On academic publishing, bibliometric lists and other random bits

I wrote in this blog, for more a less four months ago, on my research project on open-source technologies realizing social networks and applications. I got surprised with the amount of feedback received even if to our TSEpustuksia is just beginning. I am very grateful to all colleagues that continued adding value to our wordpress blog (at expense of their valuable time ) and I am now wondering what to write about for my second post.

The  obvious, would be to describe further more my previous previous topic, that I am now “packing” as a Delphi study aimed to the International Conference on Open Source Systems, that is the number one conference in my research field. However, I been wondering and there been more interesting and emergent topics that I could write about:

First of all, I am concerned with the amount of “Apple-prising” research invading the academia. On Havard Business Review we find at least three “Apple-prising” published items. After reading this post from James Allworth raising so much discussion I wonder where the prestige of Havard Business Review can go. After a carefully reading Tilson, Sørensen and Lyytinen (2012) best-paper at HICSS45 plus Ghazawneh and Henfridsson (2010) at ICIS2010, I reflect that either the authors are biased (research on Apple sells as high as Ipads) or many of the unknown-secrets of managerial sciences are already behind Apple corporate doors.

An second topic would be, as someone concerned with citizens digital rights, on how different governments (Finnish included) so fastly passed the ACTA bill. An treaty on intellectual property enforcement that was initially disguised as yet another trade agreement and is now rising high polemic and protests among many EU countries.

This matters to researchers, because many of the publishers that we work with are constituent designers, promoters and negotiators of the SOPA, PIPA and ACTA bills presented to USA and EU governments for ratification. Moreover, this would have a lot of impacts on how universities would run virtual learning environments, OpenCourseWare and in-house publishing operations with new spread costs.

Even if I believe that those previous topics could deserve a space for discussion around our TSEpustuksia community, I decided to write about something more important, that might impact the day-to-day life of researchers in Finland: the bibliometric lists project, right now in production within the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies aka TSV.

Bibliometric lists are about publishing, one of the activities that most researchers must perform concurrently with other activities such reading, reviewing and teaching . As I got it from my supervisor, researchers get most of their sapienza by reading, but it’s what they write (publish) that most count to evaluation.

At middle of my doctoral studies I don’t know so much about publishing. But, as other doctoral students, I keep learning about it. First, by publishing few conference articles and a book chapter. However, besides the learning-by-doing,  there are many ways for a doctoral student to catalyze its knowledge on how academic publishing works. Some of the methodological courses help, reading essential literature, meeting editors, publication strategy seminars, etc, etc.

Outside our university setting, we can also learn interesting things about the academic publishing system, let’s take the example of the popular phd comic strips and from were I lent their comic originally published in 7/17/2009 from where I rip an explanation of the academic publishing contemporary business model.

It simply illustrates the business model of the reputed for-profit academic publishers such as Nature, Elsevier, Sage, Wiley, etc. Roughly explained, and using the roles of tax-payer, author, reviewer, editor and publisher it works like that:

  1. The tax-payer is, worldwide, the number one funder of research: He pays taxes and a small part is distributed to researchers at universities and other private/public bodies to do research that matters for society advancement.
  2. After performing the research work, researchers must share with the world their findings and contributions. He volunteers to send his paper for an academic publisher.
  3. Then the reviewers, also volunteers, perform peer-reviewing (an high effective quality control mechanism).
  4. The final word is with the editor. An well-reputed volunteer on the field will decide: ”to publish” or ”to not publish”.
  5. If the paper gets accepted, the publisher sends instructions to the author on how he must type/format his work before sending it for publication.
  6. Then the author transfers all the research copyright to the publisher by signing some form.
  7. The publisher then pack the paper on its website and sells it for-profit to the previous mentioned volunteers and other tax-payers for a max period of 50 years.

The good news is that in many fields such as physics, chemistry, math, medicine and computer science already abandoned this business model moving towards open-access. With the Internet after all, publishers need academics more than academics need publishers. However in our field, among others such as law, sociology and humanities, the score on the publishing game still depends on getting into the old reputed and expensive journals from the traditional academic publishers.

