Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-index

Although the h-index is well known, I didn’t know that it may have some value, but it does! Such as a minimum requirement for certain academic positions; something that I had never seen before, and I have reviewed many academic job posts for years on the internet from all universities in the world!

Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-indexTo illustrate it, I’ve recently received the following academic job offer:

  • From the Department of International Relations we share with you this call for professors of sociology, economics and history interested in pursuing an academic stay at Saint Petersburg State Polytechinical University (Russian Federation). Candidates should have at least 2 points in the Hirsch index”.

H-index is, for a given researcher, the number h of publications that are cited at least h times each in academic journals. For example, my h-index is 2 (Finance) because I have 2 papers cited 2 or more times each; the rest of my publications have only 1 (or none) citation each. And to get a 3 h-index, these other papers would have to be cited at least twice, and that would mean 3 articles cited at least 3 times each.

But this so convoluted thing seems to work, at least within the same field of knowledge. So the pirates that wrote the announcement knew what they were doing, and thus I guess they avoid reviewing and/or analyzing (with love and care) a lot of requests, such as those who do not understand the h-index, those do not maintain it, or those without citations, among others. Why wasting time browsing hundreds of academic curriculums when they have the miraculous h-index?

Moving forward, Google Scholar calculates your h-index, though you can also obtain it your course, but you have to document and demonstrate it indicating journals, dates, articles, authors, etc.. The weak point is that Google Scholar considers also self-citations (should they be included for the h-index?), and citations from not indexed journals, books, and other publications. But it’s what we have.

Therefore, apart from the overwhelming logic of using the h-index to select researchers, don’t you think it is outrageously absurd? You can imagine what may be the environment/working pressure on a place that calls for the h-index to their professors/researchers … but it’s up to you and your needs.

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The seven habits of highly effective researchers (for publishing in journals)

The seven habits of highly effective researchers I wished I had written this book by Stephen Covey that I’m now paraphrasing, but you know my limitations, I’ll have to put up with using some others ideas. Though this time I’ve got something pretty amusing, I think: a different approach to the hard work of publishing in academic journals, on how to being highly effective by aligning to the following simple principles:

ENDURANCE

1. Just do it

Be proactive with your research and papers,take the lead if possible of the research projects you’re involved, and especially of the manuscripts. If you have a PhD, you are able to lead it (at your level). If you trust your publications in others, they never will do well, there will always be excuses. Take the helm or your papers never will be published.

2. Be unreasonably aspirational

Set the type of journals that you want/need to publish in and go for them. Know your limitations and plan where you want to get. Look what journals are looking for, what kind of research is needed, who their editors are, etc.

3. Cultivate your publishing pipeline

The important thing is doing good research (data driven), but don’t forget the publishing pipeline, as you need to have projects and manuscripts at all stages of the process: researching, writing, and publishing in journals.

4. Be patient, be changing

This is the most difficult/soft habit, you have no choice but to live with the timing of publication of papers and with your other academic obligations. Take a look back and see what you’ve got, keep it or start changing it if you don’t like it, coming out smoothly of your comfort area.

NETWORKING

5. Put your peers and editors first

On your own you are going nowhere in this publishing game. Don’t be selfish, in spite of habit 1. Give more of what you get, don’t do balance of who wins if you win something by publishing. Collaborate with other researchers, try to understand managing editors, help them being peer-reviewer or editor yourself.

6. Follow the academic networks

Get out there, expose yourself to the world, and let others know your work and publications. Think also in the transfer of knowledge and build your personal brand. Force yourself to use the academic networks participating in discussions of your field of knowledge, writing blogs, or using the internet tools for researchers. Even if you think it’s worthless, it’ll improve your skills and brand in the medium term.

RESULTS

7. Be obsessed with the student

You’re primarily a professor/educator, don’t forget it, don’t forget the classroom.  Research and publications aren’t everything. This is a struggle to find the balance between education, research and transfer of results that will make you even a better teacher.

 

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?

The xenophobic Europe emerged from elections, is it so also on scholarly publishing?According to the discussions opened on various forums about whether academic journals are racist when it comes to accept and publish articles from foreign autors (Do you think that journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published?), I found a general feeling, by authors from countries outside Europe and USA, that there is some discrimination from these two geographical areas, because Journals don’t trust either the quality of their research, their universities of affiliation, or their English writing.

