“School of Authors” is a website from Comunicar, Scientific Journal in Education and Communication, indexed in main international data bases, that complements other websites in Spanish, English and Portuguese. “School of Authors” is written and edited, basically, by the Editorial Board of “Comunicar” and it aims to offer different sources, for manuscript submissions in scientific journals in a planned and strategic manner. It is intended to make authors think about scientific information management for publishing scientific manuscripts in high impact journals.
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References as quality criteria of an article

Posted on March 15th, 2020 by Ana Pérez-Escoda– Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

The hallmark of a good researcher is the attention that he/she pays in detail in all elements of his/her research. This equally consideration of all sections of a manuscript cultivates good habits that will result in optimal results. The preparation of an adequate, extensive and up-to-date bibliography focuses on the entire research procedure, furthermore, it helps scientific thinking and analysis and contributes to improving research results.

According to the American Psychological Association in its 7th Edition of APA Standards (2020):

The references suppose the guarantee to achieve academic excellence and the only guarantor to ensure the impact of the published work.

References are allusions to the works of one or more authors on topics related to the research presented, which are collected in an orderly way at the end of the manuscript and whose presentation format may vary according to the regulations that the publication accepts. However, we can find different styles for the references depending on the discipline:

Sciences: ACS  (chemistry), AIP (physics), AMS (mathematics), Harvard (biology and environmental); Law: APA, UNE-IsSO 690; Economics: Harvard; Education: APA; Humanities: Chicago (history, art, music), MLA (philologies); Medicine: Vancouver; Polytechnic: IEEE; Psychology: APA

Indicators of the value of references

Quality. In this sense, the references used in an article will show the quality of the manuscript. Detailing primary sources and those published in impact magazines (WOS and SCOPUS), indicative of the degree of knowledge of the author in the subject matter studied, will avoid a feeling of lack of awareness. Therefore, the references included in a scientific article are its cover letter, the science in which it is endorsed to seek scientific progress.

Academic legitimacy. Lack of references may be interpreted by an editor or reader as a sign of intellectual laziness, inbred thinking, or lack of knowledge. When references are included and sources are cited correctly, there is no doubt in this regard. An excellent bibliography shows a mature, exact and expected scientific knowledge in a scientific manuscript and from a legitimate author in one area.

Updated content. This indicator is related to the interest aroused in the topic discussed in recent years (references from the last five years are normally valued). Variety, in this sense, is highly recommended, in addition, the preponderance of the references of an author or authors that suggest self-promotion, self-plagiarism or selective citation of works whose conclusions agree with those of the author should be completely avoided.

Rigurousness. The academic objectivity of the result, undoubtedly depends on the degree of demand and rigor. Two fundamental features drive this aspect: the consistency of the references that are demonstrated if they are primary sources, and, the relevance, that is, the suitability of each reference with the subject matter. The rigurousness with which the bibliography is constructed will reveal an author widely read and, therefore, legitimized in the field of study.

Impact. The references give the author the echo and, therefore, knowledge of his/her publication to all those authors that he/she has cited, which is in his scope as a researcher who also contributes to the field of study. Alternative metrics tools as well as academic networks are, without a doubt, the best allies to extend the impact that the publication of a new manuscript provides to the author (Google Scholar, ResearchGate, AcademiaEdu).

@aperezescoda

 

 

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Authorship: How many people sign, who and in what order?

Posted on March 9th, 2020 by Rafael Repiso– Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

Addressing authorship is a complex issue on which a thesis could be written, as the uses and practices have been changing throughout history and currently diverge between different scientific fields. That is why this entry only intends to undertake a general introduction focused on the field of Social Sciences. In this post we will focus on answering three questions, how many sign, who should sign and in what order. We will not remember the advantages of working in a team.

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Is the number important? Of course, the numbers are palpable reflections of reality and can be interpreted. Should there be a closed number of authors for each work? No, as the utopian socialists would say “To each one according to his/her needs” (the needs of the article, it is understood), that is, the complexity of the work is the main element that justifies the number of people who have carried it out and therefore signed . However, caps have been established for scientific evaluations. For example, in areas where the work comes largely from the author’s reflection (Philosophy, Law, etc.), it is usual for the work to be performed alone, both research and writing. In other areas where working with large teams or even interdisciplinary and international research is very common, the number of signatories can go to hundreds of jobs, this is common in areas such as Applied Physics, Astrophysics, etc. In Social Sciences it is frowned upon that the co-authorship exceeds the four authors.

