Book review: ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’

For some time I wanted to read a book to improve my skills to write good literature reviews, although I haven’t had many problems with peer-reviewers on this issue in particular, especially when I do a good job documenting my thesis research.

There are some specialized books in the field of literature review, but I found this in particular, ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success (Machi & McEvoy, 2012) that looked nice and was not an expensive e-Book , which makes things easier since I’m trying to getting rid of the paper lately.

Book review: ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’As always, I’ll use this manual to perform the literature review of my next co-authored article, on international business models in the insurance industry, that is already well advanced, and we intend to submit to a Q1/Q2 JCR (Thomson Reuters) journal.

By having my academic paper already underway, the topic chosen and the research literature documented, I could jump three quarters of the content, the one on research design, choosing the topic of interest and its justification, and searching the existing literature. But of course I will use the methodology in the future for the research that I have in the pipeline, you can always improve your skills on this.

As for the review itself, I find very useful the structure provided for the review writing, indeed basic, simple and reasonable, which helps you have a schema that could help you to complete your ideas, thesis, analyzed documentation and its evaluation; that is, you are no longer faced with a blank paper when starting the literature review, but with a guide that facilitates this important part of your manuscript.

Since my goal is not to be a champion of the literature review, I’ll use this guide as a reference, because the main thing is to have our scientific paper understood, accepted, and published in journals, for which:

  • You have to take care of all the ingredients expected for a scientific journal, as a good review of the literature.
  • It should match the quality of the rest of the article.

In conclusion, the book is okay, a bit theoretical, but what do you expect? At least have a practical approach in 6 steps, but the first 3 and the last 2 are a kind of filler text, but I think undoubtedly that it contributes to help you not to forget these basic steps of the literature review and the composition of the thesis research and its documentation.

If you don’t have a peer beside to help you to improve your skills as a reviewer of the literature, the best idea is to read a manual like this, don’t you think? You can find it in our Bookstore as a Basic Book.

The future of scientific research dissemination: Liberalism back again

The future of scientific research dissemination: Liberalism back againLast week was the presentation of my book ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’ and attended as speakers one of the foremost authorities in Spain on accreditation, the President of ACAP; the Director of the Corporate Finance Department at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and the Library director of the Faculty of Business and Economics; who brought their different views on the future of scientific research dissemination.

In the later discussion, there were addressed two issues of particular relevance, which I found interesting to comment here for its reflection.

1. We were wondering if it makes sense for a centralized agency to evaluate professors, and somehow tell the universities which of them could recruit.

  • It would be something similar to university admissions, there is now a centralized evaluation to be replaced in the near future by the specific of each college, American style.
  • Accreditation agencies would focus then to certify program studies and not to professors, seen as a private subject, of its quality and vision of teaching.
  • Many professors present at the event, as me, were slightly perplexed since we are working very hard on our accreditations, and because this new scenario would put it much harder for their foreseeable lack of transparency and equality of criteria.
  • But this change in evaluations doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take care of our academic curriculum, on the contrary, the requirements will not be lower.

2. The other interesting point is that probably the future of quality of research dissemination is not in the Platform (journals, repositories or even peer-reviewed books and conferences), but in the number of citations.

  • Although the results of the last poll I conducted on this topic reflected the opposite, which was the opinion of researchers about their current situation; in the future more emphasis will be given to citations obtained than to the relevance of the journals in which research is published, both closely interrelated.
  • Moreover, publish papers in journals is not the only thing that measures the impact or quality of research, but there are other important activities, such as patents and transfer of knowledge to society through the creation of start-ups.

That is, the conclusion I draw is that the important thing is to do research, publishing is its result, not the goal, or the system become perverted. Either way, we professors expect troubled times (you know: life is change, change is life), but not necessarily for the better academically and for the future of society. It is the vision of radical liberalism that now prevails, I guess.

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.

Book review: ‘How to get research published in journals’

This is my review of the book, ‘How to get research published in journals‘ (A. Day, 2007), the first of which I will perform in the future on the subject of writing and publishing scientific papers, and it will serve me to open a new series in the blog about short reviews of books.

Book Review: 'How to get research published in journals'I used this book following its instructions for a research paper I wanted to place in a journal indexed in JCR (Thomson Reuters), and the result was a complete success, though it was accepted in the second journal to which I sent it. Furthermore, it also gave me the idea to found the social network GAUDEAMUS and this blog, so I have much affection and appreciation to this book, and in order to thank it somehow, apart from this blog post, we’re featuring it at the Bookstore as a Basic Book.

  1. The book is intended as a handbook of how to publish, and covers three main areas: Why publish; meeting the cast of the publishing process; and how to write the paper from the draft research. The first part was not helpful, because I’m very motivated to write and publish; I understand it necessary for my academic career. What it gave me is its insistence on the contribution of what we do, and to make it clear in the paper.
  2. It is noted from the outset that the author is experienced and knows the process of publishing and the journals’ world, but what I value most is the introduction of an important aspect, the reader: We don’t just have to write for the editors and peer-reviewers, of course, since at the end of the day journals live on its customers, and you have to understand what they need.
  3. Instead, it is a bit weaker and confusing about writing the paper. It only gives the basic strokes on the abstract and points of style, so it is necessary to complete this book with other specific on writing, the literature review or research craft.

