Crane-kick that publication, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Who doesn’t love a sequel? Summer is a great time for them, isn’t it? (Reminds me… still need to get to How to Train Your Dragon 2…) Of course, some are better than others…

Last month I re-blogged a helpful little article with tips for getting published. This morning I saw that the author, a journal editor at the University of British Columbia, wrote a follow-up piece with some helpful advice. Since we’re at about the halfway point of the summer, a prime time for many of us to re-focus on our scholarship, it seemed prudent to pass it along. (And since the author references The Princess Bride right after the jump, you know she’s cool.)

So enjoy this follow-up from Kirsten Bellpublished in Vitae from the Chronicle.


Random Reflections on Getting Published


July 14, 2014

In my last article, I provided a handful of obvious tips for junior scholars on getting journal articles published. My aim wasn’t to provide a comprehensive guide to publication, but instead to highlight common (and easily rectified) issues that I see regularly as an associate editor of an academic journal.

But there’s more to say. So as a follow-up, I thought I’d offer a few random reflections informed by my work as an editor and my experiences as an author.

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Summer goal: Crane-kick that publication!

I’ll be blunt: my publication record is seriously so-so.That’s OK for now… after all, I work at a teaching-intensive college and get involved deeply in campus service and some administrative stuff. Those are my primary emphases, and I love that work. But I enjoy finishing a research project, especially when I’m proud of the final product. I’ve had some success getting book chapters and conference proceedings submissions published, but I’d love to get some more stuff in peer-reviewed journals. Sure it’s nerdy, but closing the deal on a publication always makes me feel like I’m Daniel LaRusso polishing off Johnny the Cobra Kai with a sweet crane kick.

There are a couple of projects that are nearly there, including one that, in a former life, experienced some serial rejection. That was a bummer. So as my summer school commitments wrap up next week, I’m planning on devoting a chunk of my summer — as are many of my fellow travelers, I suspect — to nail down a couple of writing projects and submit for publication. It’s officially summer starting today — for academics that are primarily teachers from September to May, ’tis the season!

So this blog post from Kirsten Bell, a journal editor at the University of British Columbia, published in Vitae from the Chronicle, is well-timed — and it has some sound advice. So let’s get cracking, summer scholars — after all, we’re the best around!


Research Associate at University of British Columbia


June 17, 2014

Need more publishing tips or support? Swap strategies at our On Scholarly Writing discussion group.

Anyone who has ever submitted a manuscript to an academic journal will likely have had some opportunity to reflect on the capricious nature of the peer-review process. Attempting to publish is, at best, a frustrating experience. At worst, it seems that banging one’s head against a brick wall would be more fun.

But let’s step aside from what’s wrong with academic publishing, important though that may be. Junior scholars need to get published, and they need to consider—pragmatically—how to go about doing that within the current system.

So is this the article where the illustrious academic at the end of a long career generously imparts her pearls of wisdom, Mr. Miyagi-style, on a new generation of academics? No. But I have experienced the publication process from a variety of perspectives: as an author, a reviewer, and an editor. Especially in the last role, I can’t help but notice that there are several errors I see again and again—the sort of things that make me shake my head (and bang it against my desk on occasion). So with this in mind, I provide some tips on getting journal articles published. As promised, they are obvious—really obvious—which is why it’s a little surprising that I see them ignored so frequently.

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Reblog: “Why I Decline to do Peer Reviews (part one): Re-reviews”

David Funder’s reflection on the pitfalls of peer review is worth a read and a thought or two… How many of us have been strung along thusly?


Like pretty much everyone fortunate enough to occupy a faculty position in psychology at a research university, I am frequently asked to review articles submitted for publication to scientific journals. Editors rely heavily on these reviews in making their accept/reject decisions. I know: I’ve been an editor myself, and I experienced first-hand the frustrations in trying to persuade qualified reviewers to help me assess the articles that flowed over my desk in seemingly ever-increasing numbers. So don’t get me wrong: I often do agree to do reviews – around 25 times a year, which is probably neither much above nor below the average for psychologists at my career stage. But sometimes I simply refuse, and let me explain one reason why.

The routine process of peer review is that the editor reads a submitted article, selects 2 or 3 individuals thought to have reasonable expertise in the topic, and asks…

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Just For Fun: What’s the impact factor of gobbledygook?

If you’re like me, you’ve occasionally read a research article in a respected journal and then asked yourself, “Huh?!? Was that written by monkeys on typewriters?” Evidence continues to accumulate that peer review is not necessarily a foolproof guard against nonsense in print.  In 1996 physicist Alan Sokal had his essay “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” published in Social Text, only to immediately reveal that his essay was an intentional spoof designed to reveal the potential for absurdity in radical cultural studies. The hoax sparked a firestorm in academia.

Now it appears that intentional nonsense is pervasive — at least according to this new article in Slate.

In 2005, a group of MIT graduate students decided to goof off in a very MIT graduate student way: They created a program called SCIgen that randomly generated fake scientific papers. Thanks to SCIgen, for the last several years, computer-written gobbledygook has been routinely published in scientific journals and conference proceedings.

According to Nature News, Cyril Labbé, a French computer scientist, recently informed Springer and the IEEE, two major scientific publishers, that between them, they had published more than 120 algorithmically-generated articles. In 2012, Labbé had told the IEEE of another batch of 85 fake articles. He’s been playing with SCIgen for a few years—in 2010 a fake researcher he created, Ike Antkare, briefly became the 21st most highly cited scientist in Google Scholar’s database.

The article goes on to discuss the implications of how the publish-or-perish imperative in academia might make such a farce less surprising than we expect, and why this is a problem. It’s a good read — check it out!