So what is the proper number? Well, as we said at the beginning depends on the complexity, what can justify the difficulty of a job? Basically three issues; 1. the size and characteristics of the object of study, 2. the multiplicity of theoretical and methodological disciplines from which the research is addressed and of course 3. the final length of the work. There is a very interesting article by Nicolás Robinson and Carlos Benito Amat in which they analyze the meaning of the sense of the limitations in the number of authors imposed by the evaluation organizations and do so with data, showing how the articles with the greatest scientific impact usually have a number of authors above what is allowed (Robinson-García and Amat, 2018). By the way, if you still want to know what is normal in each field, there is a very interesting product from the Google Scholar division of the EC3 group in which you can consult the basic descriptions by areas, journals and years. Co-Author Index http://www.coauthorindex.info/layout.php?id=inicio

Who should sign a paper?

A work must be signed by everyone who has made a substantial contribution to it, whether in the process of searching for data, analyzing or writing results. Of course, every author who signs a scientific work must give his / her approval to the final work and his/her position in the group of co-authors. There are figures which, having collaborated, do not have to sign, since they have been paid for that collaboration (translators, laboratory technicians, etc.). Also, when a third party makes a specific and determined contribution (a review of a specific section, a theoretical or methodological clarification) it is common to review this help in the “Acknowledgments” section, an example may be to thank the reviewers of the work if they have made an improvement to it. Be very careful with the imposition of ghost authors by some of the co-authors (especially those who hold academic power). This is a source of problems in the short, medium and long term that does nothing but fills the university with useless people who say they are experts in jobs that others have done.

In what order to sign? (Of each according to their abilities). The meaning of the order of the signature varies according to the areas. For example, in the area of ​​Mathematics the order of the signatures is limited to an alphabetical criterion, therefore, the attribution of the value of the work is distributed equally between each author, since mathematicians take great care not to collaborate with other researchers unless it is essential. Social Sciences have endorsed the uses of Biomedicine where the order of the authors implies different roles and workloads in the development of the article. Therefore, in this system the positions reflect the role of each of the authors and the order the involvement in the work:

First author: He/She is the main author of the document, normally the one who has had the idea and has developed it in all phases of the document, the one who has coordinated the work of the other authors and is usually the one who has done the complete writing of the document, adapting the contributions of the others.

Last author. Sometimes the last author is the most established scientist of the group, project manager, director of the first author’s thesis, etc. His/her work is that of final reviewer before the manuscript is sent, normally the proposed work is that of a project led by him/her.

Other authors. According to the involvement they have had at work, they appear, first those who have worked the most or have performed substantial functions. It would be a simplicity to quantify work according to the number of hours spent (as utopian socialists do) without taking into account aspects such as complexity or creativity.

Punctual collaborators. Those who have collaborated in isolated and specific aspects of the research can be included in the “Acknowledgments” section without having been involved in the whole of the research or the writing of the manuscript, especially if their collaboration was remunerated.

Of course remember that Robinson-García, N. and Amat, C.B. (2018). Does it make sense to limit scientific co-authorship? There is no inflation of authors in Social Sciences and Education in Spain. Spanish journal of scientific documentation, 41 (2), 201.

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The importance of the section “Materials and methods” in scientific articles

Posted on March 2nd by Luis M Romero-Rodríguez – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

Materials and methods

Materials and methods is maybe the most important heading to evaluate the general quality of any research dissemination product, since it is the one that explains to the readers what procedures, approaches, designs and treatment we have carried out in the research, which will allow us to replicate the studies, understand the linearity between the approach of the objectives and the results obtained, determine their suitability and relevance, as well as evidence of any bias in the way in which the study was designed and carried out.