In conclusion, I recommend it as a basic book, which has an Anglo-Saxon approach, therefore useful to publish in English or American journals, although it doesn’t serve me for that, paradoxically, because it was rejected in an American JCR, though then accepted in an European one. It also lacks a holistic approach with a model that would serve for organizing the process to publish your research, so it was also a source of inspiration to write my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0‘. Thank you Abbey!

Women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

women academics on fire, the sciences on ice

I am passionate about the issue of women and academia; well, generally in everything that has to do with higher education and publications. Here I found several different issues, on two different levels.

The first level has to do with women’s access to higher education, which I won’t go this time. The other level is more sophisticated, if I can use the expression, and includes two issues in particular:

  1. The first is why women don’t have access to full professor positions, which I wrote about obliquely in another post about self-citations; being the reason, in short, their publications in journals.
  2. And the other is why there are fewer women holding professorships in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which is what I will discuss or reflect here (women academics on fire, the sciences on ice).

The other day I received a McKinsey article on women; articles that are almost always good and interesting. It was called ‘How to attract US women to the sciences’, and was saying that “compared with their counterparts elsewhere, American women shun STEM fields of knowledge”.

The reasoning i not simple: it is not that science appeals less to women, or that they make it worse than men, which is almost the opposite, at least in high school (Mckinsey, 2013); but that they are less interested in choosing these types of grades at college. In other words, in general, women are not attracted to STEM sciences as a career option, the place where they will spend the rest of their lives….

  • And going further, it is not that women are not interested at all, it is that the alternatives are better, at least in developed countries, such as business, nursing or law (academic) careers; which now have better or equal prestige and opportunities than that of the STEM areas.
  • Additionally, it appears that academic careers in STEM areas are less rewarding for women, at least in terms of publications, since female scientists often get less credit than a comparatively male researcher, even if their work is similar.

If this is really so, that STEM science careers in academia is not so attractive to women, what can be done? Should we do something? Even if women themselves are against it? It may also be that women are not fascinated by the idea of ​​being in an academic world in which their work is less valued, even by themselves, and this indeed can be changed.

Open Access Journals: The model that would be king. Poll results

Open Access Journals - The model that would be king - Poll results2The topic of Open Access (OA) has already been widely discussed in academia and currently it is a common reality in the publishing world, but there are still some doubts and suspicions on the part of scientists, as we shall see.

Are you submitting your articles to open access journals? was the question of the poll, and at first glance its results are clearly optimistic: we love this OA model.

  1. 62% of the respondents would submit their articles to OA journals.
  2. 35% would send it, but after good analysis of the OA journal: indexation, impact factor and fees to authors, which make sense anyway.
  3. 23% of professors wouldn’t, which is a pretty high percentage of them.
  4. 15% of them don’t mind about OA, they just mind about journal indexation, so I suppose they care little about their citations.
Open Access Journals: The model that would be king. Poll results

* The poll was posted in August 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 700 answers were collected.

But we have to keep in mind the bias of the sample, because it corresponds to professors and researchers who routinely use technology and internet. That is, within the cream of the crop, 38% (23% +15% above) still remains some skepticism about sending their papers to OA journals.

On the other hand, another reading of the results is that OA journals are acceptable for scientists, but only if they meet certain minimum traditional academic etiquette (and of common sense): quality, indexed, peer-review and reputation of their board.

My impression is that although OA has been with us for decades, that publishers are making good use of it and that authors need it because it represents a clear advantage, it has yet to completely establish itself as a model. But, who wants to miss this train of OA journals?

Writing a paper, an overvalued skill?

writing a paper, an overvalued skill?With the publication and promotion of my eBook ‘Publish in Journals 3.0’, I am learning a lot about academic books. For example, I discovered that on Amazon there are hundreds of books on how to write a paper: with different names, in different sizes, general ones and specialized in different fields of knowledge, such as social sciences or biology.

Only this fact gives an idea of ​​the interest of professors and PhD students for writing well, giving then, in the process of publishing in journals, greater importance to the writing part of the paper, but this process consists of several stages:

  1. Research activity
  2. Plan the impact (or setting the strategy for publication)
  3. Construct (write) the manuscript
  4. Interact with the elements (journals, tools, editors, peer-reviewers)
  5. Share your publications

I think that the quality of any paper is given by the research activity, methodology used and contribution, which should the center of all this, not the writing of the article. The writing would appear in a second level of priority. In the third place would be networking with editors.

So going a bit further, I wonder if some scientists believe that a well-written paper can fix a bad research activity. In order to not to be too strict, I guess that it could do it in some cases, depending on the editors, peer-reviewers and the type of journals; after all, publishing a paper consists of various activities and skills, as mentioned before.

Leaving aside the personal ability of each academic to write, in theory it is assumed that the content and structure of a paper should be taught in the universities, during the PhD, with the tutor; but we know that this is not entirely true, it depends on our interest. In the end, for improving this writing skill, we need to read other journals, consult books and blogs, and pay some attention to the comments from the editors and peer-reviewers.

The truth is that I had underestimated the interest of scientists for writing well, so I’ll pay to it more attention in the future. And you? What are you doing to write better?

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