Tag: publishing (page 2 of 2)

Open Access and IR Journals

Some time ago Thomas Rid had an amazing post arguing for an open-access revolution in our field. I won’t repeat the arguments here; you can read them for yourself. The open-access movement is showing signs of momentum. Indeed, at BISA/ISA in Edinburgh, a number of people agitated for open access for the Review of International Studies (RIS) at its relaunch event.

It seems that there are very few significant IR journals in a position to go open access. The obvious candidates would be journals associated with professional associations — in addition to RIS, that would include the International Studies Association journals, the European Journal of International Relations, and some others. But at least BISA and SGIR (soon to be EISA) use the revenue from the journals to support their activities. That leaves the independent foundation journals, such as International Organization, as the most likely candidates for moving to open access.

Open-access journals sustain themselves through some combination of subsidy and pay-for-publication. In essence, authors provide a fee upon acceptance if they want their articles to appear “in print.”It took PLoS — probably the most famous member of the open-access family — a number of years for revenues to exceed costs. I can imagine a lot of IR scholars recoiling at paying such a fee. The math suggests that their institutions (if they are associated with one) should be happy to fork over the money, as doing so is cheaper than subscribing to journals. But right now, at least, institutions already pay for standard IR journals, so the open-access journals represent an additional fee. This isn’t an issue if the institution is Harvard University, but it might be for smaller places — particularly if the fee comes out of cash-strapped Departmental coffers rather than scientific grants.
The graphic comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which, in 201, reported on a study highlighting the two biggest hurdles to open access:

A new survey of nearly 40,000 scholars across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences shows that almost 90 percent of them believe open-access journals are good for the research community and the individual researcher. But charges for publishing and the perception that open-access journals are of lower quality than traditional publications deter scholars from the open-access route, according to the Study of Open Access Publishing report, by an international team of researchers.

These concerns are likely to be a particular problem in IR. The aforementioned factors suggest that most open-access journals will be both digital-only and new. Given the field’s elitism concerning “journal hierarchy,” and its general conservatism when it comes to all things smacking of “web 2.0”, those are both significant barriers to success. I think it would be very difficult to ask IR scholars to pay-for-publication in an unranked, digital-only journal. While everyone knows this is the future, it isn’t clear how we will get there.

This reticence comes despite the fact that, if mid-tier blogs such as the Duck of Minerva are any indication, more people will read a given piece in an open-access digital journal than a typical one in a top-tier — let alone a second-tier — traditional journal.* Thomas Rid got access to the raw Taylor and Francis “most read”numbers and this is what he found:

These are, as Thomas notes, crude indicators. And blog posts are, in general, shorter and more accessible than academic articles. Still, they point to the advantages of ungated academic work, particularly if presented in the right way. It would be interesting to know the readership of the papers at e-ir, which might provide a better comparison.

Indeed, a few months ago PTJ and I had some discussions about starting a journal using a “non-traditional” model. We estimated our barebones costs at about ~$25k to pay for a graduate-student assistant, plus some unspecified amount to handle incidentals. Startup costs would probably run between $5-7K, and it would be best to have some money to subsidize undergraduate interns to help keep the technical side running. All of this assumes a journal that is, in essence, a labor of love. No money for course releases, travel and promotion, and all that other stuff. 

One idea was to publish volumes as e-books for .99$, but the economics don’t work and you wind up with a cheap, but still gated, product. The pay-for-play model would impose prohibitively expensive costs on authors, particularly in the context of a startup. And, of course, we both think that there are too many journals in the field already.

So the question remains: how to finance this kind of endeavor?

Still, there’s a certain attraction to the model.

An online open-access journal could firmly break with the tyranny of the quarterly volume. No more “online first” as an orphan, uncertain category. The editors simply need to keep the standards of the journal high — as reflected in quality and acceptance rate — and they can publish pieces whenever they are accepted and processed. Volume numbers would persist, but as temporal markers for the purpose of citation rather than as bundled artifacts.

