Raja Ram Gurung is the Managing Editor of the Nepal Journal for Biotechnology, volunteering with the publication since 2014. The Nepal Journal of Biotechnology has been published by the Biotechnology Society of Nepal for the last 9 years to help and build the scientific writing capacity of researchers in Nepal and beyond.
Running scholarly journals and journal clubs are one of the highest noble academic activities. But they need great effort, time, skills, expertise, dedication and regular activities like rigorous learning, problem-solving, and ultimately sharing those findings. This helps in scientific approaches for our daily practices to do things better, be effective, be efficient so that ultimately research culture becomes our way of life. This makes our nations develop, become more prosperous, mitigate human sufferings and help the people’s lives.
Our experiences aside, it is very difficult to publish in highly reputed journals not only due to their exorbitant Article Processing Charges (APCs) or the recommended 3rd Party language editing services with expensive fees for non-native English-speaking countries' researchers before manuscript consideration. Overcoming these barriers are not guarantees of publication. It is our compulsion to meet their other stringent criteria (such as journal's aims, scope, ethical aspects, conflict of interest, reliability, validity and reproducibility issues and so on). Many times, article drafts are rejected from the editorial desk before reaching the peer reviewers. Often just because our work does not fulfill the journal's requirement. Most of the authors don't bother to read and follow thoroughly the author guidelines and editorial policies of the targeted journal before the manuscript submission phase. This is another major reason for paper rejection.
For researchers, there is a huge misconception about the advantages of international journals compared to local journals. Some journals mislead us by claiming their high impact factor. Actually, many legitimate journals do not even have an impact factor (IF). It also varies with fields - for example, Biology journals generally have the highest IF (approx. 3+) while social science and humanities are much lower (1 or below). The IF of a journal should be compared to other journals within the same subject category.
Journal metrics and indexes
Authors should know that there are several good quality journal metrics such as Clarivate Analytics (formerly called Thomson Reuters)’s Web of Science database, on which the Impact Factor (IF) is based. The center of Web of Science core collection have six flagship citation indexes, namely, the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCH), Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Conference Proceeding Citation Index (CPCI), and Book Citation Index (BkCI). Besides Web of Science, there are other platform such as Scopus and it’s CiteScore (the equivalent of Impact Factor) called Scopus Cite Factor (SCF), Scimago, and SciVal; Pubmed (MEDLINE®) indexing and Pubmed Central developed and maintained by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library Medicine (NLM) in National Institutes of Health (NIH); DOAJ indexing; Google Scholar indexing (GSI); and Microsoft Academic Search.
Authors can also use the h-index metric to assess their own individual publication record. Altmetrics is another tool that can be used to assess the impact of individual research papers, SJR (Scientific Journal Rankings), CiteScore metrics of Elsevier, INDEX COPERNICUS Value (ICV) etc. Besides indexing, many journals are abstracted in more specific databases such as Biological Abstracts, BIOSIS, Micromedex, CSADatabase, Elsevier BIOBASE, EMBASE, EBSCO, Research Alert, Scisearch, IS Journal Ranking, CWTS Journal Indicators: RePEc/IDEAS Ranking etc. which are also plus points to the reputed journals.
Fake impact factors
However, there are also fake or poor-quality impact factors, which includes Scientific Journal IF (SJIF), Global Impact Factor (GIF), Cosmos Impact Factor (CIF), Universal Impact Factor (UIF) and so on. Thus, before submitting manuscripts to any journal, first we should check the editorial board members and their research experiences, history of the publishing house, number of issues they have published, number of papers cited which are published in that journal or impacts towards scientific community and society etc. besides their indexing and abstracting lists.
'Predatory’ journals and conferences
There are many predatory or fake journals, and predatory conferences mushrooming these days. They publish your work without doing a peer review process. That is why we should be very careful regarding submitting manuscripts to predatory journals or attending predatory conferences, which can be counter-productive and create great loss of reputation, a waste of APC and even your job or promotion. You might not be able to retract your paper from such journals once it has been published, because it already reached too many people.The damage caused by such actions is unrecoverable. Grant penalty, demotion, loss of academic degree, mental torture or sometimes legal actions could be the consequences if we follow the shortcut ways to publish our work in predatory journals. The Think. Check. Submit. and AuthorAID websites provide advice on avoiding predatory journals and conferences.
Publishing Open Access
The Diamond/Platinum OA publication platform can be a useful option because it does not require fee payment to the journal or book publishers from the author. Authors may also retain copyright of the work while granting the journal a "License to Publish”. This gives the author more freedom and control over their work and they can generally reuse, and share elsewhere. Depending on the licence for use (Creative Commons licence) applied to the work, the contents of Open Access publications can be reused, adapted, or even used for a commercial purposes. This applies to publication of all forms of innovations or novel works/intellectual properties such as book, song, art, software, mobile applications, product design etc. It is standard practice for Open Access journals to publish research papers under the Creative Commons (CC) Licences that favor open access terms. However, it is suggested that you check the licence terms of journals and author rights before you sign over your copyright. There are six different licence types, out of them the CC0 (aka CC Zero) licence is a public dedication tool, it gives greater flexibility to reusers. While creators circulated their work into the worldwide public domain but do not claim its copyright. Others popular licences are CC BY, CC BY-SA, CC BY-NC, CC BY-NC-SA, CC BY-ND, and CC BY-NC- ND and have their own features and restrictions.
But in the case of subscription journals (paywalled/ close access/ traditional journals), the paper will be usually be published only after paying an Article Processing Charges (APCs) either by authors or covered by the institutional library annual subscription charges. The traditional licence is “All Rights Reserved” which is quite restrictive, and means that readers must ask permission to copy, share, or adapt beyond “fair use” and authors are usually required to transfer their copyright to the publisher.