Back to basics: The roll of journal indexes

I wonder about the contribution of journal indexes / databases to the assessment of research quality.

Lately, and against what would be logical given the major changes being experienced by the publishing industry, professors are increasingly required to publish in journals indexed in Journal Citation Reports (JCR), both statewide for accreditation as at universities, especially in private ones.

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If indexes and impact indicators were a kind of accreditation on the quality of journals’ processes, particularly on peer review quality and editorial board, I would understand all this alarm about publishing in first class reputable indexes. But apparently not:

  • Being in JCR, journals have to demonstrate to be a regular publication, printed in English, have an international editorial board and other requirements that have little to do with the quality of the papers within.
  • Having a journal indexed in Scopus and other known ones, it is enough to filling out a form giving them permission to use the journal data.
  • Following the same line, other similar indexes (generalists, regional or specialists), only require an application form to be filled.

So, what are the main sources of prestige for a journal? I pointed just a few:

  • Large base of readers.
  • Quality of authors and papers.
  • Sound peer reviewer processes, with good reviewers and feedback.
  • Good Editorial board and clear editorial line, objectives, etc.

If that is somehow true, then, what makes the difference with un-indexed peer review journals? I have not it very clear, it looks like a kind of complex corporate governance system for journals: different publishing stakeholders (indexes, journals, professors, researchers, universities, departments, accreditation bodies, governments, readers, peer reviewers, editors, journal owners, etc.) taking care of research prestige and reputation.

Many voices in academia call for a change, but, is there a better system than journal indexes and impact indicators to assess quality of research?

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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?

journal burning

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

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.

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.
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