1.2 RESEARCH FOR PUBLICATION
In the context of research publications, it is the nature and type of your research that will decide where your publication will be published. Your research work is central to your publications. Also, one particular research may produce several research outputs and therefore, several publications. The nature of these publications can be different depending on the nature of the journal and the audiences that you as the author would like to reach. You may like to share a work in progress in a conference to get comments on the peers, or you may like to publish a review article on related research on the topic of your study. It is also important that as research is carried out in collaboration with others, publications will follow the normal academic practices of sharing authorship with others. However, the type of publication, collaboration, where to publish the work, etc. will be decided by the research work itself. Therefore, we assume that you are working in an area of sufficient interest and potential for publication. Generally, to get published, you should follow a systematic approach. Of course, publication or not is related to the perceived quality of the work.
From the perspective of the publication process, there are five stages:
- Planning Stage
- Preparing Stage
- Pre-Publication Stage
- Publication Stage
- Post Publication Stage
1.2.1 Planning Stage
A research publication is a planned activity. While certainly aspects of research may be attributed to serendipity, publication is not a chance activity. Either you publish or you do not publish. In today’s world of publish or perish, it is not possible for any researcher to do research and not publish. Thus, it is important for you to plan your publications that you expect to arise out of your research work. The power balance in the research environment may not always favor a systematic approach to plan for publications, but having clarity about issues related to authorship, type of publication and where you want to publish would certainly help in improving the quality of your work.
- Authorship: It is not uncommon to see that authorship is determined by laboratory or departmental politics, where people with power and status decide who receive credits. However, in the interest of the research and ethical practice, it is important to decide the issue of authorship from the beginning, collaboratively. As authorship provides peer recognition and establishes credibility, it is important for any young researcher. However, many a times, it is decided by experience and seniority as to who will be named first in the publication. While different professional associations have guidelines for authorship, we recommend that authorship issues are decided early in the research work. As a general principle, one who prepared the first draft of the paper is given the first author, and should be the contact. Only those who have contributed to the manuscript significantly need to be given authorship credits. From the authorship issues, many conflicts in professional publications arise due to guest1authorship, gift2 authorship, and ghost3 authorship. The international Committee of the Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends that authorship be decided on the basis of the following four criteria4:
- 1)Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- 2)Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- 3)Final approval of the version to be published; AND 4)Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Thus, an author is one who demonstrates scholarship through conception, design, execution, and/or analysis and interpretation of data; writes/prepares the draft version, and/or critically revises the manuscript; and finally approves the intellectual content to be published. In a team work, role clarity from the beginning is useful. While different members may do different aspect of the work, each member takes responsibility for the whole of the work. However, who remains the primary contact is a matter of concern, and the general accepted ethical practice is that it should be the one who contributes the most to the work, in terms of scholarly contribution and preparation of the first draft.
- Type of Publication: Are you planning a review paper or a conference paper or a journal article? You and your group need to decide the type of the publication. If you are working on a big project, there may be possibility of many publications, including chapter contribution to books. Peer reviewed conference papers are used largely for sharing work in progress and receive comments from peers, while a review paper is largely to document the already published work and help educate others to understand the area of study quickly. Journal article provides relatively stable findings of your work. If your work covers several components that are separate but impact each other, you may like to view each of these for separate publications. Decision to write a paper or not is something that you as a research will make. However, its publication is a matter of its acceptability by peers.
- Choice of the Channel: The Channel here is the journal where your work will be most visible. However, every journal has its own scope (in terms of content), style, and periodicity that affect publication. It is said that writing should be integral part of the research, and you should not start writing after research. Thus, deciding on the journal, where you will submit your work for publication would help you prepare your manuscript following the format and standard of the particular journal. Where should your submit your paper for publication? The answer could be – (i) where it is easy to get published, or (ii) where the paper will have most visibility, or (iii) where it will be published early, or (iv) where it will fetch more prestige for the author/s, etc. You or research supervisor may also have a list of journals where you should publish. Thus, the reason for deciding on a particular journal could be many. However, it is importantly demystify some of the concerns related to publishing by your researchers. For the most peer-reviewed journals, the acceptance rate of manuscripts submitted is a matter of concern, as well as pride. Acceptance rate of peer reviewed journals range below 10% to about 70%. So, you may like to see the website of specific journals to understand where you have a better possibility of publication. The journal website will also help you to understand the focus of the journal and whether you should consider the same as an option. You may like to check the Journal Impact Factor or the Journal Ranking5 to decide the reputation of the journal and submit paper. Whatever, way you decide, it is important that you do not see publication as a short-cut method. It takes time to get published in peer reviewed journals. Normally, it takes about 6-12 weeks to complete the review process, and then actual publication depends on the periodicity and the carrying capacity6 of the journal to get your article published. Remember that publication is a serious work, and should not be considered as a quick print option.