Obviously, the way in which this section is usually written changes depending, on one hand, on the scientific discipline, but on the other – and to a large extent – on the editorial and norms of the publication (see guidelines of Comunicar Journal). There are even different ways of writing this section if it is an empirical investigation or a more analytical study (art states, based theory, etc.). However, the way in which the research was conducted should always be clearly and neatly stated in the text, as this is what will allow us to understand first-hand the design, scope, data collection techniques, sample and sampling strategies, intervals of the study, among other aspects that contribute to give objective value and reliability to the results obtained.

In this line, the selection of materials and methods will depend in first place on the objectives of the investigation and the hypotheses (if any), as these will initially determine:

  • The type of research: documentary, field, semi-experimental or experimental.
  • Research design: Quantitative, qualitative or mixed.
  • The scope of the research: Exploratory, descriptive, correlational, explanatory or predictive.

Likewise, the materials and methods section explains the techniques that have been carried out, always justifying them according to the objectives and citing previous studies that have determined their scientific validity. In this sense, the most common in Social Sciences is that the techniques are organized according to the objectives, although some disciplines usually declare them in order of importance.

One of the most common ways of exposing the sub-sections of this heading is as follows:

  • General aspects of the research: type, design, and scope. The dates or intervals of the study are also usually identified.
  • Sample: individuals participating in the study or elements that make up the sample (documents, spaces, etc.) and inclusion/exclusion criteria. Sampling strategies and techniques (probabilistic or non-probabilistic). Statistical validity and accuracy of the sample (confidence, a margin of error, etc.).
  • Instruments: Explanation of the instruments used for data collection, variables, dimensions, indicators, their design, construction, validity, and reliability; as well as the justification of the suitability of it for the scope of the objectives set. It must also be stated at this point how the data collection procedure was performed.
  • Data processing system: Development of the database, software used for data collection (eg Survey Monkey, Google Forms …), systems used for data processing (eg SPSS, R, AtlasTi, MaxQDA …). Many times authors are asked to make the database (and even codes) available to readers and/or reviewers in an open repository such as StackOverFlow or OpenICPSR.
  • Ethical aspects: Some publications require researchers to declare compliance with ethical research standards in this section (for example: ethics committee, informed consent, information processing, among other details to identify the care with which has treated the sample).

As the “materials and methods” section is the explanatory and justifying intermediary of the processes that occur between the objectives and the results obtained, under no circumstances may results be exposed that were not evidenced through the declared techniques. In this regard, readers and reviewers are very grateful that the results are presented in the order in which the objectives and methods were explained, in order to follow an ordered sequence.

 

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The structure and process of a good review

Posted on February 23rd, 2020 by Mª Amor Pérez-Rodríguez – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

One of the main keys to success in a scientific journal is the review procehttps://comunicarautores.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/search-1355847_960_720.png?w=734&h=566ss. Therefore, the Board of Reviewers plays a fundamental role in the quality of the publication. Hence, a level of qualification in the subject and an experience in the process of validation of the work sent in the manuscript is required. Although it has detractors, the peer review system is a good way to authenticate and evaluate the research.

Not only do editors help make decisions about the articles that come to the journal for publication, they also contribute to the improvement of the manuscript with the suggestions, comments and arguments raised by the reviewers. In this sense, each reviewer undertakes to perform a critical, honest, rigorous, constructive validation / evaluation without biases or subjective perceptions. This review implies an in-depth reading and an estimate of the quality and scientific solvency, as well as the style of the written function.

The review process can be considered from various options, highlighting:

  1. Review by single blind pair, so that the names of the reviewers are hidden, but they do know the name of the author. This anonymity allows an impartial assessment and can also facilitate being more critical or demanding.
  2. Double-blind peer review, in which both the reviewers and the author are anonymous. This model assumes greater objectivity. Not getting to know the author is more difficult bias. It is possible to anonymize the manuscripts in the first phase, also for the Editor, in the triple-blind model
  3. Open review, which involves different models, in order to achieve greater transparency during and after the valuation process. The reviewer and the author are known by the other during the peer review process, either because the names of the reviewers are published on the article page, or the peer review reports next to the article.

