Publishing for impact

It has been a while. Yes.

But here is a link to a presentation on points for a publication strategy I gave a little while back for some 300 PhD students at our university. The presentation was titled “Publishing for impact”

Publishing for impact

View more presentations from Wouter Gerritsma.

If you are interested in the actual presentation than you need to have a look at the registration of the whole symposium on writing a world class paper, I start somewhere around 2:51.  The other presentations that afternoon were interesting as well. See for those presentations the news item in our newsletter.

Related Towards a publication strategy

Article impact and journal impact factors

In the scientometric literature we are very often warned not to use journal impact factors to judge the performance of researchers or research groups. For this statement I always refer back to Seglen (1997). Seglen showed that only 50% of the articles in three chemistry journals contributed to 90% of the citations to those journals, i.e. the other half of the articles only contributed to 10% of the citation impact. It is one of those illustrations of the long tail of scientometrics.

In my courses on citation analysis I point always to this fact, and elaborate on the use of journal impact factors in journal selection as part of a publication strategy. Choose the highest impact factor journals to submit your best work is a simple advice.

In the latest analysis by the NOWT of research performance in the Netherlands, my university is placed of the second division of Dutch universities ranked by citation impact. One of the points the report made quite clear was that the field corrected journal impact of the articles was far below the national average. Actually, it was only the second worst university in this respect, only Tilburg University feared worse. (NOWT 2008, table 4.5 on p.40).

I think there is a necessity to pay more attention to this fact at our university. In a informal citation analysis for one of our chair groups I am going to elaborate this point a bit further.

Relative impact versus Journal impact factors

If you look at the relative impact of their articles published the period 1998-2005 and the journal impact factors you get a large scatter diagram. If you want to draw a regression line, it seems a bit meaningless. The slope is just positive, but the R² is only 0.0048. The problem is of course that the relative impacts of the articles are far from normally distributed. The average of the relative impacts per article is 1.35, whereas the median is 0.92. Most articles have a relative impact below world average. If you calculate the average article impact for this group as the sum of citations divided by the sum of the baseline citations the relative impact is 1.28.

For me the picture became much clearer when I drew the lines for the median citation impact and the median journal impact. If you look at the articles below the median citation impact line, most articles are concentrated in the lower journal impact factor quadrant 36 versus 16. Of the higher impact articles most articles are concentrated in higher journal impact factor quadrant, 35 against 16. Actually those 35 articles were published in only 14 different journals.

Relative impact versus Journal impact factors with the median lines

Perhaps this research group should focus their publication output on those 14 journal titles, and stay away from the 21 journals associated with lower left quadrant. I found this approach quite revealing.

NOWT (2008). Wetenschaps- en Technologie- Indicatoren 2008. Maastricht, Nederlands Observatorium van Wetenschap en Technologie (NOWT).
Seglen, P. O. (1997). Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. BMJ 314(7079): 497-502.

Towards a publication strategy

This afternoon we had the opportunity to inform some of our participants in the Graduate School of VLAG on the procedures in the preparation of the external peer review which will take place next year. The first part of our presentation was, on my part, quite straight forward explaining the details of the bibliometric analysis which is part of the self assessment in preparation of the external peer review.

The second part of our presentation,  presented by Marianne, was much more speculative. Perhaps more interesting. It dealt with the opportunities to enhance your publication impact. There are no hard guidelines on this subject whatsoever. We had to strech our imagination to the limit, but I think we found quite a balanced set of rules to set out for our audience.

SlideShare | View | Upload your own

What’s in a name

In courses on citation analysis for research evaluation I always give stern warning to researchers not to change their names. That is most important nowadays since it has become fashion to publish on a first name basis. First names differ occasionally from given names and can lead therefore to confusion when evaluators perform a citation analysis for whatever purpose. The situation is always a trifle more  complicated  for female researchers.  Young aspiring scientist start publishing  with their own name. Later on in their career some of them opt to publish under their husband’s name. Not to mention what happens after a divorce.

Since citation analysis is seemingly easy to perform with more and more databases offering simple citation lookup options, researchers should be aware of the consequences of their, often sloppy or at least in consequent, habits of referring to their own names in scholarly articles.

In today’s newspaper (NRC 20080305) there was a very interesting article reporting on some research carried out at the University of Tilburg. In this research they experimented with the influence of the change of the woman’s name after marriage on their social career. Three different experiments were performed and all three of them showed unequivocally that changing names after marriage had a negative effect on their social careers.

So far so good. But what amazed me most was that 83% of the female students of Tilburg University (going for their MSc)  taking part in these experiments planned to change their names after marriage.  This  is apparently  about the national average.  Of the male students 81%  expected their future wifes to be to adopt their names.

I was under the impression that years and years of women’s lib would have solved this problem quite soon. How wrong I was.

Hattip: GS