31 May 2011

Too many journals, too few papers?

I'm sure that others have noticed a very large increase in the number of messages from journal publishers seeking either members for their editorial boards or calling for papers.  A (very) modest investigation suggests that the majority of the journals involved are so-called 'open access', involving author charges.  A number of publishers are clearly trying to jump on the open access bandwagon in the hope of making a profit; but they are doing so without having journal editors with the kinds of contacts that would enable them to contact people individually to be Board members.  One wonders, therefore, about the authority they can bring to the editorial position.

The Call for Papers message suggests a couple of things: one is that these journals and their editors do not have the kind of relationship to the respective fields of the journals to be able to use other means of attracting papers and, on the other hand, they are aware that there are many academics seeking publication outlets for their work. Even a cursory examination of the journals involved suggests that the quality is low: copy-editing is almost non-existent and the standard of English suggest that no one is doing any actual editing.

In the 'publish or perish' environment in which young researchers exist these days, desperate to publish to attain a tenured appointment, these publishers will claim to fill a need, but publication in newly established journals, based on a business model that has not been tested over time, is a hazardous business.  In addition, the journals are unlikely to be listed in Web of Knowledge and, increasingly, universities (in response to the idiot requirement of 'research assessment') are demanding in highly ranked journals, and even if a young researcher cannot get into a highly ranked journal, a mid-ranked journal will be of more value on his or her CV that publication at all costs in a journal of dubious reputation.

09 May 2011

Nokia's downfall?

I see that both Nokia and Blackberry are suffering from the onslaught of iPhones and Android devices. Nokia is now thinking of transferring more production out of Finland, which could have interesting effects nationally, and is, presumably with some sense of desperation, trying to come up with an answer.  Having appointed an ex-MSoft man to head up the company, I suppose it was inevitable that he would reach a deal with MSoft on phone software.  Probably a big mistake.  Microsoft has never really been a phone company and has been running behind Apple and Google for months now - as a (relatively) late arrival on the phone scene its chances of catching up are remote.  I suspect that we are not only seeing the beginning of the end for Nokia, but perhaps the beginning of the end for Microsoft.  Inconceivable?  Well, all companies have a lifetime and if you pause to think of how many computer companies have disappeared or have been eaten by other companies, you'll realise that there's no such thing in this industry as an improbable event.