The governance of centralized bibliometric lists, as in the Finnish case by the Ministry of Education, can be used to orchestrate where researchers should publish their work. They can either make a favor to the traditional publishers (to get a good performance bonus you must publishon this and that reputed journal) that I believe was the case in Australia and USA. Or actually to empower senior-academics to decided where the youth should publish working-around publishers established power (to get a good performance bonus you can actually publish in this new non-generalist and domain specific open-access journal) that I believe was the case in Norway.

Curious on all this, I decided to make two simple exercises. I first took the list of the TOP20 generalist journals on my Information Systems field (some from traditional for-profit publishers and others behind intuitions or professional associations) and checked how they are considered in the new Finnish bibliometric lists. In a second iteration,  I remade the same but within my specific area of expertise assessing how the Finnish bibliometric lists consider both the top journal and top conference in my field of open-source research.

The Finnish bibliometric lists groups publication serials in 3 levels (1-3). The level 1 covers the central publication channels of domestic and foreign origin that meet the criteria of scientific publication channel. The level 2 covers the leading scientific publication channels, in which the researchers from different countries publish their best research.

Each panel rates to the level 2 at most 20 % of the journals and series belonging to its area of research. This share is calculated from the number of publication channels on the panels list. A panel may also choose to classify 25% of the level 2 journals and series in its list to level 3 to mark out the world top publication channels in its field.

Resuming: 1 is acceptable,  2 is good,  3 is academic gold.

”Top” Information Systems journals

AIS Journal ranking Finnish level (13) Norwegian level (12) Danish level (12) Indexed by Thomson-Reuters WoK? Indexed by Elsevier Scopus? Open-access journal? 1 year online-subscription retail-price
1 MISQ 3 2 2 yes yes no 1000 USD
2 ISR 3 2 2 yes yes no 395 USD
3 ACM 2 2 2 yes yes no 120 USD
4 MS 3 2 2 yes yes no 804 USD
5 JMIS 3 2 2 yes yes no 995 USD
6 AI 3 2 2 yes yes no 3022 EUR
7 DSI 3 2 2 yes yes no 409 EUR
8 HBR 2 2 2 yes yes no 106 EUR
9 ITI 2 1 1 yes yes no 630 USD
10 AIM 1 1 1 yes yes no free*
11 EIS 2 2 2 yes yes no 764 GBP
12 DSS 2 2 2 yes yes no 1317 EUR
13 CS 2 2 2 yes yes no 29.95 USD
14 I&M 3 2 2 yes yes no 957 EUR
15 ATD 3 2 2 yes yes no 214 USD
16 TSE 3 2 2 yes yes no 156 USD
17 ATI 3 2 2 yes yes no 172 USD
18 CSS 3 2 2 yes yes no 2759 EUR
19 SR 2 1 2 yes yes no 69 USD
20 AIS 1 1 2 no yes no free*

(*) Free for members of academic associations: AAAI and AIS

”Top” journal and conference on my field of research

AIS Journal ranking Finnish level (13) Norwegian level (12) Danish level (12) Indexed by Thomson-Reuters WoK? Indexed by Elsevier Scopus? Open-access pub? 1 year online-subscription retail-price
First Monday 1 1 2 no yes (via DOAJ) yes free
ICOSS NA NA NA no no no free for conference participants
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About jaateixeira

Jose Teixeira is currently a doctoral candidate at the Information Systems Science department of Turku University. He worked and studied across many EU member states. He studied in Oporto University, IAE Aix-en-Provence, Turku School of Economics and Tilburg University, studying topics on computer science, information systems, management and economics. He also worked in the Industry for reputable companies such as Wipro, Tesco and Nokia. His research addresses the open-source software phenomenon from different economical point-of-views. More information on the researcher and its academic activities can be found at www.jteixeira.eu