How to understand the quality of a journal article?

If you are an author with experience of publishing articles or are fairly new, you have to decide and determine whether or not your article has the top-notch quality or not. In the theoretical framework of your thesis, you support your research work with something called a literature review. In this case, you look at the research that is done on a similar subject as yours, before you have published.

Why is the quality of an article so important?

As you may know, there are hundreds of articles published by journals, the editors at the journal are extremely busy people and they might just spot one little mistake and discard your hard work or ask you to redo some parts of it. Pre determining the quality of work is crucial if you want to save time, money and resources.

Following are some points that will help you get a hold of this:

  1. Where are the articles being published?

It is important to know in which journal the article has been published. There are many journals out there that will promise you exposure to the community and what not but only a few of them have the reputation that you really want. It might be difficult for you get through some of the big names in the publishing business but doing your bid of research can help you identify the next best journal suited to your needs. Also always look out of indexed journals.

  1. What is the date of the article that is published?

As you may already know that more importance is given to the recent and more updated pieces of research papers or articles. This is not to discourage that your work is any less than other or the fact that a new work is superior but that is a common overview of the industry.

  1. Have you come across other opinions on the article?

What are other researchers saying about the particular paper? People who are writing them are they credible? These are some of the important questions you need to ask while you choose an article to do your work on. Opinions or reviews of the article will also save you a lot of time that you could utilize on your own article.

  1. Dig a little deeper

A paper that is published in a reputed journal will definitely have relevant citations to substantiate their study. If the article you followed does not help you the way you wanted it to, you may find your calling with the papers and articles that are cited in the first work you followed.

  1. Let’s score it

Using the above-mentioned parameters, you may now score the paper. You may do it on a piece of paper, use a white board or just remember it—whatever floats your boat. You should always spend more time on understanding the quality of the journal before you apply it to your work. How does this help?  Scoring is just a way to understand the paper you are interested in. the only thing that matters with doing this exercise is to understand if an article is worth your time and energy.

Making a Firm Decision: “Traditional vs. Open Access Journals”

We all know that making good choices in terms of academics and scientific career is the key to success. Research writing and publications compliment the career of a scientist or an academician. Moreover, publications in reputed (high impact factor) and peer-reviewed journals produces global recognition to their contribution towards the scientific community.

Selecting an appropriate journal to publish your invaluable contribution is the major step in disseminating your research findings. The research ought to be published in the right journal for reaching the target audience with desired impact. However, many researchers struggle to make the right choice while selecting a journal as they get confused between Open access and Traditional Journals. The decision also becomes difficult while considering the journal’s performance (range and impact on audience), cost of publication (Submission charges and Article processing charges) and duration of publication process.

Traditional Journal vs. Open Access Journals: Based on the different factors

Traditional Journals

Traditional journals are those which generally do not levy any fee on authors or contributors for scientific publication. These journals are funded by subscriptions and advertisements and hence, the readers are charged for accessing or downloading any content in the journal.

The comparison between the traditional and open access journals suggests that the traditional journals possess higher reputation as they are not new to the experts in the field and association with reputed institutions and medical centres. However, higher reputation does not mean that it will reach broader audience. Because of high subscription charges for the readers, the content remains exclusive for specific mass and this is also the reason for not receiving desired number of citations after the introduction of Open Access journals.

The traditional journal charges per page for the printed versions which may vary based on the number of colour figures. However, for read only service the readers need to subscribe to the journal with subscription charges ranging from $100 per individual to $50,000 for institutions.

The traditional journal generally takes around 4-6 months for the quality checking and peer review process. The delay in the process is because of the number of articles received and their pending physical printings and distributions.

Open Access

“Open Access” is the idea and practice that created a movement which enabled the journals to provide complete barrier-free and cost-free access to the readers. Providing free access means that the readers can read, download, copy (with prior acknowledgement), share and print the online information available in form of articles.

Based on the different factors for making the appropriate choice, open access is changing the landscape of the research industry and has returned scholarly publishing to its original purpose of “spreading knowledge without any barrier”.

Publishing in open access journals provides greater visibility as it reaches broader audience without any fee. However, as no publication is without any fee, the author is responsible to pay the Submission charges and Article processing charges. Generally, the fees range between $50-$5000 based on the impact and reputation of the journals.

Most of the researchers opt for open access as they may not be popular in their field as, open access circulates the articles to a wider audience using different platforms to reach different researchers in the field worldwide. That is why, most of the traditional journals have now adopted the “Open Access Policy” either completely (full open access) or partially (hybrid open access).