Because the content would be ungated, it would be even easier to integrate the journal into a blogging and social-media environment than it would be for a traditional publication. One could build an intellectual community and ensure repeat visitors — and with them, greater likelihood that articles would be read and cited.

But, even if we could somehow come up with the funds, the experiment strikes me as pretty high risk. We would need to convince some high-profile scholars to provide quality pieces — ones good enough to survive rigorous peer review — to legitimize the endeavor. We’d need to convince reviewers to take it seriously. And there are a lot of other institutional barriers.

I guess what I’m talking about is, in essence, a Duck of Minerva journal, but (probably) with a less whimsical name. I wonder what our readers think of that?

*As I discovered while putting together a proposal for wrapping a journal in a webzine (see here for an example of poor implementation of a good idea) an undercount of the most-viewed pages at the Duck outdistances the download figures for the most-read piece at the American Political Science Review. And, as I alluded to earlier, neither KoW or the Duck are in the same league as Crooked Timber, The Monkey Cage, Steve Walt, Dan Drezner, or any number of higher-profile blogs. By the way, if any journal editors out there are interested in bringing me on to spearhead a web strategy likely to (among other things) increase your impact factor, contact me. 


What Exactly is the Social Science Citation Index Anyway?


Yeah, I don’t really know either. I always hear the expression ‘SSCI’ thrown around as the gold standard for social science work. Administrators seem to love it, but where it comes from and how it gets compiled I don’t really understand. Given that we all seem to use this language and worry about impact factor all the time, I thought I would simply post the list of journals for IR ranked by impact factor (after the break).

I don’t think I ever actually saw this list before all laid out completely. In grad school, I just had a vague idea that I was supposed to send my stuff to the same journals whose articles I was reading in class. But given that I haven’t found this list posted on the internet anywhere, here it is. I don’t know if that means it is gated or something, or if my school has a subscription, or whatever. Anyway, I thought posting the whole IR list would be helpful for the Duck readership.

But I have a few questions. First, why does Thomson-Reuters create this? Why don’t we do it? Does anyone actually know what they do that qualifies them for this ? And don’t say ‘consulting’ or ‘knowledge services’ or that sort of MBA-speak. The picture above includes some modernist, high-tech skyscraper, presumably to suggest that lots of brilliant, hi-tech theorists are in there crunching away big numbers (but the flower tells you they have a soft side too – ahh), but I don’t buy it. Are these guys former academics who know what we read? Who are they? Does anyone know? The T-R website tells you nothing beyond buzzwords like ‘the knowledge effect’ and ‘synergy.’ I am genuinely curious how T-R got this gig and why we listen to them. Why don’t we make our own list?

Anyway, I don’t really know, so I just thought I’d throw it out there. Check the IR rankings below.

More questions:

I am not sure if the SSCI and the Journal Citation Reports from T-R are different or not or what. Click here to see the SSCI list; and here is the JCR link, which is probably gated, but ask your administration; they probably have access. There are 3038 journals in the whole SSCI list (!), 107 listed under political science, and 82 under IR. There is some overlap between the last two, but the PS list does not completely subsume the IR list, as I think most of us would think it should. For example, IS is listed only under IR, not political science, but ISQ is listed under both, even though I think most people would say IS is a better journal than ISQ. Also, there is no identifiable list for the other 3 subfields of political science. I find that very unhelpful. More generally, I would like to know how T-R chooses which journals are on the SSCI and which not. It doesn’t take much effort to see that they’re almost all published in English…

