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Academic Publishing Is All About Status

As a young professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1940s and 1950s, Paul Samuelson made a habit of visiting the offices of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, then based at MIT, to look through the other economics journals that arrived in the mail. “I’d read every journal, every article,” he told me a decade ago. Nowadays, no economist would do this. For one thing, there are too…

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Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists’ Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication

The incentive structure of a scientist’s life is increasingly mimicking economic principles. While intensely criticized, the journal impact factor (JIF) has taken a role as the new currency for scientists. Successful goal-directed behavior in academia thus requires knowledge about the JIF. Using functional neuroimaging we examined how the JIF, as a powerful incentive in academia, has shaped the behavior of scientists and the reward signal in the striatum. We demonstrate…

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Journal impact factors ‘no longer credible’

Trickery by editors to boost their journal impact factor means that the widely used metric “has now lost most of its credibility”, according to Research Policy journal. With many editors now engaged in “ingenious ways” of boosting their impact factor, “one of the main bastions holding back the growing scourge of research misconduct” has been “breached”, the publication warns in an editorial. Click here to read more from this November…

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New AI program aims to improve how we search through science

When it comes to the body of scientific literature in existence, the world is suffering from information overload. There are now more than 100 million academic papers online and that number is estimated to be growing at a rate of nearly 5,000 new articles each day. According to one study, only half of those papers are being read by anyone other than the author and the editors of whatever journal…

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Academic Publishing Can’t Remain Such a Great Business

Publishers of academic journals have a great thing going. They generally don’t pay for the articles they publish, or for the primary editing and peer reviewing essential to preparing them for publication (they do fork over some money for copy editing). Most of this gratis labor is performed by employees of academic institutions. Those institutions, along with government agencies and foundations, also fund all the research that these journal articles…

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Open Access at a Crossroads

Last week marked the annual celebration/marketing event that is Open Access Week, and this year it seemed something of a mixed bag. Open access (OA) is growing into maturity, and has rapidly become integrated into the scholarly publishing landscape over the last fifteen or so years. We have now reached a point where experiments have been in place for a while and results can be analyzed. Early assumptions can now…

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Science Isn’t Broken

If you follow the headlines, your confidence in science may have taken a hit lately. Peer review? More like self-review. An investigation in November uncovered a scam in which researchers were rubber-stamping their own work, circumventing peer review at five high-profile publishers. Scientific journals? Not exactly a badge of legitimacy, given that the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology recently accepted for publication a paper titled “Get Me Off Your…

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Researchers Remain Unaware of Funding Agency Access Policies

According to a recent study, there are now more than 663 funding agency/institutional policies requiring public access to research papers. Last January I wrote about the unexpected consequences of these policies and the administrative nightmare around efforts to keep researchers in compliance. Nature’s recent “Author Insights” survey provides some new evidence of of the scope of the problem. Click here to read more from this August 20, 2015 Scholarly Kitchen…

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