Instead, the result of the poll has shown the opposite of what I expected for these comments in social networks just mentioned:

  • 56% – Yes, journals are fair when evaluating the manuscripts to be published
  • 44% – No, they are not

But the recent European election on May 24th, 2014, in which there has been clear progress by xenophobic parties, has made me to rethink the issue: It’s just a feeling on the part of the authors to justify the rejection of scientific articles in journals? Or is there something that we can do from Europe and USA to improve scholarly publishing and that perception?

Although this survey is part of a blog, and was not intended to be the basis of an academic research, but only investigate the feeling I had, collected on the Internet; now I think there is room for a good project on the causes of discrimination in the publication of articles by authors from non-Western countries, and what kind of corporate governance policies could be implemented in scientific journals to prevent this unfortunate perception of rejection to foreign research (racism).

Many of you’ll think: “The only thing that was missing in academia: policies for journals of affirmative action for authors (and not why for women) from countries outside of Europe and USA.” It’s all for the good of fair play, the development of research and its dissemination.

 

* The poll was posted in April and May 2014 in many academic discussion groups. Around 450 answers were collected.

What are scholarly journals doing to attract authors and papers?

What are scholarly journals doing to attract authors and papersBasically what scholarly journals do to maximize exposure and find content (authors and papers) is indexing them in data bases and directories, whether they are recognized journals, or new and open access.

  • The difference will be on the relevance of the database, because if they are indexed in Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters) they have already virtually assured a minimum content, but they should continue fighting for the journal quality and improvement in the medium term.
  • For maximizing exposure of your open access journals I’ve found the following less common abstracting and indexing services that they may be of interest: Google Scholar, Ulrich’s Web, JURN, CrossRef, Open J-gate, or ticTocs Journal Table of Contents, among many hundreds others.

For the better or worse this is so because it’s what authors are seeking; for example my journal search process is as follows:

  1. As I look for the best journal for my manuscript, I seek first those who publish articles similar to mine, and I get them mainly from the literature review.
  2. I usually also save the e-mails from the editors that have directly approached me to publish in their journals, so I have a look at them.
  3. After that I review the ones within the first quartile at Journal Citation Reports impact factor ranking.
  4. And finally, I try to find a common ground with their editors or someone who knows their editorial policy and can give me feedback about them, what articles are looking for or even if my paper could fit there.

At a second level, although it’s also important, is to create a database of authors, scientists and professors of the journal specialty field, either searching directly for them when they publish in other journals, or using their database of subscribers/readers.

Finally there is the Internet and social networks, creating their own pages for being followed by scientists, but I think it is still to be developed. Some journals make their call for papers in their own portals and even in specialized websites; undoubtedly it’ll be part of the future.

  • And how about the idea of ​​an academic network for publishing in journals? Where authors and editors could interact and publish their articles, such as Gaudeamus?

So, in short, to find authors and content journals should be well indexed in quality directories and work the social networks for potential new authors. After that it would only remain selecting the right papers among dozens, making use of the more or less automatized internal processes, particularly peer-review. Almost nothing!

 

PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional career

PhD at maturity: Starting a consulting and teaching activity to prolong professional careerAs I’m growing older, also do it my friends and contacts, so I’m experiencing, in particular after the occurrence of the last financial crisis, that professional careers start ending at a certain age (around 55?), and we should find alternative activities to prolong career (and income) until at least you turn 70.

And one of the most logical alternatives is to use your own long professional experience, that is, start consulting, activity that is linked to knowledge and personal branding, which fit perfectly well within an academic career: PhD, teaching, researching, publishing in scientific journals and networking.

But it’s clear that the transition is not done overnight and have to be planned in advance, at least 5 years. I did it more than 10 years ago: I wanted to be a university professor and now I’m delighted with my vocation, although it’s much more demanding than I thought at first.

On the other hand, it’s also true that you can be a good professor without a PhD, but I don’t recommend it because it makes no sense and has no future, as a doctorate degree gives you the basic skills a researcher needs, puts you as an equal with other academics, and when opting for an adjunct or lecturer job you will have more merits than the others, having into account that for a full-time position a PhD is a must.

