Tagged / publication

Feedback, not failure…

Prof Alan Fyall, Deputy Dean (Research and Enterprise) in the School of Tourism, discusses the experience of receiving reviewers’ comments…

After nearly 15 years of publishing in peer-reviewed academic journals I am sure I am not alone in still living in fear of emails containing the “feedback” from editors and reviewers of journals about my papers. Over the years, the inconsistency of reviewers’ comments never ceases to amaze me, while the often unhelpful and sometimes down right rude tone of some reviewers does make me sometimes beg the question …. why do I bother? After a “time out”, however, often a period of two-to-three days, upon revisiting the comments advanced I often, albeit reluctantly, accept that the two or three reviewers have probably made some good comments and that, if I calm down and just adhere to the questions raised, will generate a paper far superior to the one I first submitted. This is not always the case but more often than not reviewers do actually provide very honest, fair and helpful comments in an attempt to improve the quality of submissions. Yes, they can sometimes be pedantic, over-emphasise their own contribution and state the obvious. More often, however, they will provide a critical overview of the broad theme of the paper and its rationale, the methodology and sampling, presentation of findings and conclusions drawn, as well as an overview of the way in which the paper is organised and presented.

My advice to old and new researchers is quite simple. In the first instance, take a deep breath when opening that email, read its contents and then leave for a while and avoid at all costs a hasty and reactive response that will only make things worse. Secondly, accept that editors and reviewers are only human (well, most of them) and that what they are communicating is their views and opinions which most probably do not concur with yours and more often than not will conflict with those of other reviewers. Thirdly, take all the feedback provided and take time in amending your paper and the reply to editors and reviewers that explains exactly what changes have been made in improving the quality of your submission. Where you still disagree be constructive in your explanation and offer further insights that the reviewers may have missed in their interpretation of your work. Finally, resubmit your paper and promise to yourself that you bear no grudges against the editor and/or reviewers as you can normally guarantee that at some point in the future they will once again review your work and remember the professional manner in which you dealt with their feedback the first time. For me, after 15 years of publishing I am still learning, still amazed at some of the comments I receive and am still ……. slightly nervous about opening that email; a fear which is unlikely to vanish perhaps as we continue to learn and learn from others in our respective academic publishing journeys

Prof Stella Fearnley’s research into audit committees

Prof Stella FearnleyProfessor Stella Fearnley’s research into audit committees has been published in a book titled Reaching Key Financial Reporting Decisions: How Directors and Auditors Interact (co-authored by Professors Vivien Beattie and Tony Hines).

Robert Hodgkinson – ICAEW Executive Director, Technical, said of the research: “This valuable new research found evidence that auditors challenge management frequently. There was no evidence to support the recent concerns about auditor scepticism or that auditors merely seek corroboration of management views.”

“Public discussion of corporate reporting and auditing is frustrated by the fact that directors and auditors debate issues and take decisions in private. The need to respect confidentiality means that policy makers and the public find insiders’ accounts of what happens bland and unconvincing. The resulting lack of public information is particularly dangerous at the present time when the financial crisis is prompting questions about whether new regulation is called for.”

“Through this book, Beattie, Fearnley and Hines present case studies that tell the reporting and auditing stories of nine  companies based on interviews with their finance directors, audit committee chairs and lead auditors. This research is required reading for anybody who has ever wondered what really happens in an audit.”

Congratulatons Stella! 🙂

You can buy Stella’s book on Amazon.

EPSRC goes for open access

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has announced that it is implementing a new policy to increase research data availability and accessibility.

Under the policy, from 1 September all EPSRC-funded research papers submitted for publication must be made available on an open access basis.  The council said in a statement on 3 June that the rules are not set in stone: it is up to each researcher to choose what approach or forum to use.

REF event 19 & 20 May 2011 – REGISTRATION IS OPEN!!

REF logoBU is hosting a two-day REF event on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 May 2011. All staff are invited to attend.

The event is of interest to BU academic staff and anyone who will be involved in the BU submission to the REF.

