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.

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Academic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley

As university professor, with great pressure to publish in academic journals, I find academic generalist networks essential, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu or Mendeley, which help me to:

  • Disseminate on the web my published articles to try to obtain citations and name among the scientific community in my field of expertiseAcademic networks contest: ResearchGate vs. Academia vs. Mendeley
  • Find research papers quickly and easily
  • Search for collaboration and international research projects
  • Share ideas and find solutions

I wonder if you can do the same on Facebook or Linkedin. Facebook don’t clearly do it because it’s very focused on leisure and personal life but, what about Linkedin? With millions of professors and professionals connected interested in science/research?

But no, it seems that we need a specific one to ourselves that differentiate researchers, with specific functionalities on usability and sociability (mainly source credibility), two main factors for evaluating online communities (Chinthakalaya, 2013).

I don’t intend to make a thorough analysis of the technical and functional characteristics of these platforms, but rather from the point of view of the user or scientist, offer an outline of their main features, to make the most of our time and know what you can expect from each. And although this is a blog and not a scientific research project, I have also taken into account the views of other users in the academic networks, such as those expressed in ResearchGate in this forum.

Obviously, I have created profiles on all platforms, so one important point is that you are forced to be on all of them, but if not constantly updated (profile and papers), the effort will be useless.

ResearchGate

  • I’d highlight its:
    • Interactivity: Collaboration and discovery through its discussions/questions and publication repository,
    • Intelligence:  The statistics and the scoring about your work are a great invitation / encouragement to participate and interact, though its administrators are very aware of all that is posted in the network, manipulating content, as if we were small children.
    • And source credibility: only researchers are accepted, and they use it a lot because of the scoring mentioned above.
  • But ResearchGate still has to improve its repository: I find it difficult to upload all my publications, not just papers, and it sometimes doesn’t find the links to get data when uploading them.

Academia.edu

  •  Its strength point is the repository of publications: Allows you to post the link on your paper, so other researchers can download your papers directly from the original source (SSRN, RepEc, arXiv.org, CiteCeerX or SSOAR), which increase your score on these repositories, if that is important for anyone.
  • But I find it less democratic so at the end less interactive: It’s very restrictive when disclosing your ideas to exchange views with other researchers. For example Academia.edu has deleted almost all of my new discussions, and they even closed my first profile there and I had to open another, which gives me the creepy feeling of censorship and guarded by a big brother with the excuse of spam.

Mendeley

  • It works more as a reference management system (organize and search bibliographies, add papers from the web to your library, etc.) with both online and desktop versions, sometimes difficult to understand. So it isn’t an academic network, but it has “a social network integrated”, which can give you an idea of its limited social and sharing capabilities.
  • It also has strong corporate and lucrative connotations: Mendeley was acquired in 2013 by Elsevier, the publishing house; yes, the one that is requesting scientific social-networking sites and authors to remove the papers posted online without their permission.

In conclusion, ResearchGate and Academia.edu are very similar social networks for scientists, each with their particular strengths/software, but I foresee a better future for ResearchGate because of its commitment to sociability, though not as much as Linkedin, my favorite generalist academic network.

Too bad they aren’t specialized in socializing the process of publishing in scholarly journals, both to editors and authors.

 

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.

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?

Cops’ and Profs’ professional careers: more alike than you think

With this post I risk that you tend to believe that I’ve gone completely mad, if you don’t already think so, but I see an interesting parallelism between the careers of university professors and that of police inspectors, that can enrich us all. I’ve managed to unite it conceptually because I wanted to be a police inspector during my college years, and my teenage son is considering it now.

Cops' and Profs' professional careers: more alike than you think

1. We are talking here about vocational public service professions.

2. You can make a career in the private sector, but these higher education and security services are mainly provided by the government.

3. The academic career has four general professional phases (there could be some differences in some countries), as the high level career ranks in the police:

  • Assistant Professor Vs Police Inspector: newly qualified, with no professional experience.
  • Lecturer Vs Chief Inspector: with at least 6 years of professional career.
  • Senior Lecturer Vs Commissioner/Superintendent: around 15 year career.
  • Full Professor Vs Chief Commissioner/Superintendent: If you’re show endurance and excellence during 10 more years.

4. To access these professions a particular training and studies are required:

  • Professors have to obtain a doctorate in their specialty, with a college degree.
  • Policemen have to pass a training course of one/two years, with the requirement of a university degree (or a minimum of credits), at least in Europe.

5. In both professions are required to perform a research activity to achieve results and progress in your profession.

Obviously, the amusing issue is the similarities between these two professions, but they also have many differences of course, which can help us to approach our educational careers in another perspective.

However, I am not so sure whether the police profession is so demanding and multidisciplinary as in higher education as we have to teach, research, and / or publish in academic journals, although the police one is supplemented, as far as I know, with the daily risks they face. So maybe being a cop, PhD and a part-time lecturer of law and criminology is a good choice of life, which is what I recommend to my son without any hope of being heard, of course.

POLL: Scientists, web tools and social networks

Scientists,  web tools and social networksInternet is assumed to help university professors and scientists, but there are so many web tools and social networks that often turn against researchers and academics, overwhelming them and eventually making them to use partially only a couple of them.