Furthermore, in Spain at least, most private universities cover their adjunct/lecturer positions with successful working professionals without teaching or researching experience, but increasingly they are raising the requirements. Lately, for example, ICADE Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, a small business university in Madrid, were asking the following requirements (minimum and valuable ones) for an adjunct (part time) position:

  1. PhD
  2. Accredited as a university professor
  3. Publications in international academic journals
  4. Extensive professional and teaching experience
  5. And ability to teach in English

Honestly, how many professionals are there with that CV in Spain or even Europe? But you may develop it, of course, I’m of the idea that everything can be achieved with time and effort. So, go for it!

Journal Citation Reports: Sources of its power in scholarly publishing

Journal Citation Reports: Sources of its power in scholarly publishingWhy Journal Citation Reports (Thomson Reuters) has much influence in the academic publishing world? So much that it’s almost the only directory that is taken into account to evaluate the quality excellence of research or publications, except for a few fields of knowledge such as engineering, as far as I know.

And I find the sources of its power in its way to compete in the scholarly publishing market, and in quality of its service/product:

1. There is a clear need for directories and rankings of journals that provide us professors and scientists information about the relevance of publishing here our research, and Journal Citation Reports  (JCR) does it better than others.

  • JCR not only gives information about the influence and impact of scholarly research journals, but does so in an objective manner with citation data at subject category levels; although with its obvious limitations (most of their journals are in English and from Anglo-Saxon countries; citations are obtained only from its own indexed journals; and so on) as any other model or system.
  • Its star metric, Impact Factor, is a staple in the market, which now begins to be copied by other directories that nobody trust.
  • It gives us the information annually in a systematic manner. Other assessments by industry associations or institutions are made periodically, such as for example the prestigious Academic Journal Quality Guide Version 4 (The Association of Business Schools), but dates back to 2010.
  • Its access and use of the index is easy and online. I do it through my University portal, from home or where I need it.

2. Rigorous selection process of the journals listed in JCR

  • Journals are only accepted in the directory if they meet minimum quality standards, such as blind peer-review of manuscripts, an international editorial board, or a few years publishing volumes/issues without interruption, among others. This is in theory, because that sounds like a system of quality assurance, a kind of ISO accreditation.

3. Business model and the way to compete in the market

  • Although JCR belongs to a private company, which is logical because a public one won’t do it, it’s not edited by a publishing house, such as in the case of Scopus (Elsevier), but by an information and data company (Thomson Reuters), which makes JCR independent to some extent from the journals that it lists.
  • Most of its clients are organizations (universities, libraries and research centers), I guess, which give JCR a quick access to those scientific communities.
  • JCR does not compete on its own, the group Thomson Reuters provides many more services to scientists and academic institutions.

JCR has also been subject of much criticism, being its power the most important one. Proof of this are the popular initiatives that are being created around it, as repositories of articles or the Open Access movement. For example, it annoys me greatly that there is much pressure to publish not only in JCR listed journals, but that is required to do so in the first 2 quartiles of its impact factor ranking. I guess this is not an issue of JCR, but of ourselves scientists and scholars, and especially of the journals indexed there, who are literally besieged by authors and their papers.

Regardless whether good or bad that much power and influence to a single private company in the market for innovative ideas, JCR provides great value that can go also in favor of increasing the competition between scientists and so improving the quality of their research, but many think that it goes against the advancement of knowledge in general, do not you think?

Scientists love and hate academic web tools

The survey on which web tools scientists use for their research activity and its dissemination shows a very clear results: professors and researchers use web mainly tools for the analysis process (48%), and it couldn’t be otherwise. And then use dissemination tools (27%) such as social media platforms and repositories because of the increasing pressure of getting citations for their publications.

Scientists love and hate academic web tools

Which web tools do you use (or are necessary) for your research activity and its dissemination?

It’s striking that individually the type of web tools most used are directories of journals (take that!), which is a pretty clear indication of the concern of scientists for publishing in well indexed or listed journals. The problem is that there are hundreds of directories and databases, almost one for each country and area of ​​knowledge.

