Researchers’ Individual Publication Rate Has Not Increased in a Century

Authors : Daniele Fanelli, Vincent Larivière

Debates over the pros and cons of a “publish or perish” philosophy have inflamed academia for at least half a century. Growing concerns, in particular, are expressed for policies that reward “quantity” at the expense of “quality,” because these might prompt scientists to unduly multiply their publications by fractioning (“salami slicing”), duplicating, rushing, simplifying, or even fabricating their results.

To assess the reasonableness of these concerns, we analyzed publication patterns of over 40,000 researchers that, between the years 1900 and 2013, have published two or more papers within 15 years, in any of the disciplines covered by the Web of Science.

The total number of papers published by researchers during their early career period (first fifteen years) has increased in recent decades, but so has their average number of co-authors. If we take the latter factor into account, by measuring productivity fractionally or by only counting papers published as first author, we observe no increase in productivity throughout the century.

Even after the 1980s, adjusted productivity has not increased for most disciplines and countries. These results are robust to methodological choices and are actually conservative with respect to the hypothesis that publication rates are growing.

Therefore, the widespread belief that pressures to publish are causing the scientific literature to be flooded with salami-sliced, trivial, incomplete, duplicated, plagiarized and false results is likely to be incorrect or at least exaggerated.

URL : Researchers’ Individual Publication Rate Has Not Increased in a Century


Do Younger Researchers Assess Trustworthiness Differently when Deciding what to Read and Cite and where to Publish?

Authors : David Nicholas, Hamid R. Jamali, Anthony Watkinson, Eti Herman, Carol Tenopir, Rachel Volentine, Suzie Allard, Kenneth Levine

An international survey of over 3600 academic researchers examined how trustworthiness is determined when making decisions on scholarly reading, citing, and publishing in the digital age and whether social media and open access publications are having an impact on judgements.

In general, the study found that traditional scholarly methods and criteria remain important across the board. However, there are significant differences between younger (age 30 & under) and older researchers (over 30).

Thus younger researchers: a) expend less effort to obtain information and more likely to compromise on quality in their selections; b) view open access publishing much more positively as it offers them more choices and helps to establish their reputation more quickly; c) compensate for their lack of experience by relying more heavily on trust markers and proxies, such as impact factors; d) use all the outlets available in order to improve the chances of getting their work published and, in this respect, make the most use of the social media with which they are more familiar.


How subscription-based scholarly journals can convert to open access: A review of approaches

Authors : Mikael Laakso, David Solomon, Bo-Christer Björk

This article reviews the ways through which subscription-based scholarly journals have converted to open access. The methodology included a comprehensive literature review of both published and ‘grey’ literature, such as blog posts and press releases.

Eight interviews were also conducted with stakeholders representing different parts of the scholarly publishing landscape. Strategies of conversion for different types of journals are presented at multiple levels (publishers, national, research funders, organizational, and so on).

The identified scenarios are split into two main categories, those that rely heavily on article processing charges and those that can operate without relying on author-side financing.

Despite there being interesting and important shared traits among many converted journals, individual circumstances largely dictate what options for conversion are viable for a journal. There is no single solution that works for every journal but rather a broad selection of different solutions, among which selection should be well informed.

URL : How subscription-based scholarly journals can convert to open access: A review of approaches

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Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

Authors : David Solomon, Mikael Laakso, Bo-Christer Björk

This report identifies ways through which subscription-based scholarly journals have converted their publishing models to open access (OA).

The major goal was to identify specific scenarios that have been used or proposed for transitioning subscription journals to OA so that these scenarios can provide options for others seeking to “flip” their journals to OA.

The report is based on the published literature as well as “gray” literature such as blog posts and press releases. In addition, interviews were conducted with eight experts in scholarly publishing.

The report identifies a variety of goals for converting a journal to OA. While there are altruistic goals of making scholarship more accessible, the literature review and interviews suggest that there are also many practical reasons for transitioning to an OA model.

In some instances, an OA business model is simply more economically viable. Also, it is not unusual for a society or editorial board to transition to an OA business model as a means of gaining independence from the current publisher.

Increasing readership, the number and quality of submissions, and impact as measured in citations are important goals for most journals that are considering flipping. Goals and their importance often differ for various regions in the world and across different disciplines.

Each journal’s situation is unique and it is important for those seeking to flip a journal to carefully consider exactly what they hope to achieve, what barriers they are likely to face, and how the changes that are being implemented will further the goals intended for their journal.

We found that there are many issues that must be addressed in the process of changing a journal’s business model to OA.

The transition process is complex and in most cases requires at least a year. For example, it is necessary to address manuscripts in process and how to manage back issues. Obligations to subscribers must be negotiated, particularly when the journal’s subscription is bundled with other journals in multi-journal contracts, called “big deal” agreements.

A great deal of effort should go into marketing so that authors and readers are adequately informed of the change. Implementing the transition at the beginning of a volume also helps to avoid confusion.

