Monday, 13 August 2012

The publication strategy dilema

With the rise of open-access, rapidly publishing online journals academics publication strategy is becoming even more important.  These new journals do not necessarily have an impact factor but may well lead to high citations for individual articles given their more easily accessible nature.  The dilemma of where to publish to advance your academic career has never been greater.  This is well summarized in a recent article and subsequent reviews on F1000.

On plummeting manuscript acceptance rates by the main ecological journals and the progress of ecology.
Wardle DA.Ideas Ecol Evol. 2012 May 29; 5:13-5

Reviews on F1000:
Hector A: 2012.
Norton D: 2012. 

I particularly like the questions raised in the reviews as they are pertinent to my own publication dilemmas, where as an early career researcher I'm aware that I'm likely to be judged not only on the number of papers but also the impact factor or rank of the journal I publish in. 
  • Is high selectivity (and rejection rates) at journals the best system for advancing science?
  • Should a paper be judged by the journal it is in or would article-level metrics do a better job? 
  • Do we need journals any more or would we be better with a repository in the Cloud? 
  • Should all publicly-funded research be open access (as is increasingly the case in medicine)? 
  • Are new initiatives, such as PLoS, Frontiers, eLife, and Faculty of 1000's new publishing initiative F1000 Research, the way forward? 
  • Should academics in the 'more mature' stages of their careers, and for whom promotion is less of an issue, endeavor to publish research through these new publishing initiatives to counter the institutionalized emphasis on impact factor?
  • why are we so focused on quantity and what happened to the in-depth research projects or reviews of key issues that used to be published?
I also appreciate David Norton's comment about the value of books, particularly as I have recently published a couple of book chapters and have the opportunity for more - but they tend to be viewed as somehow less worthy than papers:

"I was concerned recently to hear a colleague say that a book was less important than a traditional published paper in terms of research quality – but a book might reflect the results of many years work and provide a synthesis of a considerable body of research, including much reflection; surely this is of more value to ecology than simply publishing the latest bit of data that reaches publishable size that can squeezed out of an experiment or field trial?"

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