The ‘Interdisciplinary Research Discourse’ project held its second seminar at the University of Birmingham on 29th June. At the seminar, the results of various linguistic analyses, including Multi-Dimensional Analysis, Topic Modelling, and Phraseological Profiling, were presented. The aim of these analyses was to investigate the discourse of the interdisciplinary journal Global Environmental Change, along with 10 other journals dealing with environmental and related issues in the physical and social sciences. In addition, the researchers also interviewed and surveyed writers, reviewers and editors of the journal, the results of which were also presented at the seminar. The two-year project was funded by the ESRC and was supported by Elsevier publishers, who provided a corpus of the journal articles and assisted with conducting the survey and citation analysis.
In the second part of the survey on writing strategies we will examine the following strategies: (7) Demonstrating the applicability of research, (8) Positioning yourself explicitly in relation to previously published research, (9) Adapting the level of technicality to the journal’s audience, and (10) Providing strong and explicit argumentation on the paper’s importance and relevance to the journal.
Demonstrating the applicability of research
The applicability of research appears to be strongly associated with interdisciplinary journals. More than 80% of respondents find demonstrating the applicability of research important for getting the paper published by an interdisciplinary journal. In comparison, around 50% of respondents think it is important for publishing in monodisciplinary journals. This implies that interdisciplinary research is focussed on applications in the real world.
The aim of this section of the survey was to determine which writing strategies are most important when trying to get one’s research published in a specific journal. An additional aim was to find out whether the same strategies are equally important when publishing in interdisciplinary and monodisciplinary journals. We asked our respondents to rank the importance of the following strategies: (1) Referring to a shared body of literature, (2)Drawing on a broad range of literature, (3) Conforming to a particular style of writing, (4) Conforming to a particular way of organising the paper, (5) Explaining the methodology in detail, and (6) Providing a detailed interpretation of the results.
Referring to a shared body of literature
Citing the same literature as the papers already published by the journals appears to be an important strategy for both types of journals, but more so for monodisciplinary journals. Writing in an interdisciplinary journal will more likely result in drawing on a broad range of literature (see the following graph). However, it is important for interdisciplinary researchers (more than 50% respondents) to have a shared body of literature they can refer to. This implies that most of interdisciplinary research is made in established fields that share a common ground.
In this post we will examine how the respondents ranked the following factors: 7) the speed of the review process, 8) the speed of the publication of article, 9) topics and problems addressed in the journal, 10) methodological frameworks presented in the journal, 11) the wish to present an alternative approach to a topic of interest, and 12) the wish to demonstrate the broad applicability of one’s research. As in the previous post, we will focus on discovering any differences in the factors which influence the selection of the journal for publication.
Speed of the review process
For the majority of respondents, the speed of the review process, i.e. getting the paper accepted by the journal, is one of the most important factors when selecting the journal to publish in. Although the factor is important for both mono- and inter-disciplinary research, it appears to be slightly more important when selecting interdisciplinary rather than monodisciplinary journals.
The first set of question we asked our respondents was to rank the factors that influence the selection of journal which they publish their research in. We asked the respondents to rank each of the factors with respect to its importance for publishing in monodisciplinary and interdisciplinary journals. The aim of this was to discover whether the respondents treat monodisciplinary research differently from interdisciplinary research. For the majority of factors, we have not observed major differences between mono- and inter-disciplinary research. This is summarised in a comment from one of the respondents who stated:
I don’t view journals differently based on whether I think they are monodisciplinary or interdisciplinary.
However, as we will see in the following posts, there were some factors in which there were some differences between the two research modes. Furthermore, looking at the individual responses, for some of our respondents the importance of factors varied with respect whether the journal or research is considered monodisciplinary or interdisciplinary. For example, one of the respondents described the process of choosing an interdisciplinary journal as ‘less constrained and prescriptive’:
Interdisciplinary research opens the possibility of less constrained targeting of journals and a less prescriptive approach to the journal choice. One is more likely to just put it out there and see where it ends up.
Due to the number of factors we will split the results of this analysis into two parts, published as separate blog posts. Thus in this post we will cover 1) the impact factor of the journal, 2) the reputation of the journal, 3) the reputation of the publisher, 4) the importance of the journal to the discipline or research field, 5) institutional requirements to publish in specific journals and 6) reaching a specific target audience.