ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Education
 

Notices


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 31st December 2012, 02:53 PM   #1
LightinDarkness
Master Poster
 
LightinDarkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,583
Faculty and Grad Students of JREF: Peer Reviewed Journal Publishing Discussion

I've been wanting to start a discussion amongst JREFers for some time on this...I am not sure if we have enough people interested to comment, but I'll give it a go anyways. I'm only a lowly PhD student but am struggling with the journal publishing process. I have several papers that, due to their nature and the data they contain, are not "good enough" for a top journal in my field but are good enough for lower tier journals. However, I am concerned how in the future my vita will be viewed if I publish in lower ranked journals. My mentors seem to be of two opinions, diametrically opposed, which adds to my confusion: one of them advises to only publish in the top 3 journals or my field (or top 3 sub-field journal), and to never go lower else I will be thought of as not caring about the quality of my work. The other advises me that in the end what matters most is that you get your work out there, and as long as its a REAL peer reviewed journal (IE no vanity presses, no open access, nothing where you have to pay to publish), it doesn't matter.

Now, I know that when it comes to academic publishing this varies widely by field...and school...and where one is at in ones career. So for context, I am in political science at a top 40 research university. In this subfield, it takes about 1-2 years to publish a paper at even lower ranked journals, and unlike the "hard sciences" (biology/chemistry/physics) co-authorship is usually limited to 2-3 people (no 10 people co-authored articles). So your publication opportunities are few and far between on average.

So...all that being said..any opinions on whether to publish in high ranked journals only (meaning far fewer publications, and dropping papers if they dont get in) versus quantity (as long as its legitimately peer reviewed)? Or a mix of both (but where along the continuum of quality/quantity if its a mix)?

Also, while were at it, any opinions on doing invited pieces that aren't blind peer reviewed but are academically edited and reviewed by the editors? I have received several invitations to do book chapters on this basis - from legitimate professors in my field and from non-vanity presses (IE, Sage Publishing) - but I wonder if these have any value at all since its not "real" peer review?

Last edited by LightinDarkness; 31st December 2012 at 03:03 PM.
LightinDarkness is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 31st December 2012, 04:41 PM   #2
Chris_Halkides
Philosopher
 
Chris_Halkides's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 7,491
publishing and the quality of journals

My background is in chemistry, which may be different from your field. It is better that work be published than not, as long as the work is sound. Sometimes great papers are in mediocre journals and vice versa. Of course, if some of your papers are in top journals, that is important, but I don't see why every paper has to be in a top journal. There are different philosophies about quantity versus quality, and my take is that it is better to publish fewer but stronger papers. However, some deans can count but not read.
__________________
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had
happened.” – Winston Churchill
Chris_Halkides is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 31st December 2012, 05:26 PM   #3
Startz
Critical Thinker
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 429
I am in economics, where a graduate student publication in any "good" journal is very positive. That probably means one of 50 journals...maybe more.

But the real advice is to go back to both mentors and say "I'm confused. I'm hearing you say this and Prof. X say that." Good academic advice is both discipline and situation specific. You need to hear from someone close to you.
Startz is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 31st December 2012, 05:42 PM   #4
Jorghnassen
Illuminator
 
Jorghnassen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 3,932
Within one's field, it can be quality over quantity. Outside, it's often the other way around. Done is better than good. Deans, admins don't care about quality. But the people who decide whether you deserve a research grant or not actually do. That said, you should know which journals in your field are at least decent, not mediocre. And you need to constantly show progress. Submit to top tier if you can, if it gets rejected, revise (peer reviews, even acerbic ones, almost always help in improving your work) and resubmit elsewhere if you have to (but not in garbage publications). But keep working and submitting articles. You can't get published if you don't submit papers.

And yes, book chapters have value (it may not be worth the same to the different evaluators, but it's better than nothing).
__________________
"Help control the local pet population: teach your dog abstinence." -Stephen Colbert
"My dad believed laughter is the best medicine. Which is why several of us died of tuberculosis."- Unknown source, heard from Grey Delisle on Rob Paulsen's podcast
Jorghnassen is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 1st January 2013, 01:35 AM   #5
FluffyPersian
Critical Thinker
 
