The Dilemma of Journal Publication by djsgjg0045


  It is common knowledge that when writing a research article for a journal, certain
standard have to be followed and applied throughout the article structure and it 鈥檚
contents. In some cases, these kinds of rules may render the article understandable
only by those who are researching in the same field, and certainly not by the general
public. The 鈥榖 oundary 鈥?which can clearly separate important academic research
from the rest of the population is nothing but a self-imposed limitation, where society
as a whole has been artificially divided by those who demand these kinds of rules, i.e.
where only the highly qualified and knowledgeable may have access of understanding
to them. Authors, editors and publishers should publish the results of any research in a
style where it can be accessible to the man in the street, i.e. easy to read and simple to
understand, regardless of the background and the level of education of their readers.
In addition, these research articles should be always free to obtain, as well as the
ability to access them immediately after publication. In general, academic research
publications have not diverted their effort, yet, toward those vast reservoirs of
untapped readers, even though we see it happening these days on the Internet.
However, the majority of those websites who publish articles immediately, or within
few days, are doing it mainly for one purpose, i.e. to generate money from advertising,
usually via a 鈥榮 earch engine 鈥? rather than for the main aim of encouraging and
supporting intellectual activities among the general public.
  Editors who reject many articles, even if these articles contain excellent research, 鈥
榗 orrect 鈥?results, different scientific approaches and new ideas, in many cases do
so simply because they were not written to their own journal standard, which they
usually adhere to in all of their publications. This kind of approach can waste valuable
opportunities for the publishers themselves, as well as for the authors and the public,
as a whole. The question is what should the editors do? In many cases, editors do ask
authors to rewrite or edit the rejected articles, and, possibly, request to re-submit them
later on 鈥?in accordance to the standard and format they require. This kind of
approach will consume time and delay the publication of the newly obtained data. By
the time the work is ready for publication, in the eye of the editors, then, in some
cases the data themself will be out of date and, consequently, the whole effort and
time spent on the original research will be wasted. Authors Concerning authors, the
dilemma can be felt on at least three fronts. The first one is the time aspect, i.e. the
majority of the academic journals would take them on average six months before the
author 鈥檚 article appear as a hard copy and/or published online. This kind of
lengthy period is unacceptable, especially for new authors who would like to establish
themselves within their own research field before someone else approaches that
particular area (or idea) with similar conclusion and/or result(s). The second one is
related to the size of the article, i.e. the limitation imposed by the publishers on the
number of words (minimum and maximum), which is understandable; but do not
always serve a useful purpose. The rule should be in the form of how to put forward
the research outline and the result(s), mainly for the purpose of making it clearer to
the reader, rather than for lack or availability of space, i.e. regardless of the number of
words being used, as long as it make sense to the potential reader. The third front is
the need for reviewers, i.e. 鈥榩 eer review 鈥? which many publishers insist upon
before considering the work for possible publication. Reviewers are important aids for
the publishers and for the authors, but only when there is neutrality in their approach
to the subject matter and where they have a wider knowledge needed to critically
analyse and review the manuscript. Genuine constructive feedback from the reviewers
is a vital tool which can help the publishers, as well as authors, on how to deal with
the next step of the proposed publication.
  In some cases, authors can be in dilemma of what is best for their work, i.e. if the
comments made by the reviewers were either biased and/or wholly or partially
incorrect. In some cases, the demands made upon the authors may eventually prevent
an important work to reach the general public, simply because one of the parties
concerned, e.g. reviewers comment, editor 鈥檚 views, and publisher 鈥檚 hesitation
or demands, may prevent the publication of an important manuscript, directly or
indirectly. The loss from such prevention to the general public can be immense, in
particular to those who may have been searching for similar data and/or needed to
develop further this kind a work in a related field.
  The reviewers main tasks should be concentrated on the following points: 1.
     Comments on areas related to the strengths and weaknesses of the work 2.
     Comment on the quality of the author's data and his/her interpretation of it 3.
