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Researchers who want to publish their study findings to their respective fields need to remember an important point: Not all publishing venues are created equal. Savvy scholars can negotiate the world of academic publication to ensure their work is presented in high impact venues. Learning how to publish one’s studies in quality journals or professional publications is an important part of establishing a respected reputation for research and scholarship.
Making certain that the publication venues we select contribute positively and significantly to our disciplines is central in building our reputations as researchers and scholars. Knowing a little bit about the different terms used in academic publication can help emerging and veteran researchers navigate the academic publishing environment.
Self-publishing can take several forms: through social media, such as blogging, tweeting, online conversations with academic peers, webpages like LinkedIn, or even Facebook pages on a topic or website development; or through the self-publishing of a book, monograph, or article. While some forms of self-publishing might play an important role in a scholar’s life through providing service to the public in publishing works of scholarship (i.e, controversial ideas teaching and learning, discovery, integration, and application), with vanity presses, the effort can be more troublesome. In academia, self-publishing or vanity press publication is not a preferred path, especially for scholarly research, applications of scholarship, or academic text books. There are several reasons as to why self-publishing or vanity press is not preferred, the most important being that there is a major concern with self-publishing or vanity press publications not conducting a rigorous peer-review a confident, expert publisher. Another reason is that there are little to no proofreading or editing services connected with self-publishing, so fact checking errors or copyediting problems exist. Fact checking errors can be a source of embarrassment for a serious scholar and may impact the scholar’s reputation if serious enough.
Some vanity presses will try to take advantage of academics by marketing themselves as a reputable publisher. Examples of these are CreateSpace, Reflective Thinker, and Words of Wisdom. Vanity publishing commonly require payment up front for publication and expects that the author will market and distribute the book or monograph as well as assume publishing costs. This is a good indicator of a vanity press, which should be avoided. Policies for author royalties and book promotions should be easily accessible and clear.
Scholarly publishers are university presses (i.e., University of Minnesota, Oxford University Press, MIT, Southern Illinois University Press, among others), as well as high-end academic publishers, such as Wiley, Routledge, W.W. Norton, Elsevier, SAGE, Basil Blackwell, and similar publishers. Many of these publishers also publish academic journals, both in standard peer-review and open access journals. These publishing venues maintain rigorous peer-review processes and publication through these presses is considered to be appropriate for scholars in an academic discipline. See the explanation of academic (scholarly) journals below for guidance.
There are some very good resources available for researchers who want to know more about publishing quality scholarly works in journals. Please refer to the Reference section to build your personal library in this area.
Academic journals are peer-reviewed/refereed publications dedicated to scholarship in a specific field of study. Articles that appear in academic or scholarly journals often are opportunities for researchers to advance or to offer new research ideas or areas. Criticism or critique of existing research ideas in the field is also common in academic or scholarly journals. The purpose of academic or scholarly journals is to illuminate knowledge for a discipline and not as a moneymaking venture. Top-tier academic publications may have article acceptance rates below 15%, and frequently the peer-reviewers’ responses are focused on addressing weaknesses in the submission to ensure a high-quality journal article (Joireman & Van Lange, 2015).
Altmetrics. Altmetrics is a shortened form of alternative metrics, such as article views, download counts, social media mentions or Tweet meters, reader meters, and citation analysis guides. Altmetrics provide researchers, publishers, grant funders, and librarians with information about the impact an article has on a discipline’s readership.
Impact Factor. A journal’s impact factor measures the average number of citations a paper receives in recent articles published in a specific journal. The quality of journals within a discipline is often generated by the journal’s impact factor, or how many citations of published articles in the journal were received. Impact factor is one consideration for establishing the importance of an academic or scholarly journal in a particular discipline or field of study. Impact factors are properly used to rank a journal, not a researcher or a college or university. Like publishers, not all impact factors are created equal. Thomson Reuter and Scientific Journal Rankings are established and credible impact factors while the Global Impact Factor does not meet standards for academic rankings.
Reputable open access scholarly journals outline practices that remove certain types of barriers to academic authors, such as shorter peer review periods, shorter publication times, no-fee or low fee-based publication payments, and free access to published papers. The original intent of open access journals was to provide lower research costs and faster publication turnaround for professors on the tenure and promotion track, as well as more democratic access to knowledge. However, in recent years, open access journals have become controversial in some academic fields. Open access scholarly publishers vary in quality, and those who are interested in pursuing open access publishing should look to PubMed, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), and PLOS ONE.
Predatory open access publishers have certain characteristics that distinguish them from reputable open access publishers:
Other external educational resources (none of these are a deciding factor for funding or awards, though they are taken into consideration):
Belcher, W.L. (2009). Writing your journal article in twelve weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Cummings, L.L. & Frost, P.J. (1995). Publishing in the organizational sciences. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Joireman, J. & Van Lange, P.A.M. (2015). How to publish high-quality research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Lambert, N.M. (2014). Publish and prosper: A strategy guide for students and researchers. New York: Routledge.
Liebowitz, J. (2015). A guide to publishing for academics: Inside the publish or perish phenomenon. New York: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Neal, E. (2013). Academic writing: Individual and collaborative strategies for success. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
Norton, L.S. (2009). Action research in teaching and learning: A practical guide to conducting pedagogical research in universities. New York: Routledge.
Thyer, B.A. (1994). Successful publishing in scholarly journals. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.