There will be three separate sessions:

Session 1
Thursday 19 May 9am-2pm
This session will be open to BU staff and external delegates.
There will be presentations from the REF team at HEFCE, REF impact pilot panel members, and a REF impact pilot institution (University of Plymouth).

Session 2
Thursday 19 May 2pm-5pm
This session is only open to BU staff.
This session will provide BU staff with the opportunity for internal networking, followed by a demonstration of BU’s new publications management system and a presentation on preparing a publication profile for the REF.

Session 3
Friday 20 May 9:45am-4:30pm
This session is only open to BU staff.
The focus of this session is the development of the BU impact case studies. There will be presentations of the impact case studies being developed at the moment.

All sessions will take place in Kimmeridge House and Poole House, Talbot Campus.

You must register separately for each session you will be attending.

See our previous REF Event blog post for further details. The provisional programmes are available on the registration forms (see links above).

REF event 19 & 20 May 2011 – SAVE THE DATE!

REF logoBU will be holding a two day Research Excellence Framework (REF) event on 19 and 20 May to which all staff are invited to attend.

Day 1 (open to BU staff and external delegates)
9am-2pm – this will be an external event supported by HEFCE to which all HEIs in the South of England will be invited. The focus will be on developing and assessing impact for the REF. There will be speakers from HEFCE, an academic from one of the impact pilot institutions (University of Plymouth), and some of the impact pilot panel members. The event is aimed primarily at academics likely to be submitted to the REF and UOA Leaders. It will provide a forum for networking and discussion around preparations for the impact element of the REF.

Day 1 (open to BU staff only)
2pm-5pm – There will be an opportunity for internal networking, a demonstration of the publications management system BU will soon be implementing, and a talk by Prof Matthew Bennett on building a publication profile for the REF.

Day 2 (open to BU staff only)
9am-4:30pm – the focus of Day 2 is the development of the BU impact case studies. The day will open with a presentation by Prof Matthew Bennett on what impact actually is, followed by presentations of the impact case studies being developed at the moment (3 per Unit of Assessment). These will run in 9 concurrent sessions with 4 presentations taking place in parallel during each session. The main aims of Day 2 are to get academics thinking about the impact case studies in a structured way, to identify resource requirements to maximise potential impacts, and the engage staff from M&C with the case studies being developed. In addition this is a great opportunity to showcase the excellent research that is undertaken at BU, to meet colleagues from other Schools, and to stimulate ideas for future research collaborations.

The event is free to attend but booking is essential. Booking will open next week – further details to follow!

RCUK Research Outcomes Project

In an effort to record the outcomes and impact of research beyond the end of a funded project, Research Councils UK (RCUK) have been developing a system to gather the relevant quantitative and qualitative evidence. The information collated will be an important part of the Research Councils’ strategy development, and will be crucial in demonstrating the benefits of RCUK-funded research to society and the economy.

Currently, the Research Outcomes Project remains on course to go live in summer 2011, although a full roll out may not occur until autumn. Grant holders will be required to provide information on the following output types:

  • Publications
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Exploitation
  • Recognition
  • Staff Development
  • Further Funding
  • Impact

The idea is for the system to allow outcomes to be reported at any point during the funding agreement and beyond, recognising that impacts from research are often realised some time after funding agreements have been completed.

The project team are engaging with users to ensure the system will be easy to use and aligned as far as possible with universities’ own research management information systems. A focus group of research managers provided feedback on the system, which is currently being built, and a pilot exercise is due to take place in August 2011.

BU is currently following the development of the Research Outcomes Project and will be looking at ways to help academics provide the required data in due course. In the meantime, please contact Anita Somner if you have any questions. To raise queries or concerns, or to make suggestions to RCUK, you can use the project email address: researchoutcomes@rcuk.ac.uk .

ERA journal ranking list

ERA logoFollowing on from Anita’s post on Journal Impact Factors and my post on Publications, I thought it would be beneficial to share the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Journal Ranking List which was published by the Australian Research Council (ARC) in 2010.

