combine data now locked away in thousands of individual PDF files with limited accessibility. The specifics of this depends somewhat on the license (like CC-BY with or without NC), but scientists and companies are now free to access and process a huge and growing body of data and text, without barriers. I am confident that the availability of Open Access literature will encourage new developments, for instance by enabling text mining and semantics, for testing new algorithms and creating new clever ways to represent and access data. The availability of Open Access literature also has great benefits for researchers from low-income countries or at smaller institutes without subscription access and it is as strong driver for citizen science projects.

Gaudeamus: What are the main problems an Executive Editor of several international journals face?

Max Haring: Heading a truly interdisciplinary journal like SpringerPlus has some unique challenges of its own. For instance we have to meet the expectations and demands of authors from mathematics as well as philosophy and medicine, who all have different ideas on how an article should look. At the same time we have to make sure their work is published with high quality and as quickly as possible: our authors expect fast turn-around times.  I am however in the lucky position of being part of Springer, a large and experienced company with a long history in academic publishing, and it is very easy to get advice from my colleagues in publishing, marketing and production. At the same time I consider it a great privilege to be able to meet, correspond and discuss with researchers around the world and from all disciplines. Science is my passion and for me it is all about learning new things: I still get excited when clever researchers discovered something new and interesting; that can really make my day.

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

Max Haring: Look carefully at the aims and scope, instructions for authors and editorial board before submitting, even before looking at metrics like the impact factor. Find the best match between a manuscript and a journal, because this means the manuscript will be handled by experts who give valuable feedback, and when published the article will reach the most relevant audience. Always look for journals that provide DOIs (digital object identifiers) and post alternative metrics, so you know what is happening, and always go for Open Access (green or gold). And don’t forget to do marketing for your papers after publication: send PDFs to colleagues, advertise your article at conferences and blog or tweet about your publication. All these efforts will bring readers first and citations later.

How to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited?

citationThe dissemination and impact of research for academics is increasingly vital, either to find a position/tenure or to earn prestige. And this impact is being measured by some publishing companies by the number of citations that your publications have from other authors.

Although the main focus should be on research and writing good papers, and knowing that  the current citation system could be improved, we should also consider to sell our publications a little bit; let’s call it “citation marketing”.

What do you do to increase the probabilities of your papers to be cited?

1. Distribute early your research as working papers or technical reports.

2. Include your papers in your website, your profile in Linkedin, FB or other communities.

3. Publish in indexed and open access journals.

4. Active selling, as promoting your manuscripts in web discussions, blogs, or conferences.

5. Other activities (please add them in the comments).

6. I do nothing.

7. I do not believe in impact indicators.

Benchmark with your peers: Q&A with a prolific PhD Fellow

Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri
Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri is currently enrolled in the PhD program at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Malaysia. Previously, He has been working as lecturer and independent researcher. At the present, Arsalan is working as research team member in a project granted by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. His research interests are marketing practices and data analysis. Arsalan is a prolific fellow: has produced 39 publications (3 monographs+36 research papers) in 8 different countries in two and a half years
.

Gaudeamus. How do you manage your time to do research?

Arsalan Mujahid Ghouri. Maybe its difficult to find time for research for others, but in this case, gym, jogging, sleeping, research… working could be included in my hobby list. I devote 6-8 hours daily to some kind of research.

G. What drives you to publishing in journals?

AMG. Initially, when I start thinking about writing a research paper, I felt it impossible. But in first attempt, my paper took 4 revisions and accepted in around 2 years in Saudia Arabia. That was my starting and turning point, and after I got 4-5 publications, people recognize me as researcher and writer, which drives me to do more research work and help others.

G. How do you choose the journals where to publish?

AMG. My first preference is quality of  published articles, indexing and the country of journal.

G. How many articles do you publish a year? Do you have any pressure to publish?

AMG. As being PhD candidate, the requirement is to publish 2 articles in PhD tenure. I’ve 39 publications (3 monographs + 36 research articles) in 8 different countries in 3 years.

G. You are editor of some open access journals, what is your motivation to do it as an academic?

AMG. Basically this is the aspect of my life which I never think about. This is a privilege for me as an associate editor of four different journals and reviewer for two journals. Maintaining a journal is an achievement for an academician, working as a driver for me to keep on this work.

G. What advice would you give to novel researchers regarding publishing in journals?

AMG. Produce a paper or thesis is a learning and slow process. According to me, a person need five different skills to write a paper/ thesis.

  • 1st, Try to be fine to prove your point for conducting research,
  • 2nd Develop techniques in searching and extracting the related material from the Internet/ libraries and research articles,
  • 3rd Become an expert in statistics and applications,
  • 4th Make an effort to interprete the scenario you face after getting results,
  • 5th Try to become an advisor which can dig out key advices/ findings from the interpretations.

I am still a learner, and I’ll suggest that don’t be in hurry to get expertise in five above discussed skills, be patient, take your time, practice will gonna make you perfect…

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