FluffyPersian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 258
Originally Posted by LightinDarkness View Post
I've been wanting to start a discussion amongst JREFers for some time on this...I am not sure if we have enough people interested to comment, but I'll give it a go anyways. I'm only a lowly PhD student but am struggling with the journal publishing process. I have several papers that, due to their nature and the data they contain, are not "good enough" for a top journal in my field but are good enough for lower tier journals. However, I am concerned how in the future my vita will be viewed if I publish in lower ranked journals. My mentors seem to be of two opinions, diametrically opposed, which adds to my confusion: one of them advises to only publish in the top 3 journals or my field (or top 3 sub-field journal), and to never go lower else I will be thought of as not caring about the quality of my work. The other advises me that in the end what matters most is that you get your work out there, and as long as its a REAL peer reviewed journal (IE no vanity presses, no open access, nothing where you have to pay to publish), it doesn't matter.
I'm in a field related to economics, and I received this same advice. At most of the top 30 schools in my field, a B publication is worse than nothing at all.
FluffyPersian is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 1st January 2013, 06:30 AM   #6
Floyt
Chordate
 
Floyt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,636
I'm in Ecology, and I echo Jorghnassen. I'm only just starting out on the postdoc circus, and perceptions of importance seem to be split into quantity from the outside (fellowship programs want you to have at least X first-authored papers) and quality from the inside (in an interview, the PI will be sure to ask why my publications are in a national rather than an international journal). In my case, it's a little extreme in that 3/4 of my publications so far are bunched in one single special edition - them's the wages of single-topic, multi-disciplinary projects. However, I've been left in no doubt by my supervisors and most anyone else who should know that the stuff is better out there than in the drawer, waiting for some top-class journal to cave in.

I'm getting the impression, though, that this trade-off is very highly discipline-dependent.
__________________
They had no god; they had no gods; they had no faith. What they appear to have had is a working metaphor.
- Ursula K. Le Guin, "Always Coming Home"
Floyt is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 2nd January 2013, 01:06 PM   #7
pgwenthold
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 13,722
From a faculty perspective, who is on the EVALUATING end ...

Which is better, quality or quantity? Yes.

Given the same number of publications in high quality journals, then quantity is better. Given the same number of overall publications, then the better quality is better. What you want is as many publications as possible in the best possible journals.

As a grad student or post-doc, typically you want first author publications, but a second author publication in a much more prestigious journal is better than a first author pub in a low quality journal.

Of course, this is merely resume padding. If you are looking for a job or fellowship or something like that, what you need also are letters from a diverse array of sources that affirm your capabilities and contributions as suggested by your publication record. If you are the first author on a lot of papers, it is a lot better if it is because you wrote them (at least working versions of them) as opposed to them being based extensively on your work but your adviser wrote them.

Ultimately, if you are talking about a faculty position, given that the an extensive component of the job is writing, I am always of the opinion that demonstrated ability to write effectively is extremely important, and so I am very interested in how much you have written in your training. Obviously, quality of the work is important in terms of how much impact it has, how famous you get, and for getting funding, but no matter how good the work is, if you aren't writing it up and getting it published, you will never be able to sustain it.

Everyone has spells of low impact results, and not everything you do is a major breakthrough. However, you need to show that you are still progressing the problem and advancing knowledge in-between the breakthroughs. Then, when you do get the major breakthrough, you can point to the earlier work you did that led up to it and increase your citation index.
__________________
"Baseball is a philosophy. The primordial ooze that once ruled our world has been captured in perpetual motion. Baseball is the moment. Its ever changing patterns are hypnotizing yet invigorating. Baseball is an art form. Classic and at the same time...progressive. Baseball is pre-historic and post-modern. Baseball is here to stay."

(Stolen from the side of a lava lamp box, and modified slightly)
pgwenthold is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 2nd January 2013, 04:52 PM   #8
Dinwar
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 13,589
I'm in paleo, and while I'm neither faculty nor a grad student I have some experience with peer review (published a few things myself).

The higher-teir journals are fine for what they are, but they're not the repositories of all that is good in science. They're the showy publications, the ones that get a lot of press--but honestly, equally significant work is done by people that publish in museum memoires or regional publications. Remember, all journals are selling to a particular demographic. Science and Nature try to sell to ALL scientists, so they can only take a handful of publications from any science (and they're heavily biased towards some, in my experience). Something like the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin is aimed at a subset of one particular field of science, and so can include papers that would never get published by the higher-tier journals.

The key to getting lasting recognition is to publish consistently, and with high standards. INTERNAL standards--meaning that YOUR standards for evidence are high, regardless of what the journal's standards of evidence are. If you do that, people will recognize your work. And, which is equally important, when you finally DO land the position as chair of a department you'll actually be able to keep it. People who rush to publish in the highest-impact journals, rather than working to provide good data and analysis, are chasing fads and will quickly fade.