Society-owned journals have specific challenges, such as losing the membership perk of free or discounted subscriptions for members. The wishes of the society’s membership and its willingness to accept sacrifices, such as increased dues or reduced services, must be considered if the society must give up income to flip.

Commercial publishers have a somewhat different set of goals from nonprofit or small societies. The goals and funding options for flipping journals to OA vary across disciplines and in different parts of the world. While there are many similarities across journals, each has its own unique challenges when converting from subscription to OA.

There are a variety of factors that facilitate conversion to OA. These forces are both top down and bottom up. Governments, funding agencies, and library cooperatives through large-scale initiatives such as mandates and special funding programs can facilitate conversion and directly and indirectly influence journals converting to OA.

Also, individuals and small groups, such as editors, the editorial board, or society members, have converted journals through their own efforts. There is no process that works for all journals and there are important variations in circumstances for each journal.

There are also barriers and risks to consider. Whether or not article processing charges (APCs) are used, ensuring adequate resources to publish the journal over the long term is critical.

Unintended consequences are also a concern. APCs, or even just the change to OA, may discourage submissions or decrease their quality. Loss of free or discounted subscriptions may decrease membership for societies.

Obtaining a good understanding of the potential risks and benefits of flipping through surveys, focus groups, and pilot programs, such as flipping only a section of a journal, are strategies for understanding and substantially reducing the risks associating with changing the business model.

The scenarios are organized into those based on APC funding and those based on obtaining resources or funding through other sources. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis was performed on a number of journal scenario examples to assess the risks and benefits of each scenario.

URL : Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences

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Academic Publishing: Making the Implicit Explicit

Authors : Cecile Badenhorst, Xiaolin Xu

For doctoral students, publishing in peer-reviewed journals is a task many face with anxiety and trepidation. The world of publishing, from choosing a journal, negotiating with editors and navigating reviewers’ responses is a bewildering place.

Looking in from the outside, it seems that successful and productive academic writers have knowledge that is inaccessible to novice scholars. While there is a growing literature on writing for scholarly publication, many of these publications promote writing and publishing as a straightforward activity that anyone can achieve if they follow the rules.

We argue that the specific and situated contexts in which academic writers negotiate publishing practices is more complicated and messy. In this paper, we attempt to make explicit our publishing processes to highlight the complex nature of publishing.

We use autoethnographic narratives to provide discussion points and insights into the challenges of publishing peer reviewed articles. One narrative is by a doctoral student at the beginning of her publishing career, who expresses her desires, concerns and anxieties about writing for publication.

The other narrative focuses on the publishing practices of a more experienced academic writer. Both are international scholars working in the Canadian context. The purpose of this paper is to explore academic publishing through the juxtaposition of these two narratives to make explicit some of the more implicit processes.

Four themes emerge from these narratives. To publish successfully, academic writers need: (1) to be discourse analysts; (2) to have a critical competence; (3) to have writing fluency; and (4) to be emotionally intelligent.

URL : Academic Publishing: Making the Implicit Explicit

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What Motivates Authors of Scholarly Articles? The Importance of Journal Attributes and Potential Audience on Publication Choice

Authors : Carol Tenopir, Elizabeth Dalton, Allison Fish, Lisa Christian, Misty Jones, MacKenzie Smith

In this article we examine what motivations influence academic authors in selecting a journal in which to publish.

A survey was sent to approximately 15,000 faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers at four large North American research universities with a response rate of 14.4% (n = 2021).

Respondents were asked to rate how eight different journal attributes and five different audiences influence their choice of publication output. Within the sample, the most highly rated attributes are quality and reputation of journal and fit with the scope of the journal; open access is the least important attribute. Researchers at other research-intensive institutions are considered the most important audience, while the general public is the least important.

There are significant differences across subject disciplines and position types. Our findings have implications for understanding the adoption of open access publishing models.

URL : What Motivates Authors of Scholarly Articles? The Importance of Journal Attributes and Potential Audience on Publication Choice

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Deconstructing the Durham Statement: The Persistence of Print Prestige During the Age of Open Access

Author : Sarah Reis

In the seven years following the promulgation of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, law journals have largely responded to the call to make articles available in open, electronic formats, but not to the call to stop print publication and publish only in electronic format.

Nearly all of the flagship law reviews at ABA-accredited institutions still insist on publishing in print, despite the massive decline in print subscribers and economic and environmental waste.

The availability of a law journal in print format remains a superficial indicator of prestige and quality to law professors, student editors, and law school administrations. A shift from print publication to electronic-only publication is not as simple as having a law journal merely cancel its print runs, but rather requires several fundamental changes to the publication process.

Many law journals must also greatly improve their websites before electronic-only publication can truly replace print publication. The Durham Statement was drafted by law library directors from top law schools across the country.

Law librarians today must assist in facilitating the transition if we ever expect to see a world of electronic-only publication of law journals.

This paper argues that the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Stanford Law Review must be the first law reviews to transition to electronic-only publication, after which other law journals will follow suit.