Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

There are many pressures for change regarding the dissemination of research, such as the current Web 3.0. technology environment in education, open access journals/repositories and the consolidation of citation metrics tools.

Professors and researchers shared with us their vision about the future of publishing, voting in the poll.

Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

Indexed journals have been adding high value to all academic stakeholders, and they will be.

Traditional vs Alternative means of dissemination in academia. Poll results

In general, it could be seen in the results a balance between the traditional (48%) and the alternative (52%) means of dissemination in academia, but there are other conclusions quite interesting:

  1.  “Open access journals/directories with peer review” was the preferred mean of dissemination, with 29% of the votes; it makes sense due to the expectation that citation rankings are creating.
  2. Both added, “Indexed journals” + “impact factor”, would be the most voted (39%); the current journal system still prevails.
  3. “Repositories with peer review” + “number of downloads”, were voted by 21% of respondents, opening an interesting way to new alternatives for the dissemination of scientific knowledge in academia.

Traditional vs Alternative

Professors are rational people with common sense, we understand that change is needed in the system, but little by little, as it is working reasonably well. It’s like we will be waiting to see how those changes develop and how journals and publishing houses respond to them. Sure they do well.

* The poll was posted in June 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 900 answers were collected. 

Research in Sciences: Pieces of advice from an outstanding researcher

m guillenMontserrat Guillén was born in Barcelona in 1964. She received a Master of Science in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics in 1987 and a PhD in Economics from University of Barcelona in 1992. She got an MSc in Data Analysis from the University of Essex (United Kingdom). She was Visiting Research faculty at the University of Texas at Austin (USA) in 1994. Montserrat also holds a Visiting Professor position at the University of Paris II, where she teaches Insurance Econometrics. Since April, 2001 she is chair professor of the Department of Econometrics at the University of Barcelona. Montserrat was awarded the ICREA Academia distinction.

Her research focuses on actuarial statistics and quantitative risk management. She has published many scientific articles, contributions to book chapters and books on insurance and actuarial science. She is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Risk and Insurance – the official journal of the American Risk and Insurance Association, a senior editor of Astin Bulletin – the official journal of the International Actuarial Association, and chief editor of SORT – Statistics and Operations Research Transactions.  Montserrat was awarded by the Casualty Actuarial Society and received the International Insurance Prize. She is a highly cited academic in the field of risk management and insurance. She was elected President of the European Group of Risk and Insurance Economists, the Geneva Association, in 2011. She serves in many scientific boards, international programs and steering committees and conducts R&D joint programs with many companies.

Gaudeamus. How do you select your research projects, or do they select you? 

Monserrat Guillen. I usually apply for research project funding to academic institutions. The topics are usually basic research with a very long term and ambitious perspective, which means that the application is not going to be immediate. When private funding comes into place, it is usually because a very specific research with direct transfer to the industry is expected

G. You usually collaborate with international scholars, it should not be easy to coordinate and organize research, is there any aspect worth mentioning that could help us researchers regarding international projects? 

MG. There must be a leader. The leader must be open-minded, active, motivating and has to set up short term and long-term goals for the team. Everyone involved must know his/her role in the project and why his/her contribution is important to the whole group.

G. If you had to prioritize, what do you put in the first place: teaching or researching? 

MG. Both. Even if a lecturer is very good, good teaching is even better with good research. I find that usually we forget that research advances have to be introduced in the syllabuses and this is essential for high quality education. Research also benefits from teaching, because communicating research results needs many of the skill that is developed when teaching.

G. What is the research activity you like most?

MG. I really enjoy the instants when a new result is obtained. There are some seconds of doubt, and then an explosion of joy when the result is confirmed. Sometime this happens when working on my own and sometimes this is shared with colleagues. If I obtain a results and no colleague is next to me, I would immediately tell it with my colleagues.

G. Once you have a draft research document, what key issues should be taken into account until it is published?

MG. Audience, structured, correctness in all sense

G. Internet and open access is changing the scholarly publishing industry, is it also changing research activity?

MG. It does because searching information is much easier than it used to be. Reading the essential papers is important when there are so many out there.

G. How do you choose the journals where to publish?  Or if you prefer, what are you looking for in a journal?

MG. The topic and the impact factor. I look for a sign of quality

G. Finally, what advice would you give to novel researchers (for example, about collaboration, time dedicated to research, make an impact, etc.).

MG. I would recommend spending a lot of time on how to explain the research result. Some very good contributions remain get no notoriety due to a poor presentation. Correctness, clarity and motivation are crucial for the success of a paper.

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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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.

journals

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?

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.

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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Key factors when selecting a journal: poll results

reasons

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.

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?

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.

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?

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