SJfinder gets a serious update

SJFinder logoA group of scientists and technologists from Stanford University (US) and KU Leuven (Belgium) launched SJFinder in 2013 to help researchers find the right journal to publish in based on the title and abstract of their manuscript. Since then a number of new functionalities have been added to the site. The idea is to offer a collection of tools to researchers to give them more control over their networking and communication. 

Rate Journal SJFinder

Rate journals on SJFinder

Beyond the journal suggestions, SJFinder now also allow you to rate journals based on their reading and submission experiences. In an ideal world, submission would be chosen not on impact factor, but 1) on the traditional readership of the journal (if any) and 2) on the quality of the service provided by the publisher (i.e smoothness of peer review process, delay from submission to online availability, metrics on article, promotion of article).

SJFinder also helps you discover the literature, like other tools out there. In this case the simplicity of the user interface is especially appealing. Simply click on the fields that most interest you, and SJFinder will generate a list of the latest papers in that field. You can also subscribe by journal, but I personally think there something nice about exploring the literature by field and not by journal. Perhaps it is because it makes me less journal-biased and make it more likely to stumble upon interesting works and concepts.

map SJFinder

Find labs by exploring a map on SJFinder

To help you find new collaborations and showcase your work, SJFinder rolled out two other functionalities. First, an interactive map helps you find research labs anywhere in the world. You can brows the labs by research fields, location, or by keyword, and explore the map. You can also easily add your own labs to the directory. The benefit of having a world-wide database of lab displayed on a map is pretty clear to me. I would use it to find new local collaborations. Sometime a hallway is enough to separate groups that would otherwise collaborate wonderfully. Or to find laboratories that I could easily go visit while at a conference.

And second, SJFinder launched a drag-and-drop website builder to let you build a website for your lab. This will makes it possible for the many researchers with limited resources of time and capital to create a website and showcase their work. It might sound almost old fashioned, but in my mind a website is a must for any research group. This, along with other similar tools, are great way to get started at building your online presence.

The peer-review process under review with SciRev

SciRevI am probably not going to surprise you much by saying that the peer-review process of research articles could be improved. As I see it, peer-review should be an opportunity for researchers to improve their work. It should help detect flaws in the methodologies used and advise on how to improve the manuscript itself. But sadly, for many, peer-review feels like an unproductive waste of time, with sometimes endless waiting periods when the manuscript is in the hands of editors or slow reviewers. Even more frustrating is when the feedback consists of minimalistic reviews that bring little to the work. But things are slowly changing. Many journals now advertise their quick turn arounds and their network of competent and responsive reviewers. But with thousands of research journals in activity, it can be hard for researchers to know which journal is doing a good job at it and which are not.

SciRev is a platform that allows researchers to publish reviews of their experience with the peer-review process of specific journals. Facts including: the duration of the first review round, total handling time, number of reviewers, quality of the reviews, and an overall rating are displayed. A very useful “motivation