When I was a grad student I asked one of the curators at a museum in Milan what his advice was to a neophyte paleontologist. He said "Do your work, and do it well. Forget whether it has a large impact or not." That's really the best advice anyone can give you. Again, chasing high-impact journals will lead you to chasing fads, rather than solid science. Systematically approaching your work and maintaining rigorous internal standards, on the other hand, will get you noticed.

I'll go further: this emphasis on publishing in high-impact journals is flat-out dangerous to science. Science is all about the free exchange of ideas, and following the evidence wherever it leads. If we only accept publications in high-impact journals as valid, or as a valid objective, we are essentially handing science over to a small handful of editers. Care to imagine how that'll end up in two generations? Worse, a lot of sceince simply won't get done because it's not "important" enough--yet I can assure you, obscure references and no-name researchers are responsible for multi-million dollar decisions in the private sector (I can say that with absolute confidence, because I spent a chunk of today doing exactly that). Imagine a world where Mendel was ignored because he couldn't get into Nature, or where most medical research was ignored because it was in second-tier journals! The high-impact stuff is just that: the discoveries with the highest impact. It IS NOT the best science, and the idea that it's the only science worth discussing idiotic to the point of being suicidal.
__________________
GENERATION 8: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Dinwar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th January 2013, 12:15 PM   #9
volcano
Critical Thinker
 
volcano's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 421
My experience echos Dinwar's, but our fields are similar (I'm also a geologist). I was advised to publish in the best journal possible, but most importantly, publish. I recently wrote a paper that was a bit long (too many words & WAY too many figures) for Journal A (impact factorWP of 4.5). I could have submitted the paper as-is to Journal B (impact factor of 2), but instead made the decision to rework the paper so that it would be the appropriate length for Journal A. The data are solid and the conclusions are pretty darn cool, but not cool enough for Science or Nature (impact factors ~30).
volcano is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th January 2013, 07:24 PM   #10
LightinDarkness
Master Poster
 
LightinDarkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,583
Thanks for the responses thus far, this has been very interesting for me. I knew there was always a big difference in this across disciplines, but it appears to be more discipline specific than I thought. I also think it depends on the type of institution your at.

For me, I happen to come from a highly ranked institution (top 10) for my field, although the university as a whole is not prestigious (good top public research university, but no where close to ivy league). However, I have no plans on trying to get a tenure track job at a top research university - I enjoy research but I don't enjoy the culture or environment of a R1. If I can get a job at a low ranked public school that lets me do a 3/2 teaching load and is rural (low cost of living = my small salary goes further!), I'd be thrilled. So, sufficient to say, I don't exactly have grand career plans. I'm OK with being at Podunk U for life.

Given such aspirations...I wonder if that changes the publishing equation. Particularly if you are a graduate student. As it stands now I have 1 article in the top journal for my field, 1 article in a respectable (1st tier) sub-field journal, and am looking at publishing a theory based article in a 2nd tier journal. Due to the nature of theoretical articles, I would have a difficult time getting this article into a top journal....not because its bad in my opinion, but because my field is really harsh on theory based articles. Just my best guess, but I'd say on average the top journals for political science have probably a 5-8% acceptance rate or lower for articles with original data and major findings...and are probably 1-2% acceptance for theory articles. My chances at getting into a tier 2 journal are probably 10-15% for original data and 5-10% for theory.

Last edited by LightinDarkness; 4th January 2013 at 07:27 PM.
LightinDarkness is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 10:00 AM   #11
LightinDarkness
Master Poster
 
LightinDarkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,583
Well..guess we dont have that many academics on JREF as I thought...that or this is terribly boring to talk about for most of them
LightinDarkness is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 10:30 AM   #12
volcano
Critical Thinker
 
volcano's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 421
Originally Posted by LightinDarkness View Post
Well..guess we dont have that many academics on JREF as I thought...that or this is terribly boring to talk about for most of them
The education threads seem to get fewer views and comments than most other sections-- I guess the really interesting education stuff always ends up in Current Events and Social Issues
volcano is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 10:54 AM   #13
The Shrike
Master Poster
 
The Shrike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,789
Faculty here, in wildlife ecology at an R1.

I agree with others that best quality (perceived at least) is always a plus, but that you shouldn't substitute "not publishing" for "can't get it into Nature." I publish everywhere from state-level journals that just barely qualify as peer-reviewed to the top journals in my field, e.g., the Journal of Wildlife Management. Now JWM is a joke compared to Science or Nature, but it's the go-to journal for people in my field, and those are the people I'm trying to reach. My administration would be tickled if I got a paper in Science, but it would probably have less of an actual impact in that journal than if I published the same paper in JWM.

