Please join us on April 13, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT to discuss our new research on the publication patterns of senior scholars relative to their colleagues. We explored journal articles, conference proceedings, books, and chapters in edited volumes across academic age cohorts – the work has been peer reviewed and is in press, join us for a preview of the results!
AARC researchers are delighted to see our recent article “Who’s writing open access (OA) articles? Characteristics of OA authors at Ph.D.-granting institutions in the United States” discussed by the scholarly community, and we hope our findings contribute to the greater open access project and its goal to democratize the research literature. Here’s a link to the article. Recently, for instance, journalist Benjamin Plackett published an article in Nature Index discussing inequity in open access publishing (click here to read the article). The article is concise and informative, including interviews and quotes from scholars (including AARC Director Anthony J. Olejniczak).
We’ve also noticed that the discussion about our article on social media has largely been about only one of the two major findings our article presented: publication of open access articles with article processing charges (APCs) “appears to be skewed toward scholars with greater access to resources and job security.” We also think this an important finding, but we urge readers to interpret the result in the context of our other major finding: that publication of anyopen access article (regardless of APCs) follows the same pattern, albeit to a slightly lesser degree if APCs are not involved.
There is an important conversation happening in the academy and publishing industry about APCs (see, e.g., a recent report on Diamond Open Access) – whether APCs should exist, and if so who should pay for them. We at AARC strongly support moving to a model that makes publishing and reading free for authors and readers, respectively. But we also feel it is only one piece (a big piece, certainly, but only one) of the inequity puzzle in open access publishing. Even when green and bronze open access articles are included in our regression model, inequities persist. Here’s figure 4 from our article, showing the exponentiated coefficients from our regression model predicting the number of open access articles authored including all (not just APC) open access authorships:
Figure 4 from Olejniczak and Wilson (2020): https://doi.org/10.1162/qss_a_00091
Clearly APCs act as a barrier to some, further entrenching extant inequity in the academic publishing sphere, but it should not be lost in the discussion that all forms of OA exhibit a similar pattern. Clearly there is work to be done not only in terms of the cost and economic model, but also towards the more equitable adoption of OA of all types.
The next AARC webinar will be on April 13, 2021 at 1:30pm EST, about the publication outputs (journal articles, books, chapters, and conference proceedings) of senior scholars relative to other age cohorts. A preprint is available while the paper is in the peer review process, we hope you’ll join us!
Academic Analytics matches a huge number of honorific awards (10,000+) to individual scholars in the American academy. AARC researchers recently began digging through this data trove, and some summary statistics by discipline offer a glimpse into the deeper patterns we’re investigating. We started with academic department faculty lists for the 2019/2020 academic year. We then matched national or international awards (no state or local awards) bestowed upon those academics between 2017 and 2019, and created a table showing the number of awards won per faculty member in each discipline (the table can be sorted, and it’s paginated – only showing 10 rows at a time):
Agricultural/Biological Engineering and Bioengineering
Agronomy and Crop Science
Architecture, Design, Planning, various
Area and Ethnic Studies, various
Art History and Criticism
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Biological Sciences, various
Biology/Biological Sciences, General
Biomedical Sciences, General
Biomedical Sciences, various
Chemical Sciences, various
Classics and Classical Languages
Communication and Communication Studies
Communication Disorders and Sciences
Composition, Rhetoric and Writing
Computer and Information Sciences, various
Consumer and Human Sciences, various
Criminal Justice and Criminology
Curriculum and Instruction
Educational Evaluation and Research
Educational Leadership and Administration
English Language and Literature
Environmental Health Sciences
Family and Human Sciences, various
Foundations of Education
French Language and Literature
Geological and Mining Engineering
Geology/Earth Science, General
Germanic Languages and Literatures
Health Professions, various
Health Promotion, Kinesiology, Exercise Science and Rehab
Health, Physical Education, Recreation
Higher Education/Higher Education Administration
Human and Medical Genetics
Human Development and Family Studies, General
Humanities/Humanistic Studies, General
Information Technology/Information Systems
International Affairs and Development
Italian Language and Literature
Management Information Systems
Mass Communications/Media Studies
Materials Science and Engineering
Medical Sciences, various
Near and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures
Oceanography, Physical Sciences
Oncology and Cancer Biology
Oral Biology and Craniofacial Science
Performing and Visual Arts, various
Slavic Languages and Literatures
Social Sciences, various
Social Work/Social Welfare
Spanish Language and Literature
Speech and Hearing Sciences
Teacher Education Specific Levels
Teacher Education Specific Subject Areas
Theatre Literature, History and Criticism
Urban and Regional Planning
Veterinary Medical Sciences
Sorted by the number of awards per faculty member (ascending), the fewest awards per person tend to be in humanities fields (theater, languages, etc.). At the other end of the list (sorted descending), the greatest number of awards per person tends to be in engineering disciplines, with some exceptions: Agricultural/Biological Engineering and Bioengineering, Consumer and Human Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, Applied Physics, and Chemical Engineering.
