PSA on Journal selection

Academic trainees should not be publishing in journals that do not yet have Impact Factors. Likewise they should not be publishing in journals that are not indexed by the major search database (like PubMed) used in their field.

43 responses so far

  • odyssey says:

    And if all PI's agreed there would be almost no one left to publish in new journals. Which would kill them off. Which would end journal proliferation. Brilliant!

    At least until the big publishing houses buy out all remaining journals they don't own...

  • And yet another rule should be to encourage all forms of publications while reminding folks that demonstrated impact is the golden currency.

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    Seems like a self-limiting prophecy. But one that most would agree with nonetheless.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    yet another rule should be to encourage all forms of publications while reminding folks that demonstrated impact is the golden currency.

    Yeaaahhhh, no. Trainees should not compromise their careers to advance open access and/or antiGlamour wackaloon agendae

  • DrugMonkey says:

    there would be almost no one left to publish in new journals. Which would kill them off.

    I'm never very clear on the rationale for starting new journals....I mean, beyond market poaching by big publishers, that is. and this latter is if anything against the interests of scientists

  • qaz says:

    If trainees don't publish in new journals, who will? Are there really that many PIs who publish papers without their trainees?

    There is a big difference between publishing in a journal without impact factors and one not in PubMed (or appropriate field equivalent).

    Impact factor is an imperfect measure of impact. Some new journals without impact factor still have high impact. What matters is whether your paper is cited and recognized and known. I had a post-doc who got several faculty offers (at NIH-chasing research-based schools) primarily from papers published in new open-access journals that didn't have impact factors at the time.

    But publishing in a journal not going to be listed in the pubmed (or equiv) database is just stupid.

  • odyssey says:

    I'm never very clear on the rationale for starting new journals....I mean, beyond market poaching by big publishers, that is

    Doesn't each new -omics deserve its very own journal?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Doesn't each new -omics deserve its very own journal?

    I hate you just a little bit.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    What matters is whether your paper is cited and recognized and known.

    As an aside, this thought was triggered during a discussion with someone who is applying to some funding agency that requires listing the IF of journals on the CV/biosketch *and* listing the average IF of journals in the relevant subfield.

  • odyssey says:

    I hate you just a little bit.

    My work here is done.

  • Dave says:

    funding agency that requires listing the IF of journals on the CV/biosketch

    Nice to see that the anti-IF/ant--glamor push is working nicely 😉

  • Travis says:

    What matters is whether your paper is cited and recognized and known.

    As a trainee, of course I aim for journals on Pubmed with a good IF. But sometimes you submit to several of those and for whatever reason no one wants to publish it. If I've gone to the trouble to write it up, I'd much rather publish it in a low-end journal than have it sit in a desk drawer. This is especially true if there is very little extra time/effort required to submit to the low-end journal, or if the main complaint against it's publication in a higher journal is that it contains null/confirmatory/unsexy findings, rather than big fundamental problems with study design. It doesn't look as good on my CV as a nice high IF journal, but I have to think that it's better than no citation at all.

    I've been involved with a few systematic reviews, and you do come across some very useful papers in some very random journals that are not indexed on Pubmed. So I'd like to make sure that my results are published somewhere, in some form, so that they are at least available to people down the road if they are willing to look hard enough.

  • zb says:

    I really want to know how they're handling the publication issues in other fields. Anyone have a cite (or anecdotes from friends who are physicists, chemists, etc.? I know there's quite a bit of variation within subfields in biology (especially when we broaden into life sciences in general). But, is my feeling that the system is different, more open, less dominated by publishers, less susceptible to unthinking reliance on secondary indicators (i.e. impact factor) correct? If so, why? Is the field that much smaller, thus more dominated by reputation within the field (and, potentially, the dark side of no method of breaking in through grants/publications, but set based on who you know)?

  • drugmonkey says:

    Travis- I agree that for most of us there is no downside to publishing in a humble journal, it doesn't subtract credit. But for some bean counting situations maybe this is unwise. Particularly early in the career if you know a major funding source requires it, or it is standard hiring practice in your country or something like that.

  • Alex says:

    I work at the interface of physics and biology, and I admit to publishing in a new journal pre-tenure. However, it was Biomedical Optics Express, what DM would call a "society journal", and it was an offshoot of an existing journal (Optics Express) with a good reputation. It seemed like a pretty safe bet, given the people that I'd already seen publishing in there. It didn't harm my tenure case.

  • Mike says:

    I'm never very clear on the rationale for starting new journals....

    because there are more scientists now

  • pyrope says:

    What about book chapters? Where do you think they fall in the spectrum of stuff worth writing?