It is provided here as a guide to help you make informed decisions about the quality of the journals that you target.

RankingThe list provides probably the most comprehensive, expert opinion based list ever attempted, capturing numerous disciplines (science, social science, business, humanities, etc.) and over 20,000 journals. In this list, and as a broad translation, A and A* ranked outlets are judged to be the best; B is deemed pretty decent, and so on.

As with all journal ranking lists, this comes with the usual health warning: it’s “expert opinion based”, and thus subjective. As such, it’s an imprecise science, but perhaps a useful guide, especially for those BU disciplines without an equivalent UK quality guide.

You can access the list here – Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Journal Ranking List

Journal Impact Factors Explained

There is often some confusion around Journal Impact Factors in terms of where they come from, how they’re calculated and what they mean. Hopefully the following will provide a brief explanation.


What are Journal Impact Factors?
Journal Impact Factors are just one of a number of journal analytical measures that form part of an online resource provided by Thomson Reuters on their Web of Knowledge called Journal Citation Reports® (JCR), which covers journals in the sciences, technology and social sciences. JCR provides a facility for the evaluation and comparison of journals across fields within the subject areas covered.

Other publications databases may provide their own tools for bibliometric or citation analysis (such as Elsevier’s Scopus) but Journal Impact Factors are only found on the Web of Knowledge.

A Journal Impact Factor is the average number of times that articles from a particular journal published in the past two years have been cited in the JCR year.

How are Journal Impact Factors calculated?
Journal Impact Factors are calculated by dividing the number of citations to articles published by a particular journal in the JCR year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years. For example, an Impact Factor of 2.5 means that, on average, the articles published in that journal up to two years ago have been cited two and a half times. Citing articles may be from the same journal although most citing articles are from different journals.

The number of articles given for journals listed in JCR primarily include original research and review articles. Editorials, letters, news items and meeting abstracts are usually not included in article counts because they are not generally cited. Journals published in non-English languages or using non-Roman alphabets may be less accessible to researchers worldwide, which can influence their citation patterns.

How are Journal Impact Factors used?
Journal Impact Factors can help in understanding how many citations journals have received over a particular period – it is possible to see trends over time and across subject areas, and they may help when you’re deciding where to publish an academic paper. However, as with all statistics, Journal Impact Factors should be used with caution and should ideally be combined with other metrics depending on how they’re being applied.

Equally, a journal’s Impact Factor is not necessarily a direct indicator of the quality of an individual paper published in that journal. Some published articles never receive any citations, for various reasons, even if they appear in a high impact factored journal.

Journal Impact Factors and the REF
Some of the assessment panels will be provided with citation metrics as part of HEFCE’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) in some subject areas, which will help inform the panel members’ judgements. However, journal impact factors or equivalent journal ranking systems (e.g. the ABS list) will NOT be used at all within the assessment process.

Publication, publication, publication!

VC Jonty de WolfeIt was with mixed feelings that I settled down to watch the first episode of Campus last night. Would it be funny, would I get the in-jokes, would they mention research, or would it be too close to the mark and therefore too painful to watch? The main thrust of the episode saw Vice Chancellor Jonty de Wolfe pressuring English professor Matt Beer to write a best selling publication, as one of his colleagues in another department had recently managed, but unfortunately the professor was too distracted to comply. Replace distracted with another word (perhaps busy, unsure, pressured) and this may resonate a little better with BU.

Whilst Campus was far fetched and at times utterly ridiculous, the pressures on academics to produce high impact publications are very true, especially now as we are preparing for our submission to the REF. Rather than acting like tyrannical and eccentric VC de Wolfe, we’ve pulled together some sources of information for academics feeling the pressure of publication.

How to get published – The Times Higher Education have produced an excellent booklet – How to get Published: a Guide for Academics. The guide includes the seven chapters, written by experts in academic publishing, including advice and information on the publication process, getting your work into an academic journal, and how to turn your research into a best seller (I’m sure this last chapter would have been useful for the Professor in Campus last night).

journalsHow to get published in academic journals – The road to getting published in academic journals can be a daunting journey. There is a booklet published by PSA/Wiley-Blackwell called Publishing in Politics: a Guide for New Researchers which is an excellent introduction to publishing recommended for researchers in all disciplines, not just politics.

