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David Green:Quality drives success of academic journals

By Zhang Mengying | 2013-08-29 | Hits:
CSST: What does it take to be a truly international journal?
David Green: First of all, the journal needs to ensure that the aims and scopes of the journal, and the articles published, are contributing to the on-going conversation about that subject at an international level. 
By ensuring that a journal adequately represents and supports the interests of its subject’s community of researchers, authors, reviewers and editorial board members the community will in turn support the journal. Editors and editorial board members are the journal’s direct link to its community. Journals are representations of a research community, which is not a static entity, and a journal needs to change and adapt to the needs of its community to stay at the top of its field. Likewise the publishing environment is evolving and journals must adapt to changing demands in order to remain strong. 
The criterion that never changes, however, is that of quality. Quality drives success. The cornerstone on which a reputation is built is a rigorous peer review process: the quality and speed of peer review can have a fundamental impact on a journal’s reputation. Regular monitoring of the review processand the reviewersis imperative for the journal to attract the best authors and articles. It assures more readers, and delivers online usage and the new currency in journals publishing.
As we are working in an increasingly online age where we are inundated by digital noise,” it is vital that a journal has a strong online presence to enable researchers to discover and access content that is relevant to them.   To truly reap the benefits of widespread global access, a journal must ensure that researchers find, and engage with its content. High visibility international Marketing is now an essential part of journal publishing.
CSST: What challenges in particular do Chinese academic journals encounter in gaining broader recognition?
David Green: One area in which Chinese academic journals do not always meet international standards is that of publishing ethics and peer review, although this is changing due to increased investment in research and mentoring of the younger Chinese author community. Publishing ethics are fundamental to the scholarly process and a lack of adherence risks obstructing China’s ambitions for research development.
Chinese authors may benefit from advice regarding their original submissions. They find that responding to the peer-review process is a challenge and so constructive guidance is important for ensuring these authors understand the publication process and their position as an author. For Chinese academic journals to continue to prosper, education should continue to be provided to Chinese authors about the publication process and the importance of peer review in the academic arena.
CSST: Based on your experience, what do you believe are important steps for a journal to become more international?
David Green: For a journal to mark its place on the world’s academic stage, it is not just about being accessible to an international audience. It must secure international readership which, in turn, should lead to international authorship. Attracting an international readership is heavily dependent on the visibility and quality of articles–both quality of content and language. The quality of the English language published will, to many readers outside of China, represent a benchmark of the quality of the research undertaken. Quality content is essential to ensure that the material is used and cited – this is what drives reputational factors and metrics.
Successful international journals are those which take great care to plan editorial development. For example, the roles of the editorial team should be made clear from the outset; inviting big-name authors and planning special issues should be a continuous effort to ensure that each year the journal benefits from attractive content that will appeal to a global audience; the editorial office should be working closely with referees and authors to ensure that the journal doesn’t disappear from their foresight, and efforts should be made to ensure that the journal’s scope remains relevant within the changing research environment. Equally, if there are any areas of dissatisfaction then the journal’s editor should set a strategy in place to reverse the situation.
With the increase in information available online, what will be of paramount importance for authors will be the discoverability of their research amongst a wealth of other (potentially freely-accessible) content; journals, whether open access or not, will serve to give a stamp of authority to papers, assuring readers of the quality of the peer-reviewed research published within the journal.
Equally, journals themselves play an important role in fostering the culture of academic exchange as an international currency of research; supporting and advising authors will help to minimize some of the aforementioned problems and create a philosophy of attachment to the publication process. It is also critical that journal editors a) receive support where quality of language and editing is concerned, b) have a strong sense of responsibility and c) they remain up to date with developments in the industry to ensure that they are steering their journal in the right direction.  
Interviewed by Zhang Mengying, a reporter from Chinese Social Sciences Today
Editor:Feng Daimei