Friday, 11 June 2010

Thoughts on the experience of publishing papers

As a ionospheric/near-earth-space physicist by training, I have published a few papers (mostly as co-author but one as a first author) in the geophysics journals that service this field. But recently I have also had a very different experience being a co-author on a paper that resulted from some work I have been doing in psychology.

The psychology paper, which is a really good study which shows interesting and possibly profound results (on which I will write more when it actually hits the dead-tree and/or pixel press), has just been accept after numerous submissions (and even more rewrites) to various journals.

This contrasts hugely with my experience in publishing in the geophysics journals, where although the reviewers have sometimes wanted substantial changes, I have not had a paper of mine rejected, and very few of those of my supervisors (none that I can immediately recall) have been rejected. That might imply that the journals we usually publish in such as the American Geophysical Union run Geophysical Research Letters (2008 Journal Citation Reports (JCR) impact factor of 2.959) and the more specific Journal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics (2008 JCR impact factor of 3.147 - though this is for all 7 parts of which Space is only one) accept almost everything for publication (as an illustration in the last 5 weeks there have been 49 papers published electronically in JGR-Space), but I don't think that is the case.

I suppose with Psychology being such are large field, as is Physics, that the more general journals will get huge amounts of submission and to be the best you only want to accept the best so there will obviously be more rejections in these types of journals rather than the more sub-field specific journals I have been used to.

As a counter point to the impact factors of the geophysics journals above I guess it is only fair to compare these to the journals the psychology study was submitted to: Nature (would have been nice but we did not expect to get accepted) JCR impact factor of 31.434, Cognition 3.481 (there may have been one or two more but I can't be sure) and Experimental Brain Research (where it is being eventually published) 2.195.

I would be interested in hearing any other stories of experience publishing in various fields, so don't hold back.

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