It’s fascinating to see the distribution of honorific awards, but it calls into question how representative the data are – in other words, its possible that Academic Analytics happens to capture more awards in engineering than in humanities due to a previously unrecognized collection bias. It’s also possible that there are simply more awards available to engineers – maybe there are more scholarly societies who bestow awards in engineering fields? In any case, it’s clear that honorific awards, for which there exists no equivalent of a standard metadata description or widely-accepted unique ID number (such as DOI) should be interpreted in the context of both availability and potential collection biases.
We advocate the use of honorific awards as a post hoc indicator of research excellence (and sometimes precursors to research excellence, in the case of honors bestowed upon early career researchers), but we also caution that they are not as uniformly distributed nor standardized as bibliometric data or data about research grants. Our research is leading us towards creative solutions to these issues, and we welcome your thoughts.
The rise of preprints leads to many new research questions, including that asked by Pagliaro (2021) in a recently published paper in the journal Publications: do manuscripts change substantially between preprint posting and the final, peer-reviewed version of the article? Following in the footsteps of scholars who studied this question in Physics and Biological Sciences, Pagliaro studied a small sample of Chemistry articles, finding “the differences between preprints and the corresponding articles published after peer review are small.”
The implications of only “small” changes to preprints as they wind their way through the editorial and peer review process raises questions about the institution of peer review (also discussed by Pagliaro). There are also important implications for bibliometric and scientometric data aggregators (including Academic Analytics), however, who typically include “peer-reviewed” as a criterion for including a scholarly research artifact in their databases (effectively precluding preprints from having a role in the research strategy and planning exercises that are carried out based on these databases).
On one hand, including preprints in bibliometric databases necessitates substantial additional investment in disambiguation and data merging. The preprint (which often has its own DOI) eventually needs to be linked to the final published version of the paper so the same research output is not recorded as two artifacts of research (or at least so the end user can identify that the same manuscript resulted in two artifacts) rather than “double-counting” the manuscript. There are also cases where preprints never result in a peer-reviewed journal article; in these cases, counting preprints among the number of publications for an institution/department/scholar may incentivize the production of preprints for which the author has no intention of ultimately putting the ideas or results through peer-review.
On the other hand, excluding preprints from bibliometric databases signals that preprints are not valuable enough to be considered among the other artifacts produced by scholars (“value” here meaning the purported value conferred through the peer review process). Clearly this is not a fair characterization of preprints, which have tremendous value. With the efficacy of peerreviewincreasinglycalledintoquestion, it may be time for bibliometric database providers to mobilize resources to solve the problems of “double-counting” and what to do with preprints that never make their way into traditional journals.
We are eager to hear your thoughts on preprints and whether (and how) bibliometric databases can include them to more fully represent the research outputs of scholars.
Pagliaro M. Preprints in Chemistry: An Exploratory Analysis of Differences with Journal Articles. Publications. 2021; 9(1):5. https://doi.org/10.3390/publications9010005