Next, I thought the SSCI was only peer-reviewed, but Foreign Affairs and the Washington Quarterly (which I understand to be solicited, not actually peer-reviewed – correct me if I am wrong) are listed on the IR list, and even Commentary and the Nation magazine are on the PS list. Wow – your neocon ideological ravings can actually count as scholarship. Obviously FA should be ranked for impact factor; it’s hugely influential. But does it belong on the SSCI? Note also that ISR is listed on the IR roster, as is its old incarnation, the Mershon ISR. Hasn’t that been gone now for more than a decade? Also when you access the impact factors (below),T-R provides an IR list with its ‘Journal Citation Reports’ that has only 78 journals listed for IR, not 82. So the SSCI for IR (82) does not quite equal the JCR for IR (78). Is that just a clerical error? If so, does that mean the super-geniuses in the futuristic skyscraper are spending too much time looking out the windows at the flowers? I guess if you double-count M/ISR, you get 79, which is pretty close to 82, but given how definitive this list is supposed to be, it seems like there are problems and confusions.

2010 is the most recent year T-R provides a ranking, so I used that, plus the rolling 5-year impact factor. The ranking on the left follows the 5 year impact factor, not the 2010 one.

A few things leap out to me:

1. How did International Studies Perspectives rocket up so high in less than 15 years, higher than EJIR, RIPE, and Foreign Affairs? Wow. I guess I should read it more.

2. What is Marine Policy (no. 11) and how did it get so very high also?

3. Security Studies at 27 doesn’t sound right to me. We read that all the time in grad school.

4. A lot of the newest ones, at the bottom without a 5-year ranking, come from Asia. That isn’t surprising, as Asian countries are throwing more and more money at universities. That’s probably healthy in terms of field-range, to move beyond just Western-published ones.

5. Why haven’t I ever even heard of something like half of these journals? I guess we really are a hermeneutic circle – reading just the same journals again and again – APSR, IO, IS, ISQ, EJIR. That’s pretty scholastic when this IR SSCI list shows a rather interesting diversity I never have time to read. A shame actually…

Rank                 Title                          2010 Impact Factor      5-Year Impact Factor




INT ORGAN 3.551 5.059
2 INT SECURITY 3.444 4.214
3 WORLD POLIT 2.889 3.903
4 J CONFLICT RESOLUT 1.883 3.165
5 INT STUD QUART 1.523 2.427
6 INT STUD PERSPECT 0.719 2.344
7 EUR J INT RELAT 1.426 2.337
8 FOREIGN AFF 2.557 2.263
9 COMMON MKT LAW REV 2.194 2.071
10 J PEACE RES 1.476 2.036
11 MAR POLICY 2.053 1.961
12 INT J TRANSIT JUST 1.756 1.923
13 INT RELAT 0.473 1.743
14 JCMS-J COMMON MARK S 1.274 1.643
15 INT STUD REV 0.803 1.621
16 REV INT POLIT ECON 0.861 1.519
17 SECUR DIALOGUE 1.6 1.51
18 INT AFF 1.198 1.496
19 EUR J INT LAW 1.5 1.423
21 WORLD ECON 0.878 1.382
22 STUD COMP INT DEV 0.605 1.352
24 REV WORLD ECON 0.966 1.201
25 REV INT STUD 0.98 1.177
26 MILLENNIUM-J INT ST 0.727 1.084
27 SECUR STUD 0.766 1.065
30 AM J INT LAW 0.865 0.858
31 GLOBAL GOV 0.8 0.848
32 PAC REV 0.683 0.791
33 ALTERNATIVES 0.357 0.776
34 LAT AM POLIT SOC 0.34 0.731
35 STANFORD J INT LAW 0.6 0.727
36 WASH QUART 0.65 0.721
37 CORNELL INT LAW J 0.541 0.693
38 COLUMBIA J TRANS LAW 0.741 0.671
39 J JPN INT ECON 0.444 0.662
41 B ATOM SCI 1.057 0.632
42 INT INTERACT 0.258 0.622
43 SURVIVAL 0.472 0.615
44 EMERG MARK FINANC TR 0.444 0.558
45 INT J CONFL VIOLENCE 0.586 0.524
46 OCEAN DEV INT LAW 0.282 0.518
47 AUST J INT AFF 0.508 0.517
48 J STRATEGIC STUD 0.344 0.491
49 SPACE POLICY 0.308 0.381
50 MIDDLE EAST POLICY 0.219 0.309
51 ISSUES STUD 0.13 0.284
52 WAR HIST 0.265 0.262
53 KOREAN J DEF ANAL 0.304 0.261
54 CURR HIST 0.139 0.19
55 WORLD POLICY J 0.144 0.164
56 J MARIT LAW COMMER 0.244 0.15
57 INT POLITIK 0.017 0.042
58 INT POLIT-OSLO 0.013 0.024
59 ASIA EUR J 0.237
59 CHIN J INT LAW 0.206
59 COOP CONFL 0.868
59 J HUM RIGHTS 0.34
59 J INT RELAT DEV 0.429
59 J WORLD TRADE 0.398
59 KOREA OBS 0.292
59 N KOREAN REV 0.75
59 PAC FOCUS 0.459
59 REV INT ORGAN 0.971