If we dig a little deeper, we see that for each stage of the research process there are specific tools. It is true that many of them try to cover all the processes, but in the end have only an advantage in just one activity in particular, which makes us perceive that these tools are duplicated for the same functions, or solve the same problem for scientists; and because the research process is complex and varied in itself, as you can see in the high-level scheme that I usually use:

  1. Research project definition, funding and collaboration
  2. Research activity
  3. Write the paper and publish in journals
  4. Share your publications

So I’m interested in what Internet academic tools and social networks you are using in the production process of your research and when publishing them in academic journals; it’ll be worth to learn and continue update our management and organizational research skills.

And get ready because they are quite a few, and I’ve only listed the most important ones…

* It can be chosen several answers

**Comments are highly encouraged

How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum Vitae

Having research published in journals is not easy, especially if they are indexed in relevant data bases or with impact factor; so if we have a few, we’d better highlight them in the Curriculum Vitae.

How to highlight your relevant publications in your Curriculum VitaeI’ve often found that the ones who review our Curriculums at universities have a limited knowledge about citations, indexed journals or impact factor, but instead our published articles are usually an important part to be considered when applying to an academic job vacancy. So you have to make your relevant publications easy to read for them.

To do it you just need to add to the publications the most relevant indexes or databases in their field of specialty, or best known, where the journals are listed: the two or three of each publication, not to overwhelm with information. Often the education ministry itself gives the criterion of the most important journal indexes for each field of specialty, among which usually always is mentioned ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters).

If you also worked hard and published in a high impact factor journal, you should also indicate it. As well as if their impact factor is in quartile 1 and 2, indicating both quartile and its position in the ranking of their field of knowledge.

For example, I’d introduce my last publication in the Curriculum Vitae as follows:

  • Hernandez Barros, R. and López Domínguez, I. (2013): “Integration Strategies for the Success of Mergers and Acquisitions in Financial Services Companies”, Journal of Business Economics and Management, Vol. 14 (5,), pp. 979-992. Journal indexed in ‘Journal Citation Reports’ (Thomson Reuters), Impact Factor (2012): 1,881 (Position 55/333 in ‘Economics’, Q1).

But for other indexed publications without impact factor, it would be something like:

  • Martínez Torre-Enciso, M.I. and Hernandez Barros, R. (2013). Operational risk management for insurers. International Business Research, Vol. 6 (1), 1-11. Journal indexed in: EconLit (EBSCO), DOAJ.

Moreover, different article categories can be used when listing our publications; for example, as is usually listed in many websites departments and universities:

  1. Articles in indexed journals
  2. Articles in other journals (refereed)
  3. Other articles, working papers, chapters, technical notes, …

Obviously there are more ways to do it, but this works, though it cost me some time to have it clear, so I share it with you.

Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n’ Roll

The poll results changed my schemes (or rather, my expectations) a little bit; but I don’t know why it surprises me, because academics always answer our polls in a fair and sensible way, as you can see below. The question was What kind of conferences are you attending?

One of the comments was very graphic and explanatory: A professor assists to academic conferences to learn about the latest research in the field (updating), to test his research with his peers and meet scientists for future collaboration (networking), all in a high level university environment in another country that allowed him to get away from the pressure of everyday life (Rock n’ Roll), and even do some tourism in the free time.

Academic Conferences: Updating, Networking and Rock n' Roll

My appreciation was that the current web 2.0 approach towards scientific conferences were also changing, particularly the issue of networking (with social communities), and because of traveling (it seems to me a bit cumbersome and costly, not always funding is provided). But of course, if you take it as a milestone once or every two years, as described before, things change significantly, and I’ll have to restate my relationship with conferences again.

Regarding the poll itself, my general conclusions and ideas are the following ones:

  1. Quality of the conference (52%) is important for respondents, which has much sense to meet peers for future collaborations and for testing our research.
  2. Around 15% of respondents believe that any kind of conference their field of knowledge is acceptable, I guess to meet the expectations of improvement and maintaining of curriculum, which is very legitimate.
  3. Have the paper published in the proceeding or journal is not the main objective when going to a conference (22%). This is the most interesting finding: for me assisting to conferences is a necessary part of the process of disseminating research, but is considered as two different things; I’ll have to investigate further about it.
  4. In order to reduce costs, I suggested assisting to conferences organized around the home city and even virtual ones (11%), but they obtained poor results, perhaps because funds are usually provided by universities.

So, have you chosen the conferences where you’re planning to attend in 2014? At Gaudeamus you can find a few from different organizers, fields of knowledge and countries, if you need some Rock n’ Roll, of course.

What kind of conferences are you attending? Poll results

  • Only to international conferences, 18.72%
  • Depending on the scientists / professors attending (for networking), 17.45%
  • Only those organized by universities or institutions that I trust, 15.74%
  • Any kind of conference my field of knowledge is acceptable, 14.89%
  • Only if the paper presented is published in the proceedings, 12.34%
  • Only if the paper presented is eligible to be published in indexed journals, 9.79%
  • Those organize in my city / my country, funding is not always available, 5.96%
  • I attend (or planning to attend) virtually, if possible, it’s a new interesting trend, 5.11%

* The poll was posted in November 2013 in many academic discussion groups. Around 950 answers were collected.

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