  • drugmonkey says:

    "low"

  • arrzey says:

    Trainees, you wackaloons, TRAINEES!11!!!

    You, as professor can publish in any damn journal you want. But if you are serious about supporting and getting your trainees into jobs then they need to be in accepted journals. They don't have to be Glamour Journals, but they should try for that solid second tier.

  • Arseny says:

    New journals (peerJ, F1000 Research) have a right to try entering the market. And not only because they are cheaper, but mostly because they seem to be willing to experiment with new types of peer-review process. Which is a good thing.

    And as, indeed, no PI publishes without their trainees, said trainees should have an option to publish in these not-yet-impact-factored journals. Once they are in PubMed of course. (Even though with Google Scholar working so nicely, we are not as dependent on PubMed these days as we used to be)

    And in any case, at first new experimental journals would have to accept orphan data, negative data, descriptive papers, and alike. Papers that will be either published in these cheap new journals, or won't be published at all. And only once the journals have built an impact factor of, say, 3 (in my field - Neuroscience), they will start getting "normal papers". So even if they fail, it should not be impact young scientist's careers too much.

    I agree with you however that stupid "fake" journals should be excluded from this process. I got my PhD in Russia, and published my PLOS1, or maybe Frontiers-level papers in journals that nobody reads. They were published ~5 years ago, and did not get a single citation since then, which means that from scientific point of view my work doesn't exist! Even though they were either written in English, or translated into English. I think it was really a shame, and almost a crime, that my PIs did not push a bit further, and settled on publishing in these journals nobody reads and nobody cites. It is an extreme example probably, but still a real one.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Friends don't let friends publish in Elsevier journals

  • qaz says:

    Travis writes: "If I've gone to the trouble to write it up, I'd much rather publish it in a low-end journal than have it sit in a desk drawer. "

    ABSOLUTELY! My advisor used to say that "Nothing exists until its published." If you publish it in a low-end journal, I might miss it, but if you don't publish it, I will never find it. (And if you do publish it in a low-end journal, then you can send it to people when they ask you about it and they can cite it. )

    DM writes that it might be unwise. I respectfully disagree with DM on this one. (:

    In my experience, publishing in a low-end journal is always better than not publishing at all. It might not help you much. But in my experience something small is better than nothing.

    The only way in which it might be unwise is if it precludes publishing something bigger later in a better journal. But then we're into the very complex game of how much to put into each paper and how much to take the small prize now vs taking a gamble at a larger prize later, which is a whole different question.

  • drugmonkey says:

    qaz-

    Note I said "for some bean counting situations". Like where they are going to average your JIFs either formally or informally. Sounds like this might be what iBAM is up against...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Arseny-

    I'm not disputing the right of new journals to launch at all. Just saying that it is better, all else equal, for trainees to adhere to tradition as much as possible.

  • eeke says:

    A pubmed search on a particular topic brings up papers from both glamourmags and shitty journals alike - usually in the order of publication date. I don't think it's possible to sort search results by impact factor (in PubMed). That would seem stupid and un-scholarly. A good trainee should have enough papers that one published in a new journal should not be a ding on their record. In fact, one of my friends did this, and that particular article is by far his most successful (in terms of citations), several times more so than any that he has since published in glamourmags. I agree with the rule with respect to PubMed indexing, but not with the one that zero IF journals (particularly new ones) should be avoided. The article should speak for itself, not the journal.

  • drugmonkey says:

    ...and when you do something a bit out of the box, do it with understanding of risks and an idea that there is a benefit.

  • drugmonkey says:

    What "should" happen in the evaluation of scientific chops and what does happen are very different matters, eeke.

  • Confounding says:

    "New journals (peerJ, F1000 Research) have a right to try entering the market." - journals do not have "rights".

  • Dr Becca says:

    Early into my post-doc, I wrote an invited review for a non-PubMed-listed journal. It hadn't even occurred to me to look, I was just really excited to be asked. I don't regret it at all. It nicely filled that post-graduation gap in my CV, and my name (and picture!) appears in the hard copy of the journal alongside at least 3 extremely well-known players in my field. I have never had anyone comment in any capacity that it "doesn't count" because it's not listed on pubmed. There are about a gajillion neuroscience journals--I'd imagine anyone who sees it on my CV will assume it's one of the many low IFs whose names all basically sound the same.

