Scholarly publications contain research findings that have been reviewed by subject experts prior to being published in a journal, book or another media form.
Research aims to increase our knowledge within different disciplines. This means that research findings must be made available. Findings that are not published do not become a part of the scholarly knowledge base and nor can they be used in practice in the society at large. Moreover publishing is an important way for researchers to boost their careers. It is therefore vital that the research community has access to efficient forms of publishing.
Primary and secondary publications
- Primary publications contain original material and new research findings that are published for the first time, e.g. in scholarly journal articles, research reports and doctoral theses.
Scholarly journals are known as primary journals, i.e. they accept articles that have never been published before.
- Secondary publications contain previously published material and overviews of research, e.g. research reviews, newspaper articles and popular scientific magazines, manuals and textbooks.
In addition to providing compilations and overviews of scholarly publications on a particular subject, research reviews also often evaluate the various studies.
The kind of publication chosen for presenting findings can vary between disciplines. Scholarly articles is the dominant way of publishing new findings in science, technology and medicine. In the humanities and social sciences it is more common to publish books and reports.
Before publishing an article in a scholarly journal, it is first checked by an editor and two or more researchers who are active in the same area of research. This is called peer-review and its purpose is to act as a quality audit. Documents that have undergone the process of being checked by subject experts prior to publication are accredited with greater academic pondus than those that have not.
The editorial box in journals contains important information about where legal responsibility lies, the names of the academic reviewers connected to the journal, the requirements for getting published and information for authors.
The term open access means that scholarly texts are published on the Internet and freely available for all. It's mainly used for scientific articles, theses and reports but also for books and research findings. The basic idea is that publicly financed research should be free to read, download, copy and distribute. In this way research findings can be disseminated quickly and efficiently to the research world and the general public.
Open access publications are disseminated either through open access journals or by way of open digital archives. Around 15% of all scholarly journals that are peer-reviewed are open access journals. DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) lists open access journals in many different subject fields.
Open digital archives hold either publications from a specific research institute or a particular subject area. Open archives from around the world can be found in OpenDOAR (Directory of Open Access Repositories). Publications in these open archives can be found by using search services such as Google, OAIster, DRIVER(publications from European research institutions) and SwePub (publications from academic institutes in Sweden). DiVA is Uppsala University's open archive.
Academic quality can also be checked by objective, measurable criteria of quality, for example bibliometric factors, impact factors and citation analysis.
Impact Factor (IF) is a measurement of how often an average article in a specific journal is cited in a given year. IF is calculated as the correlation between citations and published citable articles.
Lists for the IF for those journals covered by Science Citation Index are published annually by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) - ISI Journal Citation Reports (JCR).
Another tool that researchers can use to decide in which journals to publish their findings is Journal Info. This service contains information on approximately 18,000 journals.