Now for some constructive criticism that might help you on the job market, even at Podunk U.:

" . . . institution your at."

While it's technically okay in the eyes of many to end sentences with prepositions, it's still an anathema to a lot of us older folks, by which I mean people over 40. Ending your sentence with "at" actually bothered me more than the wrong "your" in that phrase. For folks in grad school and hoping to be on the job market, this stuff really matters all the time. It's like the old piano teachers' adage: "When we allow ourselves to make mistakes when we practice, we're practicing making mistakes."
The Shrike is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 11:41 AM   #14
LightinDarkness
Master Poster
 
LightinDarkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,583
Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Now for some constructive criticism that might help you on the job market, even at Podunk U.:

" . . . institution your at."

While it's technically okay in the eyes of many to end sentences with prepositions, it's still an anathema to a lot of us older folks, by which I mean people over 40. Ending your sentence with "at" actually bothered me more than the wrong "your" in that phrase. For folks in grad school and hoping to be on the job market, this stuff really matters all the time. It's like the old piano teachers' adage: "When we allow ourselves to make mistakes when we practice, we're practicing making mistakes."
A valid point, although in my defense I am more careful with my academic writing. However, you are not alone in thinking this, but I've never really understood why academics obsess so much over grammar and spelling unless you happen to be in the English department.

I have a mild form of dyslexia - I easily confuse their, there, your,you're, and I can transpose numbers and even if you tell me they are transposed I won't notice it even if I stare at it. Not an excuse - I know excuses don't matter and no one cares what your problems are on the hiring committee - but its the truth. I pay out of pocket to a English PhD student to edit everything I do that I am trying to get published for that reason. In my opinion its insane that I have to do so because journals employ copy editors and my incorrect use of "their" or "your" shouldn't matter if I am writing something that makes a contribution. But I have learned that if you give academics anything small and easy to hyper focus on, they will do so to the point of ignoring any contribution your writing may make. Its like doing a paper with a case study methodology in political science without including a string cite to methodologists who point out that case studies can be generalized in certain contexts - the equivalent of throwing red meat to starving lions.

It still is a pet peeve of mine though.... I know one of the top political scientists in my field and her writing is terrible (flow of thought style) and everything she publishes has to be gone over multiple times by graduate students who do major editing to make it readable. Of course, as a leading theorist with tenure she has the luxury of being able to do that.

Last edited by LightinDarkness; 6th January 2013 at 11:48 AM.
LightinDarkness is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 11:47 AM   #15
LightinDarkness
Master Poster
 
LightinDarkness's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,583
Originally Posted by volcano View Post
The education threads seem to get fewer views and comments than most other sections-- I guess the really interesting education stuff always ends up in Current Events and Social Issues
Ah, that would explain it then.
LightinDarkness is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th January 2013, 03:34 PM   #16
pgwenthold
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 13,722
Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Faculty here, in wildlife ecology at an R1.

I agree with others that best quality (perceived at least) is always a plus, but that you shouldn't substitute "not publishing" for "can't get it into Nature." I publish everywhere from state-level journals that just barely qualify as peer-reviewed to the top journals in my field, e.g., the Journal of Wildlife Management. Now JWM is a joke compared to Science or Nature, but it's the go-to journal for people in my field, and those are the people I'm trying to reach. My administration would be tickled if I got a paper in Science, but it would probably have less of an actual impact in that journal than if I published the same paper in JWM.

Now for some constructive criticism that might help you on the job market, even at Podunk U.:

" . . . institution your at."

While it's technically okay in the eyes of many to end sentences with prepositions, it's still an anathema to a lot of us older folks, by which I mean people over 40. Ending your sentence with "at" actually bothered me more than the wrong "your" in that phrase. For folks in grad school and hoping to be on the job market, this stuff really matters all the time. It's like the old piano teachers' adage: "When we allow ourselves to make mistakes when we practice, we're practicing making mistakes."

Ending a sentance with an inapropriate "at" is also one of my pet peeves. Unfortunately it is very common. Shoot, I called out my SIL, who has a PhD in communication, on it. My other thing is when people use "you and I" incorrectly, as when it is an object of a preposition.