Scientific publication represents the reputation of the researcher and hence the faster you publish the greater is the competitive edge they receive over other competitors. Most importantly, the researcher who gets published first receives the credit for the idea and the manuscript. Open access journals significantly reduce the time of publication with rapid peer review process. However, some researchers doubt the quality of the process and also consider this process as fake.

Role of ManuscriptEdit in helping you to make the correct choice

You might have now understood the pros and cons of each type of journals, but you still might not be completely sure about your choice.

The selection of the journal (whether open access or traditional) should be based on one’s requirement and hence, ManuscriptEdit provides a “Journal Selection Report” service which is prepared by considering the quality, scope and novelty of the manuscript. However, the author can also share their recommendations on the basis of different criteria such as the impact factor, reputation, indexing and cost which needs to be covered. We understand the effort that has been put to produce a quality research paper and hence, we guide the authors to make the right selection for getting the article published in desired journal.

How to publish your paper in a journal

As academicians, we strive for high-quality research that will advance science. As we write up our findings, we aim to present our hypothetical approach and applied consequences via our paper. Then we submit our paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Yes, this is the toughest part of the research. The job of writing a scientific research paper is quite competitive; there could be several reasons behind a rejection. Hence it’s important to understand the vital element of publication before journal submission.

The output of such efforts can be maximized by adhering to the following guidelines:

1. Have a specific target journal in mind

When you start writing about your study, it is wise to keep a specific target journal in mind. Search for journals that you think will be suitable for publishing your paper.  After identifying a journal, you must organize your paper as per the journal guidelines to decrease the chances of rejection.

2. Start your paper early in your research phase

You need to start writing from the early stages of your research or doctoral study. A proactive outlook will decrease the chance of rejection. Re-reading is needed in the research arena because it helps identify the most common flaws in the manuscript, which might otherwise be overlooked. It is also advisable to share your manuscripts with colleagues or other researchers to request their feedback, thus avoiding many errors.

3. Organize your paper as per the journal guidelines

After getting feedback from you your co-workers, revise your paper according to the aim and scope of the journals in your target research area. That will improve the chances of acceptance.

4. Develop an impressive title and abstract

The title and abstract are extremely important parts of a manuscript. Basically, the title should encapsulate the theme of the paper. The abstract should be a summary of the article within a specific word count.

5. Take the services of a professional editing firm

It is advisable to have a professional editing firm copy-edit your manuscript. An article submitted to a peer-reviewed journal will be analyzed critically by the editorial board, especially the references, main text, tables, and figures before it is selected for peer review. Running the manuscript through available software might help, but that can never replace the efforts of an expert and experienced editor in your chosen research field.

6. Include a cover letter along with the manuscript

A cover letter outlines the theme of the paper, presents the innovative aspect of the paper, and communicates the significance of the manuscript to the target journal. Therefore, it is mandatory to submit a cover letter along with the manuscript for publication.

7. Report reviewer comments carefully

Editors and editors-in-chief often ask researchers to “revise or resubmit” based on the comments provided by the reviewers. These revisions may necessitate major or minor changes in the manuscript. Therefore, it is important to address the comments received from the reviewers and avoid critical omissions. It is also crucial that you meet the given deadline for submitting the revised paper.

Given the ever-growing number of manuscripts submitted for publication, the procedure of presenting a manuscript in the best possible form and to have it accepted by a journal can be a formidable task because high-impact journals accept less than 10 percent of the articles submitted.

Therefore, the guidelines mentioned here could go a long way toward having your paper accepted and published by an esteemed journal. These recommendations require proper planning and careful implementation. Following the instructions could help researchers and other scholars improve the chances of getting their work published, and that is the key to having a productive and gratifying academic career.

Advantages of sharing your work

research sharing

To make your work stand out and enable it to reach large audience, you must be willing to share your research and your findings. This will help your research receive more attention in the fraternity and prompt new thoughts and advancements in the particular field of research. Read on to discover the best methods for sharing your work at each stage of production.

In the pre-submission stage

The proverb with preprints is “whenever, wherever”! You are allowed to share your preprints on any platform, whenever you want. Once your article is published, you are required to link the preprint to the formal publication by means of the article’s digital object identifier (DOI). Such links will enable your readers to access, cite, and utilize the best variant of your work. However, preprints should not be added to or upgraded in any way to make it a substitute for the previous forms of your articles.

After acceptance

Regarding accepted manuscripts, the golden rule is that you can share your research openly after the journals’ embargo time frame. You can quickly store your acknowledged manuscript copy in your establishment’s storehouse for inward use and then sit tight for the ban time frame to elapse before everybody can access it. In this process of sharing, you need to provide a link to the formal production through the DOI. Furthermore, the paper you share should bear a CC-BY-NC-ND permit.

