“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas, but to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they are valued”.
The publication of scientific and academic articles has increased rapidly in Mexico so far this 21st century. This is due to the existence of the National System of Researchers (SNI) of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), where, to enter and stay current, researchers must write and publish the results of their studies in specialized scientific media .
In 1984 – the year the SNI began – 1,396 researchers registered; in the year 2000, 7,466 were inventoried; and, to the year 2018 -34 years later-, the number surpassed the 28,000 researchers in payroll. That is, the bulk of the growth of the research population occurred during the past 18 years.
This increase in researchers coincides with the change in federal higher education policies (PROMEP in 1996, today PRODEP – Program for Teacher Professional Development -), through which the postgraduate training of university professors began to be promoted – giving preference to to the doctorate-, which brought with it the increase in the number of investigations and a high pressure to write and publish the findings.
Most of these researchers are inserted in universities and research centers, and a few in private companies. This ‘amplification’ of the population of registered researchers, which does not include many others who investigate but are not in the SNI, shows that there is already a propensity towards scientific and academic publication in the country. But does this mean that there is already a ‘culture of scientific publication’ in Mexico?
To begin with, what is meant by the culture of scientific publication? I have not found a definition – at least not in Spanish – that explains what that concept consists of. The Dutch researchers Tijdink, Schipper, Bouter, Maclaine Pont, de Jonge, and Smulders (2016), conducted an extensive study on “how scientists perceive the culture of publication” in the scientific field, where, after previous exploratory checks, They came to the point of prioritizing aspects about others of what they considered to be the “culture of publication.”
Thus, the research team focused on eight topics related to their vision of the culture of the publication, which were:
1. Financing of research
2. Authorship and sequence of authors
3. Quality vs. quantity
4. Pressure to publish
5. Scientific integrity
6. Publication bias
7. Impact factor
8. Competence, prestige, self-satisfaction and vanity
It will also be necessary to see that Tijdink and collaborators are talking about the culture of the publication prevalent in the Dutch biomedical scientific society, whose social scientific context is very mature and totally different from ours.
For them, the increasing number of published articles, the competitiveness for the funds available for research, the prioritization of areas or topics of research, productivity, the citation and the increasing amount of doctoral theses, “are phenomena that can be described as the publishing culture. ” But this is not a definition per se; they talk about that idea but they do not clarify it, which would have been an interesting starting point for their elaborate study.
Among the thousands of professors and researchers who have the habit of writing and publishing in Mexico and perhaps also in a good part of Latin America, as I have noticed, it permeated in them the culture of the publication as a reflection of the environment in which they developed; they learned by seeing others and they were correct in the writing and publication of their works by trial and error; sometimes, for example, not even linking the issue of financing their research with the fact of publishing, as Tijdink et al.
This research funding, I think, belongs rather to the initial processes of project projection and to commitments or promises (with whom the project is financed) to disseminate the resulting data. That is, among Mexican and Latin American professors and researchers, publication culture is a culture forged based on the evolution of the understanding of what writing is to publish in a specialized journal, and on how to proceed to do so. Each one learns and understands in its own way “the mysteries of scientific publication”. This is because there is no formal culture on the subject in universities.
When some of those professors who have already published and who arrive at a scientific writing workshop to incorporate new skills or improve what they have, as I have received in workshops, have an imprint already, that is, a very own way of doing things and they are difficult – if not impossible – reeducation. The reality is that many teachers today investigate a lot, knowing little or just enough to survive in the scientific environment on some of the 8 points mentioned above.
For the experience of more than 25 years that I have in this matter, from having founded and directed a printed newsletter, a newsletter, and created and edited two academic electronic journals (one that has been for 15 years), as well as having been a member of the committee editorial and / or reviewer of at least four journals (in Spanish and English), and dealing with hundreds of authors, who for their approach to the editor, the quality of their papers submitted for review, and their persistent insistence on whether would publish and when it would be published that they sent -all of which shows lack of experience about the art of writing to publish in the academy and in science-, I define the culture concept of academic and scientific publication as:
The set of knowledge and ideas, veteran, skills and trade of a scientist and / or academic, to:
1. manage, organize and analyze the data generated by your research
2. Write the research report with quality
3. Search, find, examine and select the journals of your interest
4. understand the policies and contexts of the journals
5. grant authorship that legitimately corresponds to each of the collaborators
6. Know and assimilate the author’s guides
7. Know how to apply these guides to your articles and / or future work
8. know and understand the peer evaluation process
9. Be patient with the times of revision of the works
10. look for the impact factor
11. assume the intellectual responsibility of the writing
12. recognize previous works connected to the own
13. accredit the institutions that sheltered and / or sponsored the study
14. provide and use bibliographic cataloging of their work
15. take into account the ideal and / or potential readers of the works
16. not be dishonest in the use and handling of the results
17. not plagiarize the ideas and / or works of others
18. assimilate rejection and feedback with the indications of peer reviewers
19. disseminate and share social work once published
20. self-recognized as a researcher-author
21. transmit this knowledge to their students and collaborating learners; and between other things,
22. know how to approach protocol, politely and appropriately to the editor, and, in the end,
23. Get your writings published.
One of the key aspects that Yore found in his study on “scientists as writers” (2002), and that explains in part why science and engineering researchers do not develop or root trans-generationally a culture of the publication that goes beyond beyond the practice of writing a report from time to time and seek to publish it in a specialized journal, is that scientists basically write to inform, unlike writers of literature or philosophy, for whom the act of writing is a process of knowledge construction.
Are there seminars, courses or workshops on the culture of academic and / or scientific publication in a university or college? Apparently not; in fact, Tijdink and collaborators affirm that this topic is an unexplored field (and it seems that way), and that, with the exception of the research carried out by them, it has not been systematically addressed.
In the course-workshop Publish or Perceive about writing and publication of the scientific article, we have incorporated several of the aspects mentioned above for more than 10 years.