I have been thinking about this lately. Science folks always make a big stink about innumeracy and complain that no one would ever be so accepting in their illiteracy, but I don't agree. I think we are just as illiterate as innumerate, but the imprecision of language makes it close enough to be understood. Math is not as forgiving.
__________________
"Baseball is a philosophy. The primordial ooze that once ruled our world has been captured in perpetual motion. Baseball is the moment. Its ever changing patterns are hypnotizing yet invigorating. Baseball is an art form. Classic and at the same time...progressive. Baseball is pre-historic and post-modern. Baseball is here to stay."

(Stolen from the side of a lava lamp box, and modified slightly)
pgwenthold is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 07:40 AM   #17
The Shrike
Master Poster
 
The Shrike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,789
According to Human Resources I am a scientist, but that doesn't mean I spend every minute of the day formulating hypotheses and analyzing data. What I do all day long is edit others' writing. I think that's the experience of most academics. When we're not working on our own writing, we're editing grad student papers, providing reviews for journals, and grading student essays. This is the day-to-day reality for us. We spend a lot more time and effort in writing than we do in math. This is why we tend to be hyper-vigilant to what seem like silly little grammatical errors.

As for how silly and little they might be, writing that is imprecise leads to ambiguity in interpretation. For example, I might see a statement in a manuscript like "we found 10 birds" in such and such place. I can't tell from the words before me if that means 10 individuals of the same species or at least 10 different species of birds represented by some indeterminate abundance of each. So when I'm reviewing something, I can't really absorb its potential scientific contribution until I'm confident that what I'm reading is what the author is actually attempting to communicate.

It sounds, LightinDarkness, like it's even more important for you to come up with some ways to prevent such little errors from slipping into your writing than it would be for a student without a learning disability. Your challenge is more difficult than just paying greater attention, but you owe it to yourself to develop an efficient workaround if you aspire to an academic career.
The Shrike is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 08:59 AM   #18
Dinwar
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 13,589
Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Now JWM is a joke compared to Science or Nature, but it's the go-to journal for people in my field, and those are the people I'm trying to reach. My administration would be tickled if I got a paper in Science, but it would probably have less of an actual impact in that journal than if I published the same paper in JWM.

Now for some constructive criticism that might help you on the job market, even at Podunk U.:
Therein lies the problem with high-impact journals: they're often not actually that influential. I don't think, in two years working as a paleontologist, I've used one Science or Nature article--and that's out of several hundred that I've referenced. Paleontologia Electronica, on the other hand, has provided numerous articles that have been critical to my projects. PE is a (now) electronic-only publication that I doubt anyone's heard of outside of a fairly narrow range of researchers.

Impact factor is a measure of popularity, not of effectiveness or quality (though this being science, popularity and quality aren't wholely dissociated).

Quote:
While it's technically okay in the eyes of many to end sentences with prepositions,
My sister is a professor of English literature, and grammar and citation styles are two of her big areas of interest (no, I don't get it either). Turns out ending sentences with prepositions is technically correct now, and has been for about five or six years. Various institutions that think they have the power to influence such things have realized that that's the way English is used anymore, and therefore (since we're not French and don't have an official pannel determining the language) it is in fact correct grammar. "Ain't" is also proper grammar, but will still get you into trouble, so proper in general doesn't mean proper at all times--I'm just saying that if someone gets to the point where they're interviewing for a position and the interviewer asks them about that, they can show their mad research skilz by citing those organizations.
__________________
GENERATION 8: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Dinwar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 11:16 AM   #19
volcano
Critical Thinker
 
volcano's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 421
Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
Therein lies the problem with high-impact journals: they're often not actually that influential. I don't think, in two years working as a paleontologist, I've used one Science or Nature article--and that's out of several hundred that I've referenced.
I cite Science and Nature articles for big-picture type things, but most of the useful data tend to be published in more utilitarian journals.

I was curious about the number so I just did a quick search-- in my personal Papers database (which includes papers that I've cited for the last three papers that I've written), approx 6% of the cited papers are from Nature and 1% are from Science.

According to that same database, here are the six journals that I cite most frequently:
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 12% (impact factor: 3.4)
Journal of Petrology 12% (impact factor: 4.1)
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 9% (impact factor: 4.2)
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 9% (impact factor: 2.0)
Geology 6% (impact factor: 4.4)
Nature 6% (impact factor: 36.3)

Not sure what that tells me. I guess my citation sweet spot (the journals I tend to cite most frequently) generally have an impact factor around 3-4.
volcano is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 12:16 PM   #20
Dinwar
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 13,589
Originally Posted by volcano
I was curious about the number so I just did a quick search-- in my personal Papers database (which includes papers that I've cited for the last three papers that I've written), approx 6% of the cited papers are from Nature and 1% are from Science.
I haven't checkd through it, but I only remember 1 Nature article and no Science articles. The Nature article was written by my boss (it was relevant, though--it dealt with a particular type of fossil that I happened to be looking for references on).