Are IR Titles Getting Increasingly Boring? Evidence from a Data Set


Though scholars widely claim that they are capable of writing creative titles, there exist some notable skeptics. Resolving this debate requires empirical evidence. However, beyond a few anecdotes, no one has systematically tested trends in the mind-numbing dullness of IR article titles. I correct this lacuna through the use of an original data set containing eight independent measurements of the originality and wittiness of article titles. Using various statistical techniques, I find that, for article appearing in six leading journals between 1985 and 2005, titles are indeed becoming more boring over time. In addition to confirming a depressing decline in titular creativity, my study reveals two additional findings of significance. First, titles that take the form of “historical quotation: explanation of what the article is actually about” are only interesting for the years 1985-1995, after which they become extremely boring. Second, the most consistently insipid article titles consist of  a putative correlation expressed as a question followed by an independent clause alluding to a data set. My findings and research methods have important implications for the field, as I assert repeatedly in the body of this article despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


‘Bleg’: How Long are your ‘Revise & Resubmit’ Letters to the Editor?


I have been asked to revise and resubmit an article submitted for an IR journal. But it’s a big r&r; the editor even said it would be “a great deal of work” (groan). While I must make the changes to the ms, I must also submit a letter to the editors and reviewers to explain my changes. That’s normal of course, but I wonder how the community would appraise the proper length of a letter to the editor for a major r&r? In my last r&r, thankfully a minor, I wrote 2-3 pages. But for a major r&r that “needs a great deal of work’’, I was thinking around 10 pages. Is that too much? Would that you bore you to tears ? (Actually, don’t answer that.)

More generally, I think this is an interesting, undiscussed question for the field, because I have no idea if there are any norms at all on this. I can’t recall discussing this issue ever in graduate school (probably because I couldn’t have gotten an r&r anyway and didn’t even know what r&r meant). Nor can I recall seeing anything on this in all those journals we get from APSA (so many…). So whadda ya think?

Cross-posted on Asian Security Blog.



 How are pieces of research like eggs?  Well, I was having a fun conversation with a grad student of mine while we were dining in the aftermath of a workshop on failed states, and I was suggesting a potential research strategy.  The point I was trying to make is that you don’t want to waste your research.  At first, I was using bullets–but given our topics, violence, and given that bullets do not degrade over time, eggs made more sense.

The basic idea is that when you do research, you don’t always use everything you learn for a particular piece.  Indeed, one of Saideman’s rules of dissertations is that just because you learned something does not mean it fits in the dissertation.  Focus is important.  But if you learn stuff along the way that does not go into article x, you should use it for another publication.  Each article or book idea is an egg.  You can do different things with any egg–poach, scramble, omelet, quiche, frittata, use for cookies, french toast, etc.  So, an idea can be prepared in a variety of ways, and you don’t want to waste an idea by just leaving it alone and undeveloped.  An egg that just sits around on a shelf is not doing you any good.  Same with a research idea.  You want to crack it open, beat it, mix it with something (butter is usually a good idea), and bake it/fry it.  And, eggs, unlike bullets, will eventually become useless (rotten, smelly, etc.).  So, you can let an idea sit around for a while, but it may eventually become unusable.

