The Knowledge Web: Illuminating Your Research

The scope of research is beyond measure and cannot be structured or contained in a single research guide for which knowledge web is need of the hour. Considering the vast well of information, researchers often face problems in zeroing-in on articles that are most suited for their research area. They often take recourse to the World Wide Web in their quest for articles of interest. In this process, researchers use the web crawlers of their favorite search engines. This generates hundreds of sites that store information on the topic of interest. Usually, the first few search results show articles that are cited repeatedly and are the most relevant references for the research. This leads researchers to the important journals and authors related to the field of interest and helps them adopt strategies accordingly.

Although the search results are displayed within few seconds, the researcher needs to devote considerable time in building a mental model of a research field and giving the most apt query for the search engine to return the best and most relevant results. Therefore, a mechanical search on the Web will be grossly insufficient. Instead, the researcher needs to conduct a search for material other than that found on the Web, and must follow up with a wide reading on the subject. That will help the researcher identify the precise data or information require from the search engine. Even after thorough scrutiny of the material, there is a high risk of information masking that could lead to missing out on an important piece of work.

The best way to obtain an overview of a research field is to conduct knowledge domain visualizations. This process expands the ability of researchers to recognize and analyze a knowledge area through several quantitative and qualitative methods. They are able to use tools such as visual analytics and information visualization to analyze data, retrieve information, and mine text from available sources. This process will answer most of their research queries and help avoid repeated searches on the Internet.

Knowledge domain visualizations save valuable time of the researcher in searching, indexing, and structuring data. Knowledge domain visualizations are not only beneficial for individual researchers or a single subject, but also provide a platform for accessing specific publications. It even provides a quick overview of a research field.

In searching for research material on the Web, the automated or mechanical procedure falls woefully sort. On the other hand, manual interventions can improve results significantly and lead to a more substantial research output.

Retraction of Publications

Your published articles give you recognition as a writer and boost your academic credentials. However, there are special circumstances when an article might be withdrawn or cancelled even after its publication. This process is called retraction of publications.

Research articles go through a review process prior to publication. However, there are occasions when major errors are detected in a research paper after it is published. In such circumstances, the journal is forced to issue a retraction notice to withdraw the publication. Retraction enables journals to alert or inform readers about the errors in the findings or conclusions of the paper. Some journals, however, retract papers without citing specific reasons because they fear a loss of credibility in the journal. In recent months, there is a discernible increase in the retraction rate in the publication industry.

According to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), publications can be retracted by journal editors if:

  • They have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g., data fabrication) or honest error (e.g., miscalculation or experimental error).
  • The findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper cross-referencing, permission or justification (i.e., cases of redundant publication).
  • It constitutes plagiarism.
  • It reports unethical research.

Even though retraction of a publication is the decision of the journal’s editor, sometimes the author of the paper may also be asked by the editor to formally issue the retraction. In some journals, both the editor and the author issue the retraction notice. Nevertheless, the journal’s editor can retract the published paper unilaterally in case the author refuses to do so.

The retraction notice should cite the reasons for the retraction and clarify whether the retraction is for misconduct or for honest and genuine mistakes. The notice also needs to mention whether the publication is being retracted by the editor or the author. Retracted publications should not be removed either from online or printed copies of the journal; instead, the status of the retraction should be clearly indicated in the publication.

Retraction of publications is likely to have an adverse impact on the credentials of both the author and the journal. Therefore, it is important to take precautionary measures to avoid such a scenario.

Japan’s Contribution to World Research

Since the 1980s, Japan has emerged at the forefront of research in several fields and has made path-breaking contributions in the global arena. This is the outcome of significant investment in R&D activities and the centers of excellence in the form of more than 30 leading universities. In fact, together with the U.S. and Europe, Japan ranks among the topmost countries as a proven leader in the global effort toward research and development.

International recognition of Japan’s contribution to World Research

Expectedly, Thomson Scientific, a leading provider of information solutions, has repeatedly recognized Japan’s ongoing impact on global research through the years. In 2007, 17 leading Japanese scientists were honored with the Thomson Research Front Award. The selection was made on the basis of an analysis of communication among scientists and the fact that the Japanese scientists published research papers that were among the most highly cited papers around the world.

More recently, in December 2012, Japanese organizations dominated the Top 100 Global Innovators list announced by the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading featured provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. While the U.S. led globally with 47 organizations in the list, there were 25 Japanese organizations out of a total of 32 organizations from Asia. Such recognition shows that Japanese researchers and innovators are at the forefront of global research.

While Japan’s excellence in electronics is a well-established fact, researchers in Japan have a proven track record in the fields of medicine and science, as evident in the long list of Nobel laureates from Japan.

Japan has particularly excelled in medical research in the streams of nuclear medicine, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and rheumatology. A database analysis of research papers in nuclear medicine published in reputed research journals during the 1990s shows that Japanese researchers contributed more than 11% of the total papers and rank second behind the U.S.

It might be logical to assume that the excellence of medical research in Japan is a direct result of the increasing investment by both public and private sectors in the field of biomedical R&D. Not surprisingly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 2, 2014, reveals that such investment from the private sector surged from $20.9 billion in 2007 to $27.6 billion in 2012. At the macro level, Japan’s total spending on medical research increased by $9 billion and accounted for 13.8% of the world’s total research spending. To put things in perspective, the study emphasizes that the U.S. had a reduced spending on medical research over the same period.

Japan’s capacity to innovate, coupled with researchers par excellence, can surely lead the country to scale newer heights in research and to continue its contribution to the global research pool.