Quote:
Not sure what that tells me. I guess my citation sweet spot (the journals I tend to cite most frequently) generally have an impact factor around 3-4.
Makes sense. The thing is, as I said, impact factor is a popularity contest. To get a huge impact factor you have to appeal to a wide range of audiences--chemists, paleontologists, astronomers, theoretical physicists, mathematicians, developmental biologists, geneticists, and so on. Thing is, we generally suck at reading each other's data. I'm not going to read through page after page of thermodynamics equations, and I doubt a chemist is going to read page after page of taxonomical descriptions. The problem is, those thermodynamics equations and taxonomic descriptions are the data that the relevant fields need. So a high-impact journal is going to tend towards articles that don't require such detailed information--they'll be broader research (punctuated equilibrium, for example), or papers on impressive topics that can be expressed relatively briefly (like my boss's paper), or papers that are so important that most scientists (controversial topics, or things like the structure of DNA). Note that none of this is bad, in any way; it's just that the actual data is often insufficient to be used by people in the field (the ideas are the important part--sorry if I'm putting a lot of caveats and paranthetical statements in, I just don't want to be misunderstood, and I AM attacking icons of the scientific world here). When you need that data for your work, extremely high-impact journals are actually detrimental in many cases. You go to them when you need the broad paradigms and concepts.

I'd say that sweet spot represents the high-impact journals for each field. They bring together a broad range of topics and generate wide interest, while still catering to a narrow enough range of researchers that they can assume we all can understand the data (ie, if you can't read a strat column or understand the difference between stress and strain, you probably shouldn't be reading Geology) and thus are free to include large, boring tables and charts and graphs and descriptions and such that would drive away other researchers (and thus drive down the impact factor).

The real tricky part is how to deal with stuff like Memoires and Philosophical Transactions series (seri? serieses?). That's where you find a lot of detailed anatomical descriptions of fossil organisms. This stuff is absolutely vital to paleontology, but so mind-numbingly boring that the only people who read them are those who need that data for a specific project. These journals exist because no one else will publish the papers. They are rarely cited, so their impact factor is going to be very low. At the same time, if you were to remove them the entire field of science would collaps fairly quickly. I'm sure other fields have similar journals; this is just the ones that I'm familiar with. Publishing in such journals is hardly shameful; I'd go so far as to say it's actually proof that one is serious about their occupation. But if we only have impact factor to go by (as the OP suggests), many of these journals would fair no better than popular press publications.
__________________
GENERATION 8: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Dinwar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 01:50 PM   #21
Folly
Thinker
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 245
I'm currently a PhD student in computing science, and was involved in academic research for a bit more than 10 years before that (yes, that's kind of backwards...) My supervisor, and all the faculty I dealt with previously while working, all had the opinion that "if it can't make it into a top tier conference*, don't publish it at all". There were a couple of exceptions - over the course of almost 15 years - for things which fell well outside the usual area of research, but that's it. The thought was that time spent on getting together a mediocre publication was wasted time that could have been used getting together something better (possibly even the same idea, with more experiments, bells and whistles, or just some polishing.)

I'm not sure whether any of them would have thought that X good publications plus Y mediocre publications is worse than just X good publications. Maybe depending on what X is? I know my supervisor is only concerned about the time spent (i.e. he thought spending no more than a couple of weeks to publish some already finished thesis-unrelated work in a second tier conference was fine) but I'm not sure about everyone else. At least one idea I worked on with a different professor in years past remains unpublished, after we failed to get it into the couple top-tier conferences, so they might just be strictly against it. Given you already have a few top tier publications and this might be reasonable for your field, and there's a good "excuse" for not publishing top-tier (they don't publish many theory papers) my supervisor and I would publish in the 2nd tier journal.

Of course... your mentors are much more aware of the expectations of your field. So, everything I said aside, in your shoes, I would totally recommend talking with them about why they disagree. This seems like exactly the kind of thing your faculty advisors are there for, and if one of them can't convince the other, then either option is probably reasonable and you get to decide based on which person you would rather disagree with

* CS has an additional oddity: the top tier publications for many (all?) of the sub-disciplines like AI or search aren't journals, they're conference proceedings. There are top tier journals too, but they're considered to be "too slow" and many people end up with no journal publications whatsoever. This all works fine and well, up until you run into a multi-disciplinary funding committe which is unaware of this odd practice, and they wonder why you have no journal publications...