Professor Keith Dowding (LSE) has produced a couple of guides for those new to getting published in academic journals which are particularly useful. These were published in European Political Science and provide an overview of the journal publishing journey:

Individual journal publishers usually provide advice and guidelines for prospective authors – these can normally be found on their websites.

Open access publishing – BU has a central budget for paying for open access publishing costs. Read more here.

Do you have any advice on getting published that could benefit your colleagues? If so share it here by adding a comment to the BU Research Blog!

BU’s Open Access Publishing Fund to go live!

open access logo, Public Library of ScienceThe Senate R&E Committee has approved plans for a BU Open Access Publishing Fund. The fund is due to be launched in August 2011 and will be managed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) and the Research Development Unit. But what is the BU Open Access Publishing Fund and why is this such a big dea for Research at BU?

What is open access publishing? Open access publishing turns the traditional publishing route (readers paying subscriptions to publishers) on its head as researchers pay a fee to the publisher to publish their research and in turn the publisher makes the article available free of charge to readers immediately on publication.

Why is this beneficial? Open access publishing enables research findings to be disseminated to a wider public audience, typically with significantly faster publication times, than traditional journal publishing. The European Commission’s policy on open access publishing notes that the broad dissemination of research findings can accelerate scientific progress and has significant benefits to both the scientific community and to society.

What is the view of research funding bodies? Many funders require the research they fund to be made freely available, free of charge to any readers upon completion of the project. A full list of funders with open access requirements can be found on the Sherpa Juliet website, and includes all seven Research Councils, the European Commission, the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). These requirements have been put in place by funders to maximise the public dissemination of research findings. However, despite these open access mandates funders are reporting that researchers and therefore HEIs are not compliant; recent research undertaken by the Wellcome Trust indicates a compliance rate of less than 50%. An institutional open access publishing fund can increase compliance rates with funding body open access requirements.

How will this help our submission to the REF? Open access publishing has three potentially significant benefits for BU’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework in 2013:

  • Publication times – Papers can be published significantly faster than traditional journal publishing methods and therefore BU would not be as constrained by traditional publishing deadlines; more articles could therefore be published prior to the REF publication deadline and be eligible for submission.
  • Citations – Open access publications are more widely available and are therefore more likely to be cited.
  • Research impact – Open access publication is a way of enhancing the visibility and increasing the impact of research findings. Research findings made freely available to society at large are likely to have wider societal impact.

Do other institutions have open access funds? A number of international research institutions have already established institutional budgets and processes for open access publishing, such as the Max Planck Society’s Central Open Access Fund and the University of California Berkeley’s Research Impact Initiative. In the UK the University of Nottingham has led the way by establishing an institutional open access publishing fund.

How can open access costs be met? A number of funding bodies (such as the Research Councils and the Wellcome Trust) allow researchers to include open access publication costs as a directly incurred cost providing that the costs are included in the original costing and are incurred prior to the end of the grant. For all other open access publishing costs, researchers will be able to apply to the new BU Open Access Publishing Fund. Requests to the fund will need to be made to the Research Development Unit and will then need to be approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation) and the relevant REF UOA Leader.

When will further details be announced? We are currently working on a policy, process and communication plan and further announcements will be made via the blog before August 2011.

What about any open access requests between now and the end of July 2011? If you have any open access publishing requests before the BU Open Access Publishing Fund is launched in August 2011, please discuss these with your Deputy Dean (R&E) / equivalent and Julie Northam. Where requests are justifiable (i.e. high quality open access outlet, likely to be submitted to the REF, likely to increase the impact of the research findings, etc) then we will endeavour to accommodate these within the CRE budget where possible.RIN logo

For further information on open access publishing the Research Information Network published a guide to Paying for Open Access Publication Charges in February 2011.

Also see the Public Library of Science (PLoS) website.