What Types of Articles Are Published in Academic and Scientific journals?

 

All journals and periodicals publish varied types of content, all generally referred to as articles. However, there are certain technical differences that differentiate the type of publication.

It is important for aspiring authors to understand the different types of publications in order to prepare for one. While choosing a journal for publication, it is also important to understand what type of publication the journal prefers or is presently soliciting. The time period is also a major determinant of what type of publication you should try for.

Types of publication:

Original Research Article: Original research is the most sought after publication; both by authors and also scientific journals and are considered as primary literature. It may be called an Original Article, Research Article, Research, or just Article, depending on the journal. These publications are detailed reporting of original research being presently conducted and conveyed for the first time to the rest of the world. They include hypothesis, background study, methods, results, interpretation of findings, and a discussion of possible implications.

It is also the most difficult to produce as it requires tenacious background research work, and is often a by-product of the actual exercise.

Review article: Academic and scientific journals usually publish two kinds of reviews; literature reviews, often called review articles, and book reviews, which are frequently referred to as reviews. Book reviews are usually solicited by journals from field experts whom they often commission for the review.

Literature reviews are bird’s-eye perspective on the published scholarship in a field of study or narrower area of specialization that provides a critical and constructive analysis of existing published literature in a field, through summary, analysis, and comparison. Scientific journals encourage a specific types of reviews like literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses as they are extremely popular with readers. However, one expects a certain level of experience and authority from the author to write such reviews and journals only entertain such entries from select authors.

Brief communications: Brief communications can take the form of short notes, news analysis, letters to editors, Opinions. These publications are marked by their brevity in terms of length, often restricted to 1200-2000 words. Such content has to be also extremely focused on a certain specific aspect with very little scope of theoretical exploration. These types of content are also referred to as ‘Perspectives’and are scholarly reviews or commentaries that present a personal point on widespread notions of ongoing discourse.

Brief communications can be very engaging, especially when directed to an author on a previously published article and if the latter chooses to respond to it. They are also very good sources for references for readers and hence their popularity.

Whatever type of content you choose to write, scientific journals will only publish them if they see value in it for readers. Thus, the quality of the content is critical irrespective of the format and it must enrich the present discourse in the field.

How Much Does It Cost To Publish in Science

Just writing a good research paper for a scientific journal is often enough to get published. Publishing one’s article often involves considerable monetary expenses as well. There are certain misconceptions about publishing that need to be clarified on the matter of author charges; (a) not all well-reputed peer-reviewed journals publish good quality articles for free and (b) any journal asking for an article processing charge is not necessarily a fraud or predatory journal.

Asking authors for certain charges for publication is a common practice that depends on the various business models followed by different journals, which in turn determines how they monetize the entire process. Depending on the business models, there are numerous forms of charges or levies that different journals impose on authors.

Well established traditional journals that have a substantive subscription base or a well-endowed trust to back their activities often do not charge fees from authors. But that too is not a set norm as many of them may charge some or nominal charges nonetheless. Some journals today do not charge money for the digital versions of the articles but request contribution to cover printing charges and distribution. Open access journals, which are often digital-only, may also charge fees to cover for peer-review and other administrative or operational expenses. There are different business models even for open access journals where some maybe subscription-based while others giving free access to anyone. Depending on the mode of access, the article processing charges may vary.

In most cases, good academic institutions are subscribers of good journals or have a membership or other such arrangements, such that any author from these institutions offering a research paper or review article for publication get institutional monetary support. This may be in the form of discount rates or even nominal expense coverage/grants for publication.

Some of the typical forms of charges associated with publishing in a scientific journal are:

Submission fee: many peer-reviewed journals levy a submission fee at the time of the review article submission. While authors may find this practice to be restrictive, some journals levy it only to keep spamming or substandard submissions at bay.

Membership fee: some journals seek to develop long-term relationships with authors and charge a membership fee. This covers charges for a specified number of articles over some specified time. Some also seek authors to do peer-review for other articles in exchange for getting their articles reviewed. The charges may depend on the type of engagement.

Publication fees: this is the most commonly understood charge, also known as author publishing charges or article processing charges (both read as APC), that covers the actual cost of publication.

A peer-reviewed article may charge all or a combination of these charges for a research paper. Thus, you may be charged a subscription fee during submission, and only have to pay a publication fee if your articles qualify for publication after peer review.

Portable Peer review: the new efficiency in publishing?

Peer review is perhaps the most critical but difficult step in publishing a research article in any journal. In the academic world, a publication without peer review is generally looked down upon and all major reputed journals follow peer review. Therefore, every author wants to get their research article published in such journals.

However, the entire peer-review process is extremely tedious and time-consuming. It often takes months for reviewers to send their reviews, which is followed by a prolonged process of editing by the author for resubmission; and this cycle continues. In the process, the publication gets delayed, authors may decide to stop pursuing one journal and shift to another journal, only to start the entire process all over again. Many journal editors reject most articles at the initial stage without even sending them for peer review only to avoid the hassle.

To get over this issue, certain journals combined to initiate what was called portable peer review. Portable peer review is a system where an author can resubmit one article manuscript to another publisher while sharing the peer review received from the first journal. Under this mechanism, the second journal acknowledges the review from the first incidence and takes up the process thereon, instead of starting the entire edit and review process from scratch.

There are several businesses that tried to specialize in portable peer review by offering a centralized reviewing service for both authors and publishers. These certified reviews could then be used by authors to apply to different publishers. Publishers too were expected to subscribe to such third-party review services for efficiency.