Last edited by Folly; 7th January 2013 at 01:51 PM.
Folly is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 02:44 PM   #22
Dinwar
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 13,589
Originally Posted by Folly
I'm not sure whether any of them would have thought that X good publications plus Y mediocre publications is worse than just X good publications.
Well, that's the thing: we're not talking about the quality of the publication, but rather the impact factor of the journal. These are two very different concepts. For example, the descriptions of fossils of the Cambrian Explosion are among the highest-quality publications in science, but were published in a journal with an impact factor that was negligible due to the nature of the publication (you can't edit such papers in any way that will get them into a top-tier journal; it's impossible). That's why I'm hounding this issue so much: impact factor is NOT a measure of the quality of the papers, and some people seem to have confused the two, which is extremely detrimental. People publishing in Geology aren't publishing mediocre research; they're publishing high-quality material. It's just not what Science and Nature can, due to their format and audience, publish. Same with the people publishing in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin. For other fields, substitute journal names (or conference names) as appropriate.
__________________
GENERATION 8: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Dinwar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 03:04 PM   #23
ingoa
Surfing on the relativistic brain wave
 
ingoa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 494
In case of particle and nuclear physics you can have hundreds of co-authors. In this case publications with only a few or even no co-authors will have much more weight. A publication with 500 authors and 1000 citations will weight less than 4 authors and 8 citations. Vanity authorship of old guys hurts young people (except Nobel Prize winners ). My 2 cents
__________________
Suum cuique

I have no prejudices. I hate everbody!

Last edited by ingoa; 7th January 2013 at 03:05 PM. Reason: Grammar
ingoa is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 03:30 PM   #24
The Shrike
Master Poster
 
The Shrike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 2,789
A big deal in North American ornithology right now is that through accidents of our nearly 200 year history we've ended up with 6-7 different, international societies and journals. Even the top-rated among them (the American Ornithologists' Union's The Auk) has a meager impact factor overall. It is, however, incredibly influential to ornithology, especially in the Western Hemisphere.

To modernize and hopefully help put our field on better footing (for example, there's just one Journal of Mammalogy for North American mammalogists), some folks are working to consolidate ornithological societies and journals. This is, of course, going over like a lead balloon.
The Shrike is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 04:15 PM   #25
BoogieWoogieWookie
Thinker
 
BoogieWoogieWookie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA in the Bible Belt
Posts: 237
I got a chuckle from the issue of ending sentences with a preposition. I have always had a tendency to do this myself. I suppose this goes with my "hillbilly" heritage.

Just this morning while reading the paper, I reached for my coffee cup to continue sipping on my third cup of the morning. My fingers failed to find it, and peeking over the top of the comics section I saw it on the shelf where my wife had placed it after washing it.

I admonished her thusly, "What did you put that cup that I was drinking out of up for?"
__________________
When one forfeits one's ability to think critically, ties it all up in a neat little bundle with pretty ribbons and hands it to their pastor or priest, all that's left is an ability to mindlessly blather inanities taught at Sunday School, without a whit of understanding.
BoogieWoogieWookie is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 04:17 PM   #26
BoogieWoogieWookie
Thinker
 
BoogieWoogieWookie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: USA in the Bible Belt
Posts: 237
Double post. #$%^@$% DSL connection going bonkers again.
__________________
When one forfeits one's ability to think critically, ties it all up in a neat little bundle with pretty ribbons and hands it to their pastor or priest, all that's left is an ability to mindlessly blather inanities taught at Sunday School, without a whit of understanding.

