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Location: Kyoto and Auckland
Work interests: research, editing, science communication
Affiliation/website: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Preferred contact method: Any
Preferred contact language(s): English, German
Contact: email = researchcooperative-at-gmail-dot-com
Favourite publications: Various, and especially the open access versions of older journals with effective review systems

Founding Member



Work: ethnobotany, prehistory, museum curation
Affiliations: 1996-present: National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka. 1995: Freelance editor, Kyoto. 1994: JSPS Research Visitor, Kyoto University, Kyoto. 1993: Research Visitor, Australian National University, Canberra. 1991: Visiting Researcher, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.1990: STA Fellow, National Institute for Ornamental Plants, Vegetables, and Tea (NIVOT), Ano, Japan
Contact: National Museum of Ethnology, Senri Expo Park, Suita City, Osaka, Japan 565-8511
Biographical: Established the Research Cooperative in 2001
Favourite Publications: Various

Introducing the Universal Journal of Global Studies (of All Subjects and Everything)

2012-04-04
By: Research Cooperative
Posted in: Publishing

There seems to be some wishful thinking about the power of internet technology to launch new journals.

The fact that online journals can be set up with an off-the-shelf system, does not mean that people will read them or that authors will submit papers of value.

Many specialist journals already exist, with concise names.

Now it seems that many new journals try to distinguish themselves by adding terms such as 'global' or 'universal' to what might otherwise be a concise title. In the past, publishers were more modest, and made do with 'national', or 'international'.

A star example of successful open access publishing is the PLoS collection of journals. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) started with a single journal, and has been gradually expanding, over many years.

Time is needed to build up the support of contributors, reviewers, editors, readers, and academic organisations. Such support, from many people, is needed for any journal to flourish.

Any new journal needs to show how it has obtained such support, or how it can hope to build such support.

Unfortunately, numerous new journal editors or managers are trying to establish entire families of journals almost instantaneously. Since it is clearly impossible to do this and build the necessary support networks at the same time, potential contributors must look carefully at what each journal offers, what it will cost in comparison to other journals (i.e. what payment the contributor is expected to make) -- and whether there is any true academic merit in having original work published in a new journal that is unlikely to have continuity and a long future.

Authors must also beware of the fact that if they do not have to pay until after the paper is accepted, they may have trouble getting the paper accepted by another journal because the first journal has already accepted the paper. This form of delayed payment can in fact be a trap that makes it difficult to retract a paper from the submission and publishing process, if the author realises too late that the cost is going to be too high. So again - beware!

It is likely that more new journals fail than succeed - soon after being launched, and despite the sincere efforts of their owners and editors.

Establishing a new journal that fills a gap in the academic publishing world requires a huge amount of dedication by many people. If authors are asked to make large payments in order to publish in journals with no history or reputation, they should at least be able to see how those funds are really used. A new journal should be investing any income in making the journal better.

Unscrupulous journal owners could try to establish a journal with the primary intention of using author fees for the income of the journal owner, without being able to provide any service of value in return.

Some major existing academic publishers also charge high fees, for profit, but they can do this because their journals have a reputation that is valuable to the author, are known to have support within the academic community, and have access to appropriate and skilled reviewers and editors. There are reasons to be concerned about how such journals are managed and priced, and new publishers cannot expect authors to contribute articles and pay high costs when the journal is not already well known.

To give authors more confidence in a new journal, it might be useful if author payments are not made to journal account, but to an author-controlled account that the author can use -- at his or her discretion -- to directly pay the editors and copywriters involved in producing a publication, and to the web-hosting company for a stated fraction of the journal hosting costs, and eventually to the journal owner. The margin that then goes to the journal owner could then be made transparent, and might appear more reasonable.

Unfortunately, making online payments, and negotiating prices, is difficult for many people, for a variety of reasons, so this idea may not be practical.

To produce a serious journal does involve numerous costs, and these costs are greatest for journals that:

(a) lack a volunteer support network, and

(b) mainly attract contributions from authors who are not experienced writers, and whose work therefore needs more attention from reviewers and copy-editors.

A volunteer support network can be provided by an existing academic Society, for example, if such a Society decides to publish a journal.

My advice to authors is to look carefully at how costs are explained, the identity and qualifications of the journal owners and managing editors, and evidence for academic support from reviewers, academic societies, and so on.

Meanwhile, I invite authors not to contribute to the above-mentioned " Universal Journal of Global Studies of Everything " as this journal does not exist (I hope). This joke title also includes redundancy, something that I see all too often in my own work as an editor. As the non-editor of the above non-journal, I take full responsibility.

I do encourage authors to seriously investigate any new journal that might offer to handle their papers Our network has been designed in part to assist new publishers, in addition to well-established and well-known publishers.

The fact that our network offers support to a journal is no guarantee that the journal will succeed, or that the journal is suitable for an author's work, or that the journal owners really have the capacity to build and maintain a journal that they have launched.

If a sincere attempt to start a journal does eventually fail, then all participants in the fiasco (authors, reviewers, editors, and journal owners) may nevertheless learn useful lessons.

FINAL NOTE: a quick way to discover many new online publishing efforts is to conduct a keyword search on phrases used in the explanatory section of an existing new online journal.

The titles of many new online journals show similarities and repetition ("the Global this", "International that", and "Universal other"), and so do their contents!

See for example, a Google search on the phrase "except in the form of an abstract or as part of a published lecture, or thesis" (from an author guidelines section).

This phrase has been used by many different publishers, which suggests a large amount of automation (and possibly plagiarisation) in the very process of establishing new journals.

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