  • I dunno, I'm quite proud of publishing in BMC Genomics as a postdoc, before it had an IF (but after it was indexed - I wouldn't have submitted to a non-indexed journal). Mind you, the reputation of BMC's existing journals reassured my PI that the IF would eventually be a good one (now at 4.073. The paper in question has eight citations, three of which appeared in the first two years after publication). It was the first open access paper from my lab, and I set a trend - we went on to publish in the second ever issue of PLoS Genetics, and PubMed seems to show a roughly 50-50 open access vs paid access publishing rate ever since.

    "Yeaaahhhh, no. Trainees should not compromise their careers to advance open access and/or antiGlamour wackaloon agendae"

    You realise that not every trainee's career objective is to secure a tenure track position, yes?

  • rs says:

    All these advises doesn’t make sense in the era of google searches and gazilions journals from each publication house in each sub sub sub field. Not to forget the bean counters in hiring committee who don’t have time to go through each article and its details on a CV, but rather count the number before moving it to the next round. The only advise could be to look at your data, and try to get high IF journals first before giving in to low tier journal.

  • Namnezia says:

    I agree that it is better to publish than not publish, but first priority for a trainee should be to publish in a respectable, traditional journal. Then, if this fails, go for new journals, but never something that is not indexed in PubMed (for life sci obvs). Sure you can find things with google, but PubMed remains the standard for people searching the literature. Who the hell uses Google Scholar to search for pubs? Half of the stuff that it finds is complete junk or repeated results.

  • Laurent says:

    "PubMed remains the standard for people searching the literature."

    Only for medecine or molecular/biochemistry/physiology orientated biology. In fields involved in organismal or evolution/ecology, Pubmed is definitely not the best source for litterature as it falls short of journals. This is quite a strong limitation.

    "Who the hell uses Google Scholar to search for pubs?"

    I do. Complementary to ISI-wok, you may find papers available from other e-sources than their respective publication journals (e.g., reprints from Lab websites). This is especially interesting when availability of journals is weak due to library funding shortages (not every country is able or even willing to offer the highest access to litterature to their scientists, and this includes archive access when papers are older than 10 y. --which is fair age for ecological papers, or even young for some botany papers).

    "Half of the stuff that it finds is complete junk or repeated results."

    So is botanical stuff just junk? (Okay, this is trolling. Or maybe not. Google scholar is able to trim duplicates and does it relatively well, so you were unnecessarily snarky).

  • anonymous postdoc says:

    Someone whom I do not care for nevertheless imparted an important pro-tip to me, when I observed them submitting their non-pubmed indexed journal publication to pubmed via PubMedCentral. It is now searchable in pubmed by authors and keywords and a "Free PMC Article" to boot.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Great tip!

  • Arseny says:

    Namnesia, Laurent:

    exactly: most evolution journals aren't in pubmed. As soon as I wish to make a cross-species comparision, I have to go out of Pubmed, as most of this platypus / anteater neurobilogy is not indexed in Pubmed. So I go to GoogleScholar (because it's easier to use than WebOfScience / Scopus, and because it has this most amazing "cited by" feature easily accessible).

  • poke says:

    I'll put in a good word for google scholar. I've realized recently that I'm relying on it more and more to find highly relevant work that's not on pubmed. It might be field specific at this point, but I definitely find more than just 'complete junk or repeated results.'

    I'd recommend that people set up a google scholar profile. It will show up as a result when people google your name, and clicking on it reveals a list of your publications, sorted by how many times they've been cited. It's fascinating to browse profiles of people I know and check out which of their papers are most cited (and which ones not so much). The results can be surprising...

  • DJMH says:

    Re: odyssey:

    Exposomics!!!!!!

    I hope you're pleased.

  • Dave says:

    I use Google Scholar and...wait for it......Google itself......a lot. It's awesome. Pure snobbery on the part of those who claim they don't use it.

  • odyssey says:

    DJMH,
    Ummmm, no, not really.

  • CE says:

    Like Becca, I also agreed to write a review without understanding that the relatively new journal (despite being a new journal in a prestigious journal line) would not appear in PubMed.

    Unlike Becca, I regret it. I wrote a beautiful review on a very complicated topic- I wanted it to be very educational and easy to understand, and it turned out so well. But no one can find it! While helpful to have another line on the CV, unless your CV is sparse or, like Becca, you are interested in filling a gap, I don't see how it's worthwhile. We should be writing for impact.

    But that doesn't mean I agree with Drug Monkey's point. Writing for impact is different than writing for a journal with a labeled impact factor. The former does not necessitate the latter.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Candid! You still exist!

  • VeeCee says:

    I have a question from my supervisor here... not sure if anyone can help? If a new journal (open access) does not survive and "goes under" will whatever is published there still be searchable in PubMed, even if the journal no longer exists?

    Thanks in advance for any help/advice here!

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