During the planning stage, you should have at least some idea about the above important issues. Clarity about the journal is important for the next stage of preparation of the manuscript.
Preparing manuscript for publication is the most important stage in the life of a publication. While this is directly related to the nature of the research work, it is also about the rigour of your writing. We do not offer specific guidance on preparing manuscripts here. But indicate two issues for your consideration:
- Preparing the Manuscript: Once you decide where you would submit your work, it is important that you prepare your manuscript accordingly to the journal. Normally, a research paper should have clear title, a short abstract, introduction or statement of the problem explaining why, the research design, findings and discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices, if any. Even if you are an experienced writer, it is always a good practice to review the author guidelines given on the website of the journal. Particular attention should be given to the submission style, reference pattern, etc.
- Local review before submission: It is always a good idea to get local opinion on the style, as well as content of the paper from other colleagues before you submit the same to the Editor of a journal. Many a times, small errors, which are overlooked by our team, are identified at this stage and help in improving the quality of your manuscript. This also improves cooperation and possible collaboration in future.
1.2.3 Pre-Publication Stage
Once you submit the paper for publication to the journal, the pre-publication stage activity starts. Depending on the journals policy, this will take about 6 to 12 weeks or more. Important activities within this stage include:
- Acknowledgement of the submission
- Peer review and publication decision
- Revision, if any, and page layout preparation
- Copyright Transfer Agreement, if a non-Open Access journal
We will focus here on two of the activities to give you an overview of the publication process during this stage.
- Peer Review: Upon receipt of your manuscript, the Editor quickly makes an assessment of the worth of it to go for peer review. The editor decides who would be the suitable reviewer for the submission. Normally, the editor will have three situations – (i) accept, as is, (ii) accept, with modification; and (iii) reject. The peer review process is the backbone of scientific research and publications. It is voluntary work performed by scholars in all disciplines to help generation and dissemination of knowledge that are worthy, developed using a systematic and reliable approach. It controls standard in a discipline and help weed out works that are antithetical to the dominant paradigm. The peer review system makes the journals a reliable and faithful account of scientific progress. Normally a journal is either single blind review7 or double blind review8. However, the peer review process is also being questioned as time-consuming and non-transparent in a democratic and online world. Due to the advent of online systems more open ways to reviews are being adopted by journals regularly. From your perspective, it is important to wait for the comments of the reviewer and either defend your work or modify your manuscript suitably based on the comments received. While dealing with reviewer comments, give point-by-point response, provide well-reasoned arguments, give attention to details, including data, use careful language, and respect the comments of the reviewer and his/her time. If you receive a rejection notification, never get disheartened. There is room for improvement, and also there are other journals where you can submit your work. Normally, editors will also guide you what to do and where else to look for publishing your work.
- Copyright Transfer: Normally, this is the last stage of the publication process, where you are given the page proof of the article to review and read for final corrections, if any, and you are also asked to sign the copyright transfer agreement to enable the publisher to print the same and distribute. Now that you have studied and understood about the importance of Open Access to scientific and scholarly work, it is important for you to read the agreement carefully to know what you can and can’t do with your work, once it is published. Most publishers provide this information on their website and PDF of the Copyright Transfer Agreement is also available online. Do check the respective website. However, if you are not satisfied with this, you may like to send a signed Author Addendum9 to the publisher. This author addendum asserts your right to reuse your work in future and distribute the work through different means, including through websites and repositories.
1.2.4 Publication Stage
After several rounds of review, assessment, checking and proof reading, your work gets published in a particular issue of the journal. If the journal is also published online, some of the publishers do release an early online version of the paper/work, before the publication of the print version. This version of the paper is normally called the final or the recorded version of the work, which get noticed and cited by others.
1.2.5 Post-Publication Stage
In good old days once a research paper/article gets published, it used to be covered in indexing and abstracting sources, from where other researchers normally searched and accessed specific and particular publications. Today, in the world of digital technologies, and Internet, the scenario has changed, and the post publication stage is most important for the researcher to make an impact. Many researchers feel that they have done the work; it is for others to find the work and see how useful it could be to them. As research gets competitive and research grants scarce, it is important for every researcher to promote his/her work and share the finding with the stakeholders. If you are working in cutting edge technology, bio-medical and industrial areas, post publication stage becomes important. We suggest you to be pro-actively undertake the following steps to promote your work:
- Brief your university Public Relation Department to write a press release about your work
- Use social Media to promote your work.
We would emphasize here your use of social media, and provide you some tips on what you should be doing in the post publication stage of your research.