North, south, east, west, center and periphery: helping Eastern Mediterranean researchers find their place in the academic mapamundi
Karen Shashok (Spain)
Researchers everywhere are under pressure to publish. Developing countries whose research output is increasing rapidly have adopted “western” and “northern” research evaluation polices despite their methodological shortcomings. These policies have a direct influence on the criteria researchers use to decide what to publish and where to publish it.
I propose that translators, authors’ editors and other professionals who assist researchers need to understand their career goals and priorities so that we can ensure that the support we provide is aligned with researchers’ desired outcomes and good professional practices in scholarly communication.
Researchers often use the impact factor rather than the journal’s readership to decide where to submit their manuscript. An additional priority is often speed, i.e., acceptance and publication as soon as possible. However, researchers often find it difficult to understand and comply with increasingly detailed, complex guidelines for manuscript preparation and submittal. Researchers can benefit from guidance on how to understand and compare journals’ priorities for content, the quality and transparency of their editorial policies, and the efficiency of their publication processes. According to feedback from participants in training events in Eastern Mediterranean countries, they value very highly learning how to compare journal characteristics that influence whether their manuscript will be given a respectful reading and will proceed smoothly through the review and publication process. Training focused on journal policies and journal selection strategies, as a complement to training in research writing and “good scientific English style”, can thus equip scholars in emerging research communities in the “east” and “south” with knowledge and skills they can use to compete successfully in the international publication game. At the same time, interactions with authors provide opportunities to increase their awareness of other potentially important criteria they can use to decide what and where to publish.
Karen Shashok: As a freelance translator and editorial consultant since the mid-1980s, I’ve written about translation, author’s editing, peer review and editorial ethics, and have provided training in Spanish and English for researchers and editors on several continents. As a member of professional development organizations for journal editors, I’ve tried to bring the perspective of researchers and editors from emerging and resource-limited research communities to the attention of western, English-speaking gatekeepers and experts in research ethics. In the late 2000s I began AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean (http://www.authoraidem.org) as a volunteer project.