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In any case, it is essential that the process be as ethical and transparent. The structure of this task varies according to the journal, but generally the Editor or team makes a first estimate based on aspects of focus of the journal and formal issues. If the requirements are met, it is sent to the reviewers, who must issue their report within two weeks and one month. It is important, in this sense, punctuality in the review. If a reviewer is not competent in the subject or considers that he/she cannot finish the evaluation at the scheduled time, he/she must refuse the invitation of the editors. The respect of the deadlines is an indication of the consideration towards the author and his/her work.

The review is confidential and must be objective. It is not considered appropriate to make personal judgments about the authors. The review should be done rigorously and with academic and scientific arguments. So what is appropriate is to make an assessment in terms of: title and abstract (clarity and structure), the relevance of the subject, the originality of the work, the review of the literature, the structure and organization of the article, the plot capacity, the writing, methodological rigor., research instruments, research results, advances, discussion, conclusions, citations (variety and richness) and references.

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Reviewers are required to provide sufficient reasons and arguments for their assessments through a full critical report, especially if rejection is advised or changes are required. They should know the guidelines of the journal and the commitment they subscribe as reviewers. They must also warn publishers if they consider that the work is not original or has been published or is under review for another publication, or similarities or overlaps are detected with other published works.

A very positive aspect in the recommendations is to suggest bibliographic references of fundamental works possibly forgotten by the author. However, these academic indications should not be confused with the unethical recommendation of the citation of the publications themselves regardless of the approach of the revised manuscript, in what is a bad reviewer practice.

Finally, confidential information or information obtained during the peer review process cannot be used for personal purposes and it must be guaranteed that there are no conflicts of interest.

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The processes of academic selection of the manuscript by a scientific journal

Posted on February 17th 2020 by Ignacio-Aguaded- Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

The scientific journals, with international standards and editorial prestige, are very rigorous and transparent with their manuscript selection processes, acknowledging receipt of the works sent by the authors and informing by mail and / or on their management platform of the entire process of estimation / dismissal, and acceptance / rejection, and in case of acceptance, of the editing process.selection-06

On the official websites they offer the complete rules of the publication, as well as complementary instruments such as the pre-check of the manuscript to be sent, the documents of sending (if applicable, cover letter and refillable cover), the flow management guide in the OJS (platform), and even publicize the evaluation protocols for external reviewers, so that the authors know exactly what is going to be evaluated.

Once the work has been submitted, the quality journals have the publicized times of the entire process, explicitly committing themselves to compliance. For example, in ‘Communicar’, within a maximum period of 30 days, notification of the estimate or dismissal of the work is received. In case that the manuscript presents formal deficiencies, or is not included in the thematic focus of the publication, the Editorial Board formally or thematically dismisses the work, in many cases, with no return option. On the other hand, if it presents formal deficiencies, it will be returned to the author for correction before the beginning of the evaluation process. In this previous phase, it is very important that the manuscript is autochecked before being sent.

selection-03In journals of high reputation, manuscripts are always evaluated very rigorously, because scientific review is the core of quality (research is valued, not the researcher). In ‘Communicate’ this process can be submitted to 10-15 experts on average, anonymously. Its external reports are key to the acceptance / rejection of the work, as well as if it is necessary to submit it to modifications, in terms of extension, structure or style, respecting the content of the original.

The protocol used by the journal reviewers should always be public for everyone, especially for authors. The term of scientific evaluation of the works must also be published, and should never be a maximum time greater than the periodicity of the journal. For example, in ‘Comunicar’ the average time for scientific review is 50 days and 50 days final acceptance (that is, a total of 100 days).

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How to publish a good article and not die trying?

Posted on February 10th, 2020 by rosagarciaruiz- Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

The writing of a scientific article implies an important effort for a researcher and academic, so it is essential to assume a holistic vision of the process to have guarantees of success and be able to publish it in the leading journal in the author’s research area.

Design of the articleThis publication process begins before beginning to write since it is necessary to carry out a process of analysis and reflection on the topic being worked on. At this time it is crucial to read to have a deep and detailed knowledge of the state of the matter, that is, the author needs to have an accurate map of the background to his contribution, what are the relevant issues, what have been the advances in recent years, what have the latest works published in the area of ​​knowledge supposed, who are working on the same subject, how they carry out their contributions and what conclusions they have reached, etc. From the references collected, it is possible to design and state what the value of our article will be, accurately measuring what it will bring back to the status of the issue.

