I declare that I don’t own a goldfish…

Yes, I totally understand conflicts of interests, and I also understand that journals have an incentive to indemnify themselves in cases of conflict of interest. At the same time, we’re not getting paid any extra for doing reviews; I could be doing something else. I guess this is why they ask me every time whether I want “recognition” on Publons (no, I still don’t get it), and perhaps on ORCID… but seriously, who comes up with this?

Please complete a declaration of competing interests, considering the following questions:

1. Have you in the past five years received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organisation that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future?

2. Do you hold any stocks or shares in an organisation that may in any way gain or lose financially from the publication of this manuscript, either now or in the future?

3. Do you hold or are you currently applying for any patents relating to the content of the manuscript?

4. Have you received reimbursements, fees, funding, or salary from an organization that holds or has applied for patents relating to the content of the manuscript?

5. Do you have any other financial competing interests?

6. Do you have any non-financial competing interests in relation to this paper?

OK, I guess it’s sometimes worth spelling out what a conflict of interest actually means. (I also guess that most of these points are not really adapted to the social sciences.) Obviously I should not do the review in the first place in the case of a conflict of interest, but the best part comes at the end!

If you can answer no to all of the above, write ‘I declare that I have no competing interests’ below. If your reply is yes to any, please give details below.

That’s right, a tick box is not enough in this case. So please, I want to declare that I don’t own a goldfish — I mean, it could be relevant?

… submit any type of the article based upon your research interest …

Academic spam can be funny some times. Who on earth is going to fall for this one?

Respected Doctor,

I had a glance at your profile online and was extremely amazed with your work. I feel you will be an ideal person who helps us for the progress of our Journal. Hence, I am approaching you through this email.

All the authors around the globe are cordially invited to submit any type of the article based upon your research interest for the upcoming edition.

I hope you will consider my request and I wish to have your speedy response in 24 hrs.

Await your cheerful comeback.

👉 So, please, all the authors around the globe, quickly submit any article! I’m sure it’s going to be great, any you’ll have plenty of readers… but note that you’ll have to respond within 24 hours…

Review your journals

Shouldn’t we know more about the journals we submit to? When starting out in academia, I found it quite difficult to judge journals: who reads which journals, what kinds of research is appreciated by which journals, etc. Most journals advertise their impact factors, but that’s probably not the most important information. SciRev is probably the most useful service out there for this (beyond senior colleagues), giving information on the time journals take to make a decision (which of course greatly depends on the reviewers, but also what they let the reviewers get away with), the number of reviewer reports, and some subjective quality score. Some reviews justify their score in a couple of words. What would be even better is if SciRev made its non-profit objectives clearer (it’s run by the SciRev Foundation), user-contributed information on the journals, and perhaps a forum to discuss the scope of journals. Submitting reviews is very easy, by the way!

Think Check Submit

I have just come across this website: http://thinkchecksubmit.org/ and thought it deserves a wider audience. The “check” section includes useful advise, but I think one item is missing: Does this journal publish the kind of research you do? Browse the table of contents, do a quick search…

Which Journal to Submit to?

One part of being an academic is (trying to) publish research in peer-reviewed journals (well, most do…). There are literally thousands of journals, so which one should we choose? There are different ways to approach this problem, but I’m afraid no easy answers.

Apparently there are scholars who undertake research with a particular journal in mind: the research design and writing process is geared towards this journal. This sounds great, but actually just shifts the problem. Moreover, what do you do when the targeted journal rejects the article?

An easier way is to look at your references. Which journals do you cite most often? Which debates do you relate to? I find this one of the most useful approaches, although one problem is that even simple and unexciting papers often refer to papers in top journals. The challenge is to distinguish between “referring to” a paper, and “engaging with” a paper or debate.

Perhaps easier still is asking a senior colleague in the field. This only works if you know what the contribution of the paper is (or what you want it to be), which usually means having a good abstract in hand. Knowledge of journals comes from reading these journals, but also from having submitted papers to journal. Sites like SciRev, laudable as they are by letting us review journals and the submission process, are, however, no substitute to knowledge of the field. And remember, apparently even the most seasoned academics sometimes get it wrong…