lunchtalk #3 : key messages

Check out the main topics and tips 

1) Journal Impact Factor (IF)

The IF is a scientometric index, developed by Eugene Garfield which is calculated by Clarivate (presented in Journal Citation Reports) – Total number of citations in a given year by the number of citable items in previous two years. 

2) What are the limitations/challenges of IFs?

Journal IF can be manipulated or skewed by:

    • Number of papers published in a given year;
    • A few very highly cited papers;
    • Commissioning a large number of review articles which are generally cited more than original research papers.

The worst effect of IF definition is their use in hiring and promotion decisions for early-career researchers. Leading to a huge amount of pressure and in some situations perhaps researchers not picking the best suited journal, but one with a higher IF.

Early career researchers could benefit from listing different impact metrics for their work. Given that articles accumulate most of their citations within the second year of being published, views, downloads, altmetrics or highlighting collaborations with other institutions could add to your CV.

1) Traditional publishers

Before submitting your article, check whether the business model of the Publisher is transparent. If it is a subscription journal, check why they would be additionally charging any fees and when the article will be made available. Before you sign any documents, carefully read what the copyright license allows.

2) Open Access (Green, bronze and gold)

Regarding Open Access, it’s good to have a clear view of the APC model. Is the publisher transparent about how fees are allocated to editorial services, copyright licences, article indexation, to support scientific research, etc? Read over the copyright licencing carefully to understand your rights as an author.

3) Open Science in EU – Plan S or Coalition S

With the increased use of preprint servers, authors can also publish in traditional publishers as and retain their CC BY license in the preprint version. Most journals will offer a green open access model for authors to remain compliant with Plan S where open access costs can reach up to 8,000 USD. This also leads to another discussion point which is: “how much of this cost should fall on you as authors?”

1) Predatory journals

Tip to identify predatory journals:

  • Check whether their peer review process is transparent, is your paper being peer reviewed? Is the journal listed in DOAJ? Are they a member of COPE?
  • Ensure the journal has a website where you can see who is on the editorial board (are they leaders in the field?) and reach out to an editor to verify this is a reputable journal (and that they agreed to be on board).
  • Ensure published articles are indexed and have a DOI (digital unique identifier), what is the quality of these published papers?
  • Transparency on publishing fees, low fees are a red flag.

2) Self-Citations, coercive citations, ethical issues

If as an author you are subject to this, you should flag it to the journal.

For young career scientists, don’t hesitate to contact the journal office to understand what stage your article is in, especially if the process is not transparent. Picking a journal which matches the scope of your article can reduce the time for publication.

With the increase in number of publications and open access,  what about reinforcing the use of tools such as TOP guidelines
and RII (Resource Identification Initiative)
These are important initiatives and an increased focus on reproducibility, negative data, adequate data storage will be crucial (15,16).

For early career scientists, my suggestion is to first, at least check the journal is indexed, check whether the journal’s publications are of interest to you (aka, would you read this journal?) as you want your research to be disseminated to the right community. Secondly, check the scope of your article is within the editorial board expertise as this could help ensure a timely peer review and provide you with the most valuable feedback on your work from experts in the area.

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