Archive for March, 2014

Journal Of Knowledge Environment

Monday, March 31st, 2014

This April 1, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new Gold Open Access, self peer-reviewed publication: The Journal Of Knowledge Environment (JOKE). One of the biggest problems in editing a journal is finding peer reviewers and then getting the authors to respond to their troublesome comments. JOKE solves this by having the authors themselves provide peer review. However, we are going to be strict. Each manuscript must be accompanied by a thorough and unbiased review by the authors. No exceptions!

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, our time-to-first “decision” is only 30 minutes, longer if your credit card fails to process. Can’t write in English? No problem! Our only readers probably will be clueless members of your tenure committee mindlessly counting your publications. JOKE’s Impact Factor is 392.15, but that’s only our estimate. (Actual IF may vary.)

Did we mention cost? Publication in JOKE is yours for only US $9,999.99 per article. For an additional US $3,000.00 we will provide an online certificate for the “Best JOKE Paper Award.” There’s a 10 percent discount for each additional manuscript, provided it has a different title. Ask about our boost-your-CV group rates!

The Editor-in-Chief for JOKE will be Dr. E. T. Alia, the most cited author in history. He will be assisted by an Editorial Board so distinguished we cannot disclose their names.

Send in those manuscripts now!

Predatory OA Journals

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Unintended consequences can be killers! The Open Access (OA) movement, begun for economic and idealistic reasons, now faces a huge and unanticipated crisis: Predatory OA Journals.

An OA journal offers its content for free on the Internet, thus offering the widest possible distribution. Even after eliminating paper, though, publishing is not free. Most OA journals keep their lights on using an “author pays” business model of assessing Author Publishing Charges (APCs).

Let me state upfront, I do not believe OA is inherently flawed. Many reputable journals now offer some form of OA. (JAWRA uses a hybrid model of subscriptions plus OA for authors who require it.) If a journal’s rejection rate is high enough, an editor has no temptation to accept an inferior article just to get the APC.

“Author pays,” unfortunately, opens the field to predation. It’s easy to build a fancy journal website and promote it with blast emails inviting submissions and membership on a “distinguished editorial board.” Quickly “peer review” all submissions, put the articles online, and collect your fee.

Think predatory OA is not a problem? Read Jeffery Beall’s blog, “Scholarly Open Access.” The brazenness of these publishers is astonishing! It’s not unusual for a predatory publisher to launch 40 journals at once. All have prestigious titles. Editorial boards are populated by distinguished scientists, most of whom don’t realize they are members. To appear  established , some journals simply steal papers from other journals and place them online as back issues. Impact factors are based on meaningless metrics or just plain made up. Peer review involves little more than making sure your credit card is accepted. Complaints? Good luck in tracing through a web of redirected addresses! The list of offenses goes on and on.

Why would a reputable scientist publish in these journals? These folks are smoother than that Nigerian finance minister who needs your help. A flattering invitation arrives in your email, the website looks good (if you don’t check too closely), and before you know it you’ve submitted a manuscript or agreed to be on a “Distinguished Editorial Board.” Sadly, those most vulnerable to this kind of pitch are young scientists in developing nations, who have neither the experience nor the mentoring to avoid such traps. Regrettably, some AWRA members have inadvertently aided these predatory publishers by passing around their tables of content, or forwarding their fraudulent email pitches.

Besides taking your money, predatory journals do real harm. Tenure committees are getting wise to predatory OA, and publishing in these outlets is not a good career move. Prominent scientists have been embarrassed for, knowingly or not, taking a short cut to publication. Worse, by presenting themselves as legitimate, predatory OA journals lend an air of respectability to “science” papers that have received little or no peer review. The public may not understand the difference between JAWRA, now on its 50th volume, and a predatory OA journal that began last year.

How can you protect yourself against these predators? Always be skeptical of email requests. Keep in mind how easy it is to set up a slick web site. Beall’s blog includes lists of known offenders, and checking it is a good start. Google searches also help. If you know somebody listed on an editorial board, check by contacting them directly. Most importantly, deal with people and organizations you know and trust. It’s a dangerous world out there on the Internet.

Associate Editor, Water Quality Monitoring

Monday, March 24th, 2014

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jaehak Jeong, currently of the Blackland Research & Extension Center, Texas A&M, as Associate Editor for Water Quality Monitoring. We had a good talk earlier this afternoon, and I am confident Jaehak is a fine selection. Jaehak is a young professional and very active in a number of fields. He also has good connections with the Korean Water Resources Association, which could be helpful in future collaborations.

Please join me in welcoming Jaehak to our JAWRA Editorial Team!

AE for Forest Hydrology

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

I am pleased to announce the appoint of Dr. Alicia Kinoshita, currently of the Colorado School of Mines, as Associate Editor for Forest Hydrology. We had a good talk earlier this afternoon, and I am confident Alicia is a fine selection. With growing interest in the effects of climate changes, I think her experience with western forests will be particularly valuable.

Please join me in welcoming Alicia to our JAWRA Editorial Team!

Writing a Decision Letter

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Counting manuscript revisions, my job requires me to write about 500 decisions letters each year. Although these letters start as templates, most include words from me specific to the manuscript. Here are a couple of rules I’ve learned for giving this advice.

Remember the “Washington Post Rule.” Never write anything you would not care to see in tomorrow’s Post! Cutting, cruel, or sarcastic words are more likely to reflect badly on you than on the subject. You are not showing off your creative writing skills; you are trying to inform an author.

Be direct. If you like or don’t like something, say so and explain why. Say exactly what must be done to revise a manuscript, and don’t make the author guess. If the author has options, make that point clear. If a reviewer has raised a question that must be answered, state this clearly. Wishy-washy wording can encourage revisions of a hopelessly poor manuscript, or give an author the idea reviewer comments can be safely ignored.

Don’t send the author on a wild goose chase. Reviewers sometimes go overboard with advice that would send a paper way beyond its original scope. If you don’t agree with a reviewer, let the author know.

Do not tolerate unethical conduct, but be open to an explanation. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, your position must be firm. While summarily dismissing problematic manuscripts, I always leave the door open a crack for the author to tell me I’ve got it all wrong.

Proceedings and Journals

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

A recent thread in The Scholarly Kitchen brought out some interesting differences between Conference Proceedings and Journals. Here’s my (edited) entry:

I’ve chaired conferences before. Let me assure you that producing a proceedings is vastly different from editing a peer-reviewed journal.

1. Time. The schedule for a conference is set in stone. At best, you have time for one round of reviews and revisions. In our journal, we can keep going until we get it right.

2. Reviewer qualifications. Proceedings typically are reviewed by one or two members of the conference technical committee, who may or may not have all the requisite skills. Journals choose reviewers from a large pool.

3. Responsiveness of authors. Without a second round of reviews, what the author sends back usually is what is published, even if the author blows off the comments. Don’t try this with a journal.

4. Direct feedback. The conference session often generates comments from the audience. Unfortunately, proceedings typically have no way of capturing this interaction. Journals have Discussion and Reply.

5. Consequences of rejection. Rejecting a proceedings paper often means having at least one less attendee and an open slot in the program. Rejecting a journal paper typically opens space for another.

With all these limitations, it’s hard to justify calling the proceedings of most conferences peer reviewed in the same sense as a journal is peer reviewed. AWRA now requires only abstracts from presenters. The conference committee typically works with me to select the most promising presentations and encourage full JAWRA submittals following the conference.