At last, as with preprints, the paper must not be added to or upgraded in any capacity to make it a substitute for the distributed journal article.

After Publication

The approaches for sharing published journal articles (PJAs) differ for membership and open access articles, so you must ensure that the method is in keeping with the kind of article you are distributing.

If your article is a membership article, you can share the article or the links to the article through email, social media, own blog/website for non-commercial and internal purposes. The more links there are to your article from significant sources, more readers you’ll draw in and the higher it will show up in internet search results. In case your article is distributed open access, anybody can peruse your article. The reuse permit you select will decide how others can reuse your article and where you can post it.

Does Journal Acceptance Rates Matter?

Generally, journal acceptance rates or rejection rates are journal tools to assess the trend of rejection or acceptance, and also, to monitor any discrepancies occurring in it. These rates are an internal quality control benchmark, whereas the impact factor is an external benchmark.

Factors affecting journal acceptance rates

A lot of factors determine the journal acceptance rate. The two most important factors have been listed below:

  • Quality check: The rates depend on the quality of papers submitted to a journal.
  • Number of papers in the pipeline: It is the number of papers under review and not the papers submitted that is taken into consideration while calculating acceptance rates.

Most of the journals avoid publishing the journal acceptance rate on their website as they are of the view that authors might be put off by a lower rate of acceptance. Those journals that do mention do so mostly in their “About Us” or “Overview” section. Journal editors reject papers for various reasons like low novelty value or the standard of research is not up to the mark. The Editors or peer reviewers provide useful comments to authors as feedback. Most editor review papers only on the basis of scientific content ignoring the language part; but if they feel that the paper stands a chance for publishing after revision, then they also advise authors to seek professional help to improve the language of the paper. Hence, authors should not use acceptance/rejection rates as a basis for selecting a journal. However, a general conclusion can be drawn stating that higher the acceptance rate, higher is the probability of a paper being accepted.

In spite of smaller speciality and open access journals having a higher acceptance rate, most researchers prefer to submit in high impact factor journals as they have higher visibility. It is very evident that journals with high impact factor tend to uphold their quality, and hence, are very particular about the quality of research and also the paper. This leads to higher rejection rate or lower acceptance. Sometimes it also happens that authors submit their papers to high impact factor journals in the hope of getting published, even when they are aware that their paper is not a perfect match to that particular journal, thus decreasing the journal’s acceptance rate.

Journal acceptance rates do not hold much relevance in the era of open access publication. It is upon the researchers as to what matters the most to them- is it the journal acceptance rate or the journal impact factor?

Publication Cycle: An Overview

Every manuscript submitted to a journal has to progress through the complete publication cycle before it finally gets published. The publication cycle takes genesis with the research idea. The researchers take this idea to a new horizon by conducting experiments, taking into account the previous publications that deal with similar topic. The research draft is then submitted to a journal that is followed by the assessment, reviewing, and further production processing before being published. Let’s discuss the different phases in detail so that we can get a bird’s eye view of the entire publication process.

How publication cycle works?

After the manuscript is submitted, it is first screened by the Editor-in-chief; if rejected, the paper is returned to the author, and if accepted, it goes to the next level. Here, the paper is checked for plagiarism, and conformity to the journal guidelines. Once the manuscript clears this technical round it is then sent for review by a panel of reviewers, who are subject experts. Here, the reviewers either reject the paper for lack of novelty or other reasons that might be study specific or they could either accept the paper or suggest revisions before acceptance. The paper with revisions is sent to the Editor-in-chief for approval, before being sent for a second and final round of review. At times, the paper gets rejected even after coming this far. If the paper is accepted it then goes through the in-house publication process, before finally getting published.

Some journals forego this time taking and tedious process and instead publish all manuscripts after checking it for novelty, relevance to the field of study and compliance to the style guide of the journal. This ensures a shorter review time and faster publication.

How long can a publication cycle run?

The publication cycle time of a journal cannot be assessed unless and until it is specified by the journal. Hence, it is difficult to know which journals have a fast publication cycle. Some journals take months before they give their first decision whereas some let their first decision known in a couple of weeks. Generally, the time gap between submission and first decision varies between 2-3 weeks.

What if the publication cycle is slow-moving?

The slow decision process becomes mentally tasking for researchers, as they spent many anxious months and even years before they actually get to know if their manuscript has been published or not. If their manuscript does not get published they have to again go through the same process of preparing their manuscript according to the guidelines of a new journal, submit it there and again wait for its decision. This cycle sometimes goes on for a few years before the manuscript gets published. In this process sometimes it so happens that the relevance of the paper or the research gets outdated by the time it is accepted for publication, thereby making the efforts of the researcher futile.