  • Good news, because sometimes I wonder if it makes sense a social network such us Gaudeamus, complementary to journal directories, which helps academics to network with journal editors and to share information and problems with other scientists when publishing their research …

But back to the poll, sometimes it’s not clear which specific use make researchers of some of the web tools and to what stage of the research process correspond:

  1. For example, the academic social websites, such as Researchgate or MyScienceWork, though are primarily used to share publications, they are also helpful in part to find collaborators and peers, at least in theory.
  2. Or citations and metrics and tools, because I use them just to see how my publications go shared, but they also serve to find references, specifically Google Scholar, usefull at different stages of the research process.

On the other hand, it is also worth noting that there are many tools for the research activity, we could see in the Graph that they are widely dispersed, and that it’s required a particular tool for each specific activity: to search information, share and organize documents, analyze data or then present the results.

In short, though scientists love academic web tools, it seems to me that they also represent the new slavery for scientific research, the typical love-hate relationship, don’t you think?

* The poll was posted in February 2014 in many academic discussion groups. Around 900 answers were collected.

The Craft of Research. Book Review

The Craft of Research. Book ReviewI wanted to read further about research methodology, data collection, and on hypotheses and interpreting the data, and I found this book (‘The Craft of Research’): the title was suggestive, the description of the book looked ok, as its price as e-book, it also seems that it was selling well and the reviews were not bad, so I decided to try.

The truth is that I was hoping to find information about the process of conducting academic research, more than tips on writing the research draft or paper, so in part I was a little disappointed, but ok, it happens sometimes.

  1. Although the objectives of the book were ‘doing and reporting research’, I’m afraid is more focused on reporting and writing the draft.
  2. But even for this, writing the draft, I found it somehow weak, or at least like any the other books on the subject, such as ‘The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success’ or ‘How to get research published in journals’.
  3. I’ve also seen it too focused on unexperienced researchers, who would appreciate anything more or less elaborated and well-written to reflect on the subject and start developing their writing skills.

But instead, there are parts of the book that indeed are interesting and noteworthy, which are what I look for sometimes: some specific ideas about writing a paper, abstract, literature review, or even to disseminate it.

  • For example, it’s well exposed for the search of the bibliography, in case anyone needs some methodological basis to help selecting the literature, which I have not seen in any other book so far. I have to admit that I appreciate it because my approach is more intuitive, based on Google Scholar, the library of my Faculty, and then pulling out of references and books on the topic I’m researching.

I also have a bitter aftertaste after reading it because, for a simple European professor I found some parts of the book too Anglo and certainly convoluted: those that relate reasons with evidences, arguments, claim evaluation and warrants, one with some of the others and then all together, I’m sorry.

Publishing research in non-indexed journals

Publishing research in non-indexed journalsI wonder if publishing research in non-indexed journals makes sense, for there are proliferating lately scientific journals not indexed in any database or directory, and I guess that what lies behind are the following reasons:

  1. The scholarly publishing system is in process of change and evolution to a new model based in Internet and open access.
  2. Because of the current ease to set up an academic journal on the Internet, given the available of platforms such as Open Journal Systems (Public Knowledge Project), which already come prepared with the submission and peer-review process, archive of volumes, pipeline publication management, guidelines, etc..
  3. Now it’s possible accessing to researchers in the social networks for content in the chosen field of expertise, and for responsive peer-reviewers.
  4. The obligation and desperately need to publish for professors worldwide are growing.
  5. There is an (hypothetical) opportunity to earn some money.

But mostly I wonder why scientists may be interested in publishing their papers in journals without indexation, and by extension in academic journals that don’t have a good reader base, renowned quality processes, or a website well designed on academic SEO as for papers to be found at search engines like Google.

I can just explain publishing there as a favor to the journal editor, or if the manuscripts that we want to publish are based on not publishable research in other journals, always on the condition that they will be published in open access and that the editing time is simple and fast. But for that matter, wouldn’t it be better to publish a PDF and upload them in repositories such SSRN? I guess that those articles wouldn’t look good in the curriculum without the tagline ‘International Journal’ following the article…

The positive thing is that sure some of these journals will do well and survive, and even go indexing in relevant directories such as Scopus (Elsevier), Ebsco, DOAJ, or even ISI Web of Knowledge / Web of Science (Thomson Reuters).

What do you think?? Would you publish your research in non- indexed journals?

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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