Perspectives on Academic Publishing


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Perspectives on Academic Publishing

  1. 1. A game with unwritten rules:challenges & opportunities in academic publishing Chris Buddle McGill University
  3. 3. What is Academic Publishing?• Defined as the written word (and associated content: figures, tables, data, survey questions, related video or audio data), representing a deliverable / outcome from an Academic‟s research activities • On-line or print • Assumes the publisher is supported, recognized and reputable • Assumes some kind of peer-review process • Includes single- and multi-authored work, collaborative work, research with students
  4. 4. Why care about AcademicPublishing?• Publications remain a key metric by which University Academics are judged: • Tenure and promotion • Grant success• Publications lead to opportunities: • Attracting students • Initiating collaborations within and among institutions • New research directions• Publications are one form of outreach: • A deliverable from publically-funded research • Our institutions rely on publications for recruitment and for financial support• Publications form the basis of the research-teaching-nexus • Current results from research need to inform content in lectures
  6. 6. My list:• Lack of time to write and publish• Open access / Paywalls • costs to publish• Length of time for the process• Difficulty in getting work published • High rejection rates • Reviewer and Editor fatigue• Journal choice: • Too much choice! • Predatory publishers• Skill development (writing, formatting, etc)
  8. 8. Lack of time
  9. 9. Do an analysis of how YOU spend yourtime.
  10. 10. Strategies: make time to write• Schedule it! Block off periods of time for writing• Deadlines: set them, stick to them. • Use a laboratory discussion group, seminar class, journal club, or an undergraduate class as motivators for setting deadlines• Take a week-long writing „vacation‟ each year• Collaborate: use co-authorship as a strategy to write• Make it easier by practicing more often • Blogs, journals
  11. 11. Read about Productivity
  12. 12. Open Access• OA is important to many people, and a requirement for some research activities / countries (e.g., USA) • It is desirable to publish in OA journals!• OA journals, however, are not free• In many of the Sciences, if there are no costs (i.e., author pay, or subscriptions), be worried about quality and sustainability• The costs to publish can important in some disciplines• Advice: educate yourself on the issue, do what you can.
  13. 13. The length of the process….• Time from submission to acceptance can be unacceptably long, and this has serious implications• Why has it gotten so bad? • External factors: Reviewer fatigue, editor fatigue, backlog of papers for publishers, page limits for publisher, flood of papers from China, India, etc • Internal factors: Poor writing, wrong journal choice, lack of good reviewer suggestions, wrong choice of subject/associate editor
  14. 14. Strategies:• Do your research (journal choice, editor choice) • Have reasonable expectations• Make it easy for the editorial team • …list potential reviewers! • Graduate students as reviewers? • Write your work well, package your work well • For some publishing venues, a letter to the editor is important• Karma: be a good citizen, be a good collaborator, and network
  15. 15. High rejection rates / Major revisions• It is getting more difficult to publish work in high quality journals, despite the proliferation of journals!• Even „minor‟ revisions are often deemed „major‟• Editors are leaning towards rejection, seldom ask for minor revisions• “3rd reviewer” getting rare in some disciplines?• There is a great deal of editor / reviewer fatigue
  16. 16. What you can do:• Be persistent• Do not be shy about writing rebuttals • Be reasonable, compromising, but stick to your guns• Aim for the correct journal or publisher
  17. 17. Picking the right Journal / Publisher• Whether we like it or not: Tenure & Promotion committees and search committees often look to publishing metrics to assess quality of candidates• Journal choice becomes important in some disciplines: • Impact Factor • H-Factor
  18. 18. A proliferation of journals…
  19. 19. Other metrics?
  20. 20. Strategies• Do your research• Balance your publications between higher profile / higher impact publication venues and more discipline-specific publication venues• Make your case to a tenure / promotion committee • It is important and acceptable to publish in places that may be seen as „low impact‟ publications
  21. 21. …from my tenure dossier:• “I sometimes choose to publish in journals with a more regional or national focus, even though the impact factors may be lower. This is partly because the research may be more relevant to a narrow geographical area; I also believe strongly that regional journals have an important role to play in dissemination of research results to national or regional entomologists”
  22. 22. Predatory Publishers• Publish in reputable places, with good copy-editors / typesetters and in places that are supported, and indexed • Be wary of (some) OA journal • Be wary of predatory publishers • If something looks too good to be true, be worried.
  23. 23. Predatory Publishers:• Publish papers already published in other venues/outlets without providing appropriate credits• Use language claiming to be a “leading publisher” even though the publisher may only be a startup or a novice organization.• Operate in a Western country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country.• Do minimal or no copyediting.• Publish papers that are not academic• Obvious pseudo-science.• Have a “contact us” page that only includes a web form, and the publisher hides or does not reveal its location
  24. 24. Skill Development• Writing is a skill that must be practiced• Strategies: • Write regularly (every day?) • Blogs, journals, diaries, etc. • Read about writing
  25. 25. Study creative ways to present data:• E.g., Read Tufte‟s book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”
  27. 27. Open peer commentary• Consists of eliciting (and publishing) non-anonymous commentary on a peer-reviewed "target article" from a dozen or more specialists across disciplines, co- published with the authors response.
  28. 28. The value of plain-language summaries • Research becomes accessible to a range of audiences • High school students, journalists, colleagues, and more • Freely available • Develop (different) skills in writing • Makes University relevant to the general public • Recruitment of students, staff, donor relations
  29. 29. Self-publish? ….Blogs
  30. 30. Decisions about publishing• Sustainability • You want your work to be around in perpetuity• Are costs relevant to publishing in your discipline? • Open-access? • Library subscriptions?• Access • How important is OA to you, your co-authors, your institution, and those who financed your research?• Career stage • Tenure and promotion?• Type of research and results • Time sensitive? • Student research? • That old manuscript…