The initiative that has been active for quite some years has often received mixed responses. Following the initial optimism, the entire process did have very limited off-take. Besides the challenges with revenue models of some of these third-party review services leading to their failure, the biggest challenge for the system was that authors were often not comfortable to share harsh or critical reviews from one journal with another. More often than not, authors shift journals as they are not happy with their reviews; and shift to another journal only for a fresh and more optimistic second chance.

However, following the COVID related challenges, portable peer review seems to be gaining ground. The recently evolved C19 Rapid Review Initiative in medical sciences has received a positive response with nearly 2k reviewers signing up as rapid reviewers from more than 80 countries. The initiative started by Hindawi, the Royal Society, PLOS is now endorsed by SSRN, AfricArxiv, and Research on Research Institute (RoRI).UCL Press, Springer Nature, MIT Press, and Cambridge University Press joined the collaboration with a number of their titles, increasing the original group of nine publishers and organizations to 20 backings the C19 Rapid Review project.

While much of the new drive was necessitated by the need for finding a fast cure for COVID, this drive may change the fortunes of portable peer review in the future.

How to write a Literature Review article for a Journal

 Literature review articles are a critical form of publication. While all research articles require a literature review section, some articles are purely dedicated stand-alone literature reviews only, published as review articles or survey articles by journals. There exists a certain journal dedicated to such articles.

Review articles are extremely popular with professionals, young students, and novice researchers benefiting immensely from such evaluations of the existing literature in their fields of expertise. Review articles also tend to be highly cited, making them appealing for both journals and authors.

Here are some key tips on how to write a good literature review article for journal publication.

Depth of knowledge: depth and breadth of knowledge is necessary to produce a truly insightful and useful literature review for publication in a journal. A review article is not just about reporting recent literature on the subject that you have come across, but really about giving a unique perspective that threads all these together. One has to read the articles, grasp their essence, and then write about it with authority and interpretive wisdom which is intellectually challenging. While most journals prefer to invite experienced experts to write literature reviews, some do accept unsolicited author submitted manuscripts for publication provided they are of high caliber.

Choice of topic: The topic must not too broad and not too narrow and choose one correctly for the type of review you would like to write. Pick a narrow topic if you intend to write a short crisp review, either about a certain procedure/methodology being explored in your field or certain types of experiments being conducted. For a wider and theoretical exploration of new ideas or burning issues in your field, choose a topic that is wide enough so that you will be able to find enough articles to discuss.

Define the scope of the article: It is very important to limit the scope of the article in order to ensure that you do not lose focus. The point of a good literature review is sharing your perspective while amalgamating various perspectives or viewpoints. It is critical not to be deviate in your discussion by shifting focus to what the others were trying to say. Remember, people will read your article for what you want to say.

Thorough background research: a literature review requires thorough background research. You have to extensively read on the subject, even if you are not covering or referencing every article that you read. While the seminal works deserve a focus, remember there are many others who might have contributed to the field as well. It is critical to develop a wider perspective and then focus and cite some key articles only in your manuscript.

Constructive criticism: A review, while being critical, should not be about nitpicking. You may differ with some authors, or highlight some lacuna that needs to be explored in the field. However, your manuscript must reflect areas of development and encouragement for your readers, and offer new grounds for academic activism on the topic. Only then will a journal consider it for publication.

How to Write a Review Article for a Scientific or Academic Journal

Writing a peer review for a journal publication is a very important job. Any journal referring to you for peer review requests your expertise to judge if a review article meets the academic standards for publication. However, peer review is not like evaluating a submission by a student under you. Every reviewer needs to balance the perspective of the author of the publication along with the requirements of the journal.

How to approach reviewing an article

  • Start with first understanding the requirements of the journal. Most journals provide very specific instructions about the types of review articles they publish and what they expect from a reviewer. An academic journal for humanities might want narrative reviews based on the reviewer’s extensive knowledge and experience, whereas a scientific journal may prefer systematic reviews. It is best to discuss with the journal editor what exactly they are looking for from a reviewer.

 

  • Read the review article with an open mind and several times. Do remember the job is not to draft the review article as you would write it. Rather, you have to understand and respect the author’s academic Even if you may disagree with some arguments of the author, it is the author’s right to publish his arguments as long as the author is giving proper academic arguments and evidence. Your job is to ensure the review article is academically sound for journal publication.

 

  • While giving feedback to the author on the review article, remember that your ultimate goal is to discuss what the author needs to do in order to qualify for publication. The point is not to nitpick the manuscript but provide constructive and critical academic feedback that the author can use to improve their study for publication in the journal. Write the type of review you would like to receive if you were the author.

 

  • Draft a template for your review. Start with a summary of the review article that reflects what you understand of the article. This is a good start as it helps sync your thoughts with the author, and also helps the journal Follow it up with a listing of minor or major issues with the review article. Major issues refer to gaps in arguments, academic critique or fundamental questions with the research methodology, etc. Minor issues are missing or misplaced references, technical clarifications, etc. a reviewer can also add some comments addressed to only the journal editor, about issues with language, presentation, any problems with why this review article does not match the journal objectives or any such matters which you want to convey to the journal.

 

Conclusion

A reviewer has a very critical and moral responsibility. It is also an interesting job as it allows one access to the most latest academic work even before it is published. An empathetic and constructive reviewer can help both a journal and an author enrich their academic credentials.