It is for these reasons that the researchers earnestly want a fast publication cycle, where they do not have to wait for so long to get a decision on their manuscript. Also, the publication houses are trying their best to formulate ways to make the publication process faster so that good and relevant researches do not become irrelevant. However, the authors need to be aware of the millions of predatory journals luring them for publishing within a very short duration. The authors are the best person to judge their options and choose the one that helps their research best.

Bibliometric/Scientometric Indicators

Bibliometrics is a group of mathematical and statistical methods that are used to analyse and measure the quantity and quality of different forms of publications. Basically there are three types of bibliometric indicators:

  • Quantity indicators: These measure the productivity of a researcher.
  • Quality indicators: These measure the performance of a researcher.
  • Structural indicators: These measure the connection between publications, authors, and areas of research.

Bibliometric indicators influence funding decisions, appointments, and promotions of researchers; therefore, it is important for scholars as well as organisations.

Journal-level Bibliometric

Impact Factor

Journal Impact Factor is the most prevalent bibliometric indicator among journals. It is an assessment of how frequently articles published in a particular journal are cited on an average in the two years following their publication. The greater the impact factor, the more prominent the journal. The other well-known and widely accepted bibliometric indicators are:

SCImago Journal Ranking (SJR)

SJR takes into account both the number of citations received and the significance of the journals from where such citations are sourced. SJR computation uses an algorithm similar to Google PageRank.

Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP)

SNIP assesses the impact of contextual citation by measuring citations based on the total number of citations in a particular field of study. SNIP is defined as the ratio of a journal’s citation count per paper and the citation potential in its subject field.

Impact per Publication (IPP)

This mode of measurement calculates the ratio of citations in a year (Y) to scholarly papers published in the three previous years (Y-1, Y-2, Y-3) divided by the number of scholarly papers published in those same years (Y-1, Y-2, Y-3).

Author-level Bibliometric

Bibliometric indicators measuring the impact of individual authors are known as author-level metrics.

H-index

H-index measures both the productivity and impact of the published work of a researcher. It is the most well-known author-level metric at present.
However, h-index has the following shortcomings:
• It does not account for highly cited papers, i.e. the h-index of the author remains the same whether their most highly cited paper has 100 or 10 citations.
• It does not take into consideration the career span of the author. This is because it is only dependent on productivity and impact. Therefore, authors with longer career spans and more publications will always have higher scores.

To overcome these shortcomings of h-index, the following variants were proposed:

G-index

It is an author-level metric for quantifying scientific productivity based on publication record. G-index is found by analysing the distribution of citations received by a specific researcher’s publications.

M-index

It is defined as the h-index divided by the number of years the researcher has been publishing papers.

Usage of machine translation software in academic writing

The number of research articles submitted by non-native English speaking authors is increasing rapidly. However, the language barrier and time constraints are hindering their publication in English journals. With an intention to expand the reach of such innovative researches to other scholars and researchers, automated or machine translation software is a trending tool among academicians.

Akin to online proofreading software, the machine translation system is readily available on the web at little or no fee. Software such as Google Translate, Bing Translator, and Babel Fish are widely used in translating content through the rules-based systems. These systems are based on the translation techniques that analyze word patterns in the text in the documents that have been previously published or translated.

Cons of machine translation

Though useful to some extent, machine translation causes several errors in the document, thus affecting comprehension. Some serious mistakes recorded till date include:

  • Unnecessary fragments of the sentences in the translated material
  • Redundant and lengthy sentences creating confusion
  • Phrases ordered in an illogical manner
  • Word-by-word translation instead of contextual translation

The poor sentence structure along with errors in syntax and terminologies result in lack of clarity in the content and affect readability and comprehension. Eventually, the translated manuscripts or articles get rejected by journal editors because of a lack of clarity and coherence.

Machine translation software vs. Human Translators

Automated translation systems have been used for several years with the aforementioned drawbacks. Hence, the idea of utilizing machine translation software, i.e., Google Translate, Bing Translator, and Babel Fish, etc., is a risky one. Conversely, it is more advisable to use the expertise of academic translators to maintain or even enhance the integrity of the research material. Even if more expensive, manual translation services are worth it because they add credence to your manuscript.