If during this process the pertinent bibliographic consultations have been made, this map will have been enriched with a series of referring scientific journals, among which the journal to which the article will be directed will be selected, paying special attention to the regulations for authors.

The next step is the writing of the manuscript. In previous posts of the School of Authors, reference has already been made to the guidelines to be followed in the writing of a scientific article, in its structure, regardless of its typology: literature review, research article, report, study or proposal, article which describes a new methodology or innovative method. In this sense, all articles require a striking, clear and concise title; an abstract and keywords that highlight the most relevant content and help the reader know what will be found in the text; an introduction or theoretical framework according to the objective or intention of the article and that demonstrates a deep knowledge of the subject and the status of the art; materials and methods that demonstrate an unquestionable scientific rigor; results obtained that delimit and put the value of the contributions of this new work; discussion and conclusions.

Before sending the article to the journal, we remember the need to carefully read the regulations, instructions on the submission process and pay attention to the checklist process. At the same time, and trying not to die in this laborious process, we insist on the convenience of getting the reading of a colleague, the so-called “peer friends“, to facilitate a critical and comprehensive reading of the article.

Finally, and no less important, if the author intends his/her article to be considered “a good article”, it is mandatory to contribute to the dissemination of the article, from the very publication of the preprint. Sharing the article published with other authors is the essence of the transfer of knowledge to society, for which the author has at his/her disposal social, scientific and common networks, portals specialized in scientific content, contact networks of experts in the field, institutional portals of universities, libraries or research centers. This dissemination process to achieve the greatest scientific impact of the article is precisely the one that brings substantial value to the hard work of publishing a good article without die trying. It is the commitment of each researcher, of each author, with his/her professional career and with his/her lines of research, sharing his/her articles with the community.

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How to identify a meaningful research question?

Posted on January 27th 2020 by Ana Perez-Escoda- Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion

When starting a new research project, it is important to develop a solid research question. This is a crucial step in the process, as it will guide all research activity, which means taking the necessary time and ensuring the right approach.

A correctly written research question has several characteristics that we must take into account to know that we have succeeded:

  • It must be clearly defined, avoiding the use of technical language.
  • It must be adequately focused to direct the research towards a logical conclusion. It should summarize a pending issue or problem that you wish to investigate through research, through a review of the literature or an experimental study or a theoretical exercise.
  • It should be approached plausibly and realistically within a schedule taking into account the available resources (for example, money, equipment, assistants, etc.).

Main steps to write a research question

Frequently, each researcher has a broad topic that interests him/her, an area of ​​disciplinary interest for which he/she feels motivated. However, this is not enough, it is essential to focus more rigorously. The following steps can help to organize the necessary priorities to find the meaningful research question we are looking for:

  • Step 1: Limit the general idea to a topic that can be investigated, bounded within the area. It is easier to do this by following your own curiosity about a particular research problem.
  • Step 2: To get the context of this general topic. It is essential to make preliminary readings, which enrich the previous knowledge of the subject. In this process, it is vital to ask questions such as: What has been done before, and more recently? How were these studies conducted? What hypotheses were tested? After these reflections, without doubt, new questions will arise. There may also be conflicting evidence or inconsistencies in the literature, which in one way or another will lead the researcher to find his/her questions.
  • Step 3: Refine the subject, as if using an even more powerful lens. In this step of the process other actors, team colleagues or from renowned prestige come into action to consult and with whom to comment impressions. This exchange of ideas is always enriching and helps to acquire a different perspective.
  • Step 4: To recap, in the final step, you should analyze the list of research questions, be critical of the process performed. It is essential to ask: Can I really find and/or collect the necessary data to address this question or problem? Will the method be feasible? Is my question too broad or narrow, or too subjective or objective?

In short, a useful practical rule to know if a research question is well formulated is to follow the “FINER” method: Feasible, Interesting, Novel, Ethical and Relevant (O’Brien & Broughton, 2017).

 

 

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