The Journal Article as a Means to Share Data: a Content Analysis of Supplementary Materials from Two Disciplines

Authors : Jeremy Kenyon, Nancy Sprague, Edward Flathers


The practice of publishing supplementary materials with journal articles is becoming increasingly prevalent across the sciences.

We sought to understand better the content of these materials by investigating the differences between the supplementary materials published by authors in the geosciences and plant sciences.


We conducted a random stratified sampling of four articles from each of 30 journals published in 2013. In total, we examined 297 supplementary data files for a range of different factors.


We identified many similarities between the practices of authors in the two fields, including the formats used (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs) and the small size of the files.

There were differences identified in the content of the supplementary materials: the geology materials contained more maps and machine-readable data; the plant science materials included much more tabular data and multimedia content.


Our results suggest that the data shared through supplementary files in these fields may not lend itself to reuse. Code and related scripts are not often shared, nor is much ‘raw’ data. Instead, the files often contain summary data, modified for human reading and use.


Given these and other differences, our results suggest implications for publishers, librarians, and authors, and may require shifts in behavior if effective data sharing is to be realized.

URL : The Journal Article as a Means to Share Data: a Content Analysis of Supplementary Materials from Two Disciplines


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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The Miracle of Peer Review and Development in Science: An Agent-Based Model

Authors : Simone Righi, Károly Takács

It is not easy to rationalize how peer review, as the current grassroots of science, can work based on voluntary contributions of reviewers. There is no rationale to write impartial and thorough evaluations.

Consequently, there is no risk in submitting low-quality work by authors. As a result, scientists face a social dilemma: if everyone acts according to his or her own self-interest, low scientific quality is produced. Still, in practice, reviewers as well as authors invest high effort in reviews and submissions.

We examine how the increased relevance of public good benefits (journal impact factor), the editorial policy of handling incoming reviews, and the acceptance decisions that take into account reputational information can help the evolution of high-quality contributions from authors.

High effort from the side of reviewers is problematic even if authors cooperate: reviewers are still best off by producing low-quality reviews, which does not hinder scientific development, just adds random noise and unnecessary costs to it.

We show with agent-based simulations that tacit agreements between authors that are based on reciprocity might decrease these costs, but does not result in superior scientific quality. Our study underlines why certain self-emerged current practices, such as the increased importance of journal metrics, the reputation-based selection of reviewers, and the reputation bias in acceptance work efficiently for scientific development.

Our results find no answers, however, how the system of peer review with impartial and thorough evaluations could be sustainable jointly with rapid scientific development.


Science Concierge: A Fast Content-Based Recommendation System for Scientific Publications

Authors : Titipat Achakulvisut, Daniel E. Acuna, Tulakan Ruangrong , Konrad Kording

Finding relevant publications is important for scientists who have to cope with exponentially increasing numbers of scholarly material. Algorithms can help with this task as they help for music, movie, and product recommendations.

However, we know little about the performance of these algorithms with scholarly material. Here, we develop an algorithm, and an accompanying Python library, that implements a recommendation system based on the content of articles.

Design principles are to adapt to new content, provide near-real time suggestions, and be open source. We tested the library on 15K posters from the Society of Neuroscience Conference 2015.

Human curated topics are used to cross validate parameters in the algorithm and produce a similarity metric that maximally correlates with human judgments. We show that our algorithm significantly outperformed suggestions based on keywords.

The work presented here promises to make the exploration of scholarly material faster and more accurate.

URL : Science Concierge: A Fast Content-Based Recommendation System for Scientific Publications


Obstacles to Scholarly Publishing in the Social Sciences and Humanities: A Case Study of Vietnamese Scholars

Authors : Phuong Dzung Pho, Thi Minh Phuong Tran

Publishing scientific research is very important in contributing to the knowledge of a discipline and in sharing research findings among scientists. Based on the quantity and quality of publications, one can evaluate the research capacity of a researcher or the research performance of a university or a country.

However, the number of quality publications in Vietnam is very low in comparison with those in the other countries in the region or in the world, especially in the fields of social sciences and humanities.

Employing both quantitative and qualitative approaches, the current study investigates university lecturers’ attitudes towards research and publication and the obstacles to local and international publication at one of the main universities in social sciences and humanities in Vietnam.

The study found the main barriers to publication are funding and time for research and publication, among many other obstacles. From the analysis of the data, the study would also argue that lecturers’ obstacles to publication may vary across faculties (or disciplines), ages, qualifications, education, research and publication experience.

The findings in this study may be applied to other institutions in Vietnam or in other countries where English is used as a foreign language.

URL : Obstacles to Scholarly Publishing in the Social Sciences and Humanities: A Case Study of Vietnamese Scholars


The Costs of Open and Closed Access: Using the Finnish Research Output as an Example

Authors : Jyrki Ilva, Markku Antero Laitinen, Jarmo Saarti

The Open Access movement in scientific publishing has been gathering momentum in the European Union and its member states, partly due to the policies of some of its main research funders.

Already we have seen encouraging research results on the effects of openness on the dissemination of scientific outputs. As business models of Open Access publishing are still under development, the aim of our paper is to assess the statistical tools and data that the Finnish libraries currently have for comparing the costs associated with different modes of disseminating scientific publications.

We will also analyse the potential costs associated with Open Access publishing models and compare them with the current cost structure of – mostly – paywalled (PW) access.

The discussion will include a description of current Finnish Open Access policies and their funding models. The financial analysis will be based on the statistical data found in the national Research Library Statistics database and the Finnish National Research Publications database, Juuli.

We will discuss the alternatives on how best to develop statistical tools to estimate the true costs of scientific publishing.

URL : The Costs of Open and Closed Access: Using the Finnish Research Output as an Example