Posted on May 12th, 2019 by Ignacio-Aguaded
Author Ignacio-Aguaded– Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion
Undoubtedly, the deposit of doctoral theses in “open” repositories is a very controversial and still unresolved issue that collects conflicting interests between the university institution and the researcher and postdoctoral. The world of open science still has a lot of utopia. In recent years, university repository rankings have been created that have generated a high degree of competitiveness among universities because they have as many and as quickly as possible the articles, books and any digital object of their community of researchers. Also the “doctoral thesis”…
Although these academic works are not properly publications, without doubt, they become publications from the moment they are accessible in the Repositories, since they are digital objects (whether or not they have DOI, whether they have ISBN or not) and are available on the Internet for all the community (and easily found through search engines or the same Google), so they break the premise of the original or in any case of the unpublished (not accessible), basic principles of the rules of a scientific journal and even more in the journals positioned in the first quartiles of the areas that are exclusively devoted to collecting the most relevant, novel and original science. That is its mission, and its visibility and impact is directly linked to this goal.
This issue has already generated many controversies among authors and editors in high-level journals, generating rejections of work for “plagiarism”, which surprises the authors when it is obvious that it is not a simple plagiarism (in the sense of misappropriation of the intellectual property of others) and, therefore, can not and should not have associated negative value. Although, it should not be forgotten that it is a “literal” copy of already accessible works, simply a self-plagiarizing of the doctoral student’s academic work and a doctor. In any case, it is a work “not published” in the strict and classical sense of the word, but it is accessible, although these two terms in the Internet society are increasingly being diluted.
In this situation, there are different options. The most recommended from our point of view is that the doctoral student will publish his or her findings as they take solid body without waiting for the end of the writing of the thesis and less waiting for the thesis to be published in the repositories. What is a criterion of quality evaluated by the academic examining board itself when the thesis is published and something that in many universities mandatory.
On the other hand, many universities, aware of this reality and sensitive to the need of doctoral students, to take advantage of their personal research, the already allow the seizure so that the works once finalized and before they are “accessible in the Repository”, have a postulation time (usually one or two years) in journals, books, chapters, congresses … before being definitively “published” in the Repository (usually with a DOI and even with an ISBN) that, undoubtedly, they give plus to the Universities but they already leave the work outside the circuit of the “unpublished”.
There are also other formulas that should be explored as not publishing “literally” fragments of a doctoral thesis when several authors sign the articles, since, if it is a collective work, it must be the result of everyone’s work. In addition, a thesis and a journal are two different means of channeling scientific diffusion, and hardly the format of a first level article coincides with that of a doctoral thesis.
The doctoral thesis and the works of the novice researchers can have a place in any publication, in the case of the journals of greater impact it is also possible, as long as they are excellent works that “mark” new paths for science and of course not drag base errors. In general, the pass rates in Spanish examining boards (92% outstanding cum laude) is far from those of acceptance of the best journals (5-10%), that is, the quality requirements are completely different and being newly doctorate is not it is an added merit. Although, it is obvious that for the normalized reception of doctoral works there are other publications of less visibility and impact.