Last edited by BoogieWoogieWookie; 7th January 2013 at 04:19 PM.
BoogieWoogieWookie is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 06:53 PM   #27
Folly
Thinker
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 245
Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
Well, that's the thing: we're not talking about the quality of the publication, but rather the impact factor of the journal. These are two very different concepts. For example, the descriptions of fossils of the Cambrian Explosion are among the highest-quality publications in science, but were published in a journal with an impact factor that was negligible due to the nature of the publication (you can't edit such papers in any way that will get them into a top-tier journal; it's impossible). That's why I'm hounding this issue so much: impact factor is NOT a measure of the quality of the papers, and some people seem to have confused the two, which is extremely detrimental. People publishing in Geology aren't publishing mediocre research; they're publishing high-quality material. It's just not what Science and Nature can, due to their format and audience, publish. Same with the people publishing in the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Bulletin. For other fields, substitute journal names (or conference names) as appropriate.
I was using "good" publication for something in a top tier venue and "mediocre" publication for something that's not, and I'll accept that this might not necessarily be the best choice of words. I also agree that you're hounding this distinction: it's pretty clear that a body of work doesn't suddenly become poor quality merely because the venue of publication changes, and I took that as an obvious given fact. While I can't say no one is mistaking impact factor of venue for publication quality (just need one counterexample!) I would be surprised if it wasn't more a matter of "if I want to find high quality work in an area, I'll keep with the writing in high impact venues IN THAT AREA first, and the other places later or not at all." The part about IN THAT AREA is important, too: you may be in an area where the high impact venues just aren't high impact compared to other areas. Geology certainly doesn't have the impact factor of Science or Nature, but pretty much nothing else does, and given that it appears to be the top ranked venue IN THAT AREA, then no one I know would be considering it a second tier conference. Computing science might be different, but I would be very surprised if people involved in geology research consider Geology to be publishing mediocre material.

So I'm not going to feel too bad about the choice of words: depending on the context, a great piece of work in a low impact journal might BE a mediocre publication. The context and surrounding details matter, and I stand by the recommendation to talk with the faculty members involved. If they say it's likely more bad than good to publish in a second tier journal, given all the details and the chosen career direction, then I wouldn't publish it there...
Folly is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th January 2013, 07:42 PM   #28
Chris_Halkides
Philosopher
 
Chris_Halkides's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 7,491
If your advisor wishes you to publish some work, that is a good reason to do so.
__________________
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had
happened.” – Winston Churchill
Chris_Halkides is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2013, 09:22 AM   #29
Dinwar
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 13,589
Originally Posted by Folly
I would be surprised if it wasn't more a matter of "if I want to find high quality work in an area, I'll keep with the writing in high impact venues IN THAT AREA first, and the other places later or not at all."
It depends on what you're looking for. And it's not just an issue of having a high or low impact factor in the area of interest. Again, publications specializing in species descriptions have extremely low imapct factors--yet they are hardly low-quality work, and serve as the foundation for an entire field of science. These are scattered across innumerable journals, since each museum seems to have its own (and no one else will publish them), so these journals have no chance of ever becoming high-impact journals, even in paleontology. I can't believe (mostly because evidence to the contrary has been presented in this thread) that paleontology is unique in this.

Impact factor is not a measure of quality in any sence. It is a measure of how many people read and cite the papers. While this is loosely correlated with quality, we're supposed to be scientists. Such shortcuts, with such obvious shortcomings, should be the sort of thing we strive to avoide.

Quote:
and I stand by the recommendation to talk with the faculty members involved.
I certainly agree here. They are your advisors for a reason: they are there to advise you. Always trust them more than random idiots on the internet.

Quote:
If they say it's likely more bad than good to publish in a second tier journal, given all the details and the chosen career direction, then I wouldn't publish it there...
This is the insidious danger of the impact factor: it becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy. The way a journal increases its impact factor is to publish important works--but if people refuse to publish in anythign but the top-tier publications (even if we assume we're talking just about that field) there's no way for anything but the top-tier publications to increase their impact factor. That means that only the top tier journals will matter, leading to a homogionization of science. And again, it means that the definition of high-quality research is put into the hands of a small number of people (the editors and reviewers of those few journals left after everyone abandons the rest). This is quite dangerous. To give an example of why, look at European and North American paleontology. Europe focuses on taxonomy and species descriptions. North America focuses on paleoecology. Neither focus on taphonomy or sedimentology. Taken to its logical conclusion, your system would leave us with a North American journal for paleoecology and a European journal for taxonomy--and neither journal would publish works focused on the other one, because welll that's just not important. Don't tell me it won't happen; it's already happening. A focus on publishing in only top-tier journals would make this even worse.

I'm not the only one saying this, by the way. This isn't an uncommon topic on PaleoNet, and believe me, I'm on the moderate side of this issue!

This isn't something that a student needs to worry about, certainly--again, listen to your advisors and do what's right for your career path. But the rest of us? We're scientists. We define the culture of this institution. I would say that it's an obligation to see to it that this culture is as conducive to the purpose of science as we can make it--and I honestly don't think that impact factor plays a role in it.
__________________
GENERATION 8: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Dinwar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Education

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:24 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2014, TribeTech AB. All Rights Reserved.
This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.