     Comment on strengths and weaknesses of the of the main message of the
manuscript, regardless of the main contents of the work 4. Comment on ethical
concerns 5. Comments related to the standards of the academicals research 6. The
author should be provided with constructive comments for the purpose of improving
the overall standard of the manuscript. 7. The comments should be always directed
toward the work itself rather than associated toward a personal opinion which the
author may have towards certain topic or field. 8. A reviewer 鈥檚 job is to provide
the editor/publisher on the decision of whether to accept or revise the manuscript. 9.
     Final recommendations should be based on the importance of the data/results
obtained rather on other aspects related to the presentation of the work itself
  Obviously, in the eyes of the editors and publishers, the rules have to be followed
and applied. This of course should not be their excuse to reject vast number of
manuscripts arriving to their desk, simply because just as it happened, that they have
been overwhelmed by them on a particular time and date. Again, the decision should
be made on the account of the type of work which has been carried out and/or the
result(s) obtained, regardless of how the work has been presented to them or the
language used. Having considered the above, the majority of publishers in their initial
main basic approaches for journal publication will check the following points:
  1. Examining common and basic mistakes such as spelling and grammatical errors 2.
     Fonts types used, spaces and margins 3.      Minimum and maximum number of
words used in the article/manuscript (point 1 鈥?3 are related to general instructions
to authors) 4.     Ethical Guidelines 5. Editorial approval of the article contents 6.
     External reviewer(s) comments 7. Possible date for publication, if the work
accepted initially
  Language and Copyright The majority of journals would only publish in the English
language. That means presentation in other languages, or even translated work, would
have fewer prospects of being published within the vast majority of international
research journals.
  The other aspect, which may concern authors, is that by submitting work for
publication the author copyright would be transferred, in most cases, to the journal
concerned. This may mean that an author may not be able to publish his/her work
elsewhere or later on, unless of course permission has been stipulated in this respect
within the original agreement/contract by the publishers themselves. The automatic
transfer of the copyright to the journals is a common occurrence, and that in itself
could limit the availability of the author materials to larger section of readers, across
the globe.
  Publication Date
  Some of the research papers can be published within a shorter period of time than
the normal expected time mentioned previously, i.e. possibly shorter than six months.
This can be related to the data itself and/or the importance of discovery/design which
has been accomplished. This is especially so if it is believed to be highly significant,
then short cuts have to be made by the publishers to speed up the process. However,
this is a rare occurrence, unless of course the author name has become a celebrity
within the researcher 鈥檚 community, academics, publishers and the general public,
as a whole. This kind of publicity could consequently generate higher profit and
further work, as well as publicity to whoever publishes their work even if the work
itself has very little value or below the normal standard the publishers adhered to.
  The simple solution in dealing with some of the issues mentioned above is to
consider always the overall benefit to the general public. It is suggested, therefore,
that a possible solution could be achieved by following the summarised approach
below. 1.      All kind of research, from no matter what source or how supposedly
difficult/complex the subject might be, should be written and presented in the form
where everyone will be able to understand the concepts, methodology and results. 2.
     Publishers, editors, reviewers all have duty to create the bridge needed where
their work, critics, comments and their publishing media, should be always directed
effortlessly in line with point 1 above. 3. The present available media, to the
majority of the general public and particularly in the form of access to the Internet,
should make the availability of new research publication (and their results) within few
days rather than within months. 4. Despite the English language being the main
language for the majority of global research and publications, that in itself should not
be the reason to reduce the demand (or limit the access) to those who have no
knowledge or little command of the above language, i.e. other languages should be
encouraged and supported. In contrast, it is for the benefits of the publishers that the
authors work should be produced in other languages as well, exactly at the same time
as being published in the English language. In certain situations, this could be
uneconomical approach for the publishers, however, the publicity which they will
gain and the feedback they may obtain from such multiple languages enterprise,
surely would compensate for any tangible losses which may occur. 5. The        overall
control of one party of the copyright, i.e. 鈥榳 ho own the copyright?鈥?can, in many
cases, be a barrier to the general public in accessing the new work, as well as
preventing any possible benefit which the work may provide to the rest of the society.
 Najib Altawell

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