I did not intend to learn much about Canada and failed states when I started my current project.  But, as I was poking around, trying to understand NATO and Afghanistan, a variety of questions and even some answers arose, including some involving a country I previously believed to be boring (ok, Canada is not always thrilling, but it has had a relatively interesting decade or so).

So, you can do a lot of different things with any hunk of knowledge–write a book, write a policy-oriented article, write an academic piece for a journal, blog about it, use it for teaching, whatever.  Just as an egg can be used in a variety of ways.  It depends on what appeals to one’s audience.  Making breakfast for oneself is different than making a breakfast for a family and different from making lunch for some friends, and so on.

As I have mentioned before, I am a big believer in portfolio approaches--publishing in a variety of outlets to get ideas across to a variety of audiences, maximizing visibility, impact, ego and also chances for employment, tenure, raises and the rest.  So, it may take some creativity and planning to figure out how to use each idea for optimal impact but it also depends on preferences.  I prefer French Toast to pancakes and waffles, but all are perfectly good uses for eggs.  Just try not to waste any eggs… or ideas. 

And, yes, I have beaten this analogy more than the average scrambled egg.


The Promise and Perils of Book TitlesBecause I’m Way Too Busy With the Start of the Term to Blog About Anything Useful.

Thanks to Erik Voeten, I have just discovered a fabulous blog, Better Book Titles:

This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

Some of my other favorites from the site:

the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime
the very hungry caterpillar, and
the elements of style.

And both Erik and Jeff Ely have a little more to say about the political economy of book titles, especially in academic publishing.

And Kieran Healy is collecting suggestions for a political science contribution to the Better Book Titles site, where Friday entries are submitted by readers. I’d love to come up with a snappy version of Dan Drezner‘s new Theory of International Politics and Zombies, which I’m supposed to roast at the International Studies Association Conference in March. [“I Am Too Funny For My Half-Eaten Shirt,” perhaps. Or “I Will Claim To Describe IR Theory While Completely Ignoring Feminism, Post-Colonialism and Critical Theory. Bwa Ha Ha!!”]

Add in your own suggestions for this or other books below.


The Political Economy of Journal Citations

I’m writing you from the ISSS/ISAC conference in Providence, RI, the yearly guns ‘n’ bombs gala thrown jointly by the Security Studies section of ISA and the International Security and Arms Control section of APSA.

Drawing a large crowd this morning was the roundtable on “How to Publish in International Security,” peopled by representatives from Stanford University Press, Georgetown University Press, the Journal of Strategic Studies and International Security.

Of course there were some standard nuggets of advice for aspiring scholars: 1) Make sure your paper is ready for publication first; 2) make sure you pick the right journal; 3) don’t submit to multiple journals 4) be persistent but polite in dealing with editors; and 5) beware of MIRVing:

“If you’ve put it out there on the Internet already we are less likely to see it as original work.”

But among these, the one that stuck with me was this point:

“Cite the journals you want to publish in.”

Now what caught my attention was not the suggestion but the rationale. It is not, Hoyt argues, because journal editors scan authors’ submissions or previous work for evidence of favorable citations but for a more mundane reason I wouldn’t have thought (and am still not sure whether I think) should enter into my citation practices:

“Journals depend on library subscriptions. Libraries are facing budget cuts and journals are a huge expense for libraries. As they decide which ones to cull, they consider factors like how often a journal is cited in the profession. Without library subscriptions these journals will simply disappear.”

The implication, aspiring writers, is that we should cite early, often and strategically in the hopes of maintaining diverse venues for our work. But whether or not this metric will make for the best scholarship who knows. Hoyt’s suggestion also implies that we should be using our libraries’ electronic journal resources rather than reading from our own subscriptions, so libraries can track our usage of specific journals.

But most of all, it’s also a healthy reminder that the political economy of our profession matters.

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