Proper Citation: A Key Norm in Academic Publishing

What to Cite?
Academic publishing is important for the career enhancement of every researcher. A long string of publications under the belt of a researcher not only performs the constructive role of filling gaps in existing research, but also enhances the chances of the researcher being cited by other researchers. The number of times your research work is cited indicates the impact of the study in your research field.
Researchers usually draft their own investigations in the light of discoveries of other researches. In the process, it is vital for these study findings to be recognized as standalone researches by maintaining a strategic distance from issues like copyright infringements and plagiarism. To walk this academic tightrope, researchers take care to refer to previous studies by presenting the thoughts of the first researcher in one’s own writing and by referring to the earlier publication. Other than recognizing the work of different researchers, the citation process also helps readers discover the source article and refer to it to acquire more data or details.
The advent of the World Wide Web and the Internet has helped the process of identifying fitting, reliable, and logical scientific information and using it in one’s research with proper citations. The researcher takes recourse to online search tools, for example Google Scholar or PubMed, to gather information about publications revolving around the proposed research area. To disentangle the mass of search results, it is important to sieve research articles that could form part of the critical reading list.
Demonstrating In-Text Citing
The purpose of referencing or in-text citation is to give credit where it is expected. There are various reference style guides and it is up to the researcher and the requirements of the target journal to choose the most suitable one. If it’s a book citation, the author needs to consider the detailed referencing guidelines specific for books. In case of a thesis, the concerned university will have a favored reference style that needs to be followed. In case of research journals, one needs to visit the author page to peruse “Instruction for Authors.” Here, the author would get a bird’s-eye view of the required referencing style along with the in-text citation style. Once the reference style has been chosen, it is critical to remain faithful to the reference style in a consistent manner throughout the manuscript.
Here are three ways to use in-text research citations.
– Name-Year format: The surname of the first author is mentioned, followed by the publication year in brackets after the text.
For e.g.:
(Smith, 2017) or “Huron et al. (2017) stated that the tumor regeneration process was…”
– Citation-Sequence and Citation-Name: Both these citation styles are widely used by many journals. These two mainstream referencing styles are fundamentally the same. In both, in-text referencing is a number that compares to the full reference in the reference list. In case of Citation-Sequence, the number relates to every article’s ordered appearance. In case of Citation-Name format, the list of sources is arranged alphabetically. For example, if the primary article referenced in the manuscript was a work of Smith (an anonymous author name), this paper would be doled out the number 1. In the numbered book reference, if Citation-Sequence style is used, Smith would be the primary reference in the reference list. If Citation-Name style is used, the reference list would be arranged alphabetically, and the in-text number assigned to Smith would relate to whatever position Smith has in the reference list.
Hence, it is vital for a researcher or author to follow the reference style guide in an organized manner. Notably, footnotes are by and large not utilized as a part of logically written scientific work. Besides, there are style guides that demand abbreviating the journal names. For e.g.: International Journal of Civil Engineering can be abbreviated as ‎Int. J. Civ. Eng.
Fortunately, there are currently many reference management tools accessible to researchers and scientists. These tools assist academic research in maintaining consistency in reference citations with an assortment of style guides. Few examples are Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote, and Papers. These are additional reference directories, which are purchasable. However, all these reference managers also offer scholarly or understudy discounts.
Academic Publishing, Academic Research, Authors, Researchers

Ranking of referees for effective peer review process

The peer review process is important for all scientific publications. After a manuscript is accepted, it is sent to the journal-assigned peer reviewer, who evaluates its quality and factual accuracy. For an effective reviewing process, a behavioral economics journal initiated a process of ranking the peer-reviewers.

The peer review process includes analysis of the paper to check its suitability for the target journal based on the journal requirements and scope of publication of the research article. The main goal is to identify the uniqueness of the conducted study. The reviewer also checks the relevance of the citations in the text as well as those in the bibliography. The process also comprises verification of the accuracy of statistical analyses done in the study and proper presentation of the data in the paper.

The peer review process helps generate good and qualitative publications by working on the improvisation of factual contents. It also provides a logical justification for the research paper. Besides, it enables authors to use the critical feedback received from the reviewer to refine their manuscripts in a more productive or constructive manner by incorporating the revisions in the research paper.

Exemplar peer-reviewers ranking

Although the peer-review process is a crucial step, it sometimes becomes long and cumbersome, which impedes the publication cycle. To encourage an efficient reviewing process and to appreciate the reviewers’ work, the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics is in the news for its new strategy to release its referee list in descending order on its webpage.

The order will be judged based on the reviewing speed computed from the time of accepting the invitation to the time of submission. However, the journal has no plans to disclose the facts and figures of the ranking on its website. By ranking the reviewers, the journal aims to create an urge amongst peer reviewers to complete their reviewing process in time with high accuracy in order to be recognized by the journal on an online forum.

It is likely that the idea of speeding up the peer review process by a ranking system will soon catch on. If that happens, it could crunch the peer-review process followed by journals and increase the rate of submission and acceptance of papers.