The Steinhoff Saga Management review - University of Stellenbosch Business School

July – December 2018

Why publication in an academic journal matters

academic journal
  • OCT 2018
  • Tags Food for Thought, Research
10 minutes to read

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Making your research visible

Getting a research project published in an accredited journal holds benefits for both the researcher and the institution hosting the journal. It is through publication that the research, including its scientific and practical contributions, is disseminated to others in a particular field. This makes scientific researchers and practitioners with similar interests aware of new knowledge in their field and it helps to advance knowledge and its application.

It is more difficult to get published in higher quality journals, but it shows expertise in a field and an ability to conduct scientifically grounded research. It also reflects on the academic stature of the institution hosting the publication.

Why is publishing in a journal superior to publishing in other types of publications?

In an accredited journal, every article is verified as scientifically reliable and valid through a peer review process. The process that the researchers have followed, their claims and conceptualisation must be underpinned by scientific principles.

The peer review process serves as a quality control mechanism.

The peer review process serves as a quality control mechanism. Peer review means that a board of reviewers, who are experts in the field, review the articles submitted by researchers for relevance, quality and adherence to scientific standards and the editorial standards of the journal before the articles can be accepted for publication. Peer review is done blind (i.e. without the reviewer knowing who the author is) to help eliminate bias. The peer review process is usually organised by the editor of the journal.

The Journal Impact Factor – a way to rank journals

A number of journal ranking systems are used to determine the standing of a journal – or the relative importance of a journal in its field. One of the most well-known is the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) designed by Eugene Garfield, founder of the Institute for Scientific Information, which is now owned by Thomson Reuters. The Journal Impact Factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited over a certain period of time. Other rankings are also used, such as SNIP (Scopus’s Source Normalized Index per Paper), Google Scholar Index and CABs (Chartered Association of Business Schools).

A journal’s ranking can therefore serve as a metric to reflect journal quality as well as the value of a researcher – who is typically a faculty member, PhD student or research fellow at an academic institution such as USB.

The number of articles that a researcher has published in a reputable journal in a particular year is taken into account by academic institutions when they need to make decisions about recruitment, performance assessments, promotions, research fellowships and awards. At USB, the quality of articles published in journals do play a role in the appointment and promotion of academics.

A journal’s ranking can therefore serve as a metric to reflect journal quality as well as the value of a researcher …

Today, alternative metrics (altmetrics) are also used to measure scholarly impact. Altmetrics can include the number of downloads or statistics sourced from social media.

In essence, getting an article published in a journal with a higher JIF is good for a researcher’s reputation.

The difference between accredited and non-accredited journals

In South Africa, an accredited journal refers to a journal subsidised by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Subsidised journals have to comply with stringent quality criteria, including peer reviews.

Although accredited journals include thousands of international journals, it is only in South Africa that a distinction is made between accredited and non-accredited journals. This is because of the country’s subsidy scheme where academic and research institutions only get subsidised by government (the Department of Higher Education and Training) once the research has been published in a reputable journal. In most other countries, funding is granted on the accepted submission of a funding application.

At USB, the quality of articles published in journals do play a role in the appointment and promotion of academics

The ideal is therefore to publish in an accredited journal as it will lead to recognition of your research and to obtaining additional research funding. A list of subsidised journals can be found on the website of Stellenbosch University’s Division for Research Development.

The journey from research to journal publication

The first step is writing up the research. It is good practice to send the article to a colleague to check for sense-making and thereafter for language editing before submitting it to the journal editor. Each journal has its own specific set of guidelines, which must be strictly adhered to.

If the article gets accepted for review, the journal editor will send it to a number of peer reviewers for a blind review. The peers will each advise the editor to either recommend to approve the article (this normally does not happen on the first review), send it back for revision, or reject it. If revisions are recommended, the process continues until a final decision can be made on whether or not to publish the article.

In essence, getting an article published in a journal with a higher JIF is good for a researcher’s reputation

The role of USB’s journals in advancing research 

USB hosts two accredited journals: The South African Journal of Business Management (SAJBM) and Studies in Economics and Econometrics (SEE) (together with the Bureau for Economic Research):

  • The South African Journal of Business Management: The SAJBM focuses on studies in the general and broad field of business and management. It publishes articles that have real significance for management practice and theory. This includes coaching, leadership, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, innovation and even social impact. It is an accredited journal, and a one star- journal as rated by CABs. Click here for SAJBM.
  • Studies in Economics and Econometrics: The SEE is also an accredited journal and has a strong focus on economic and econometric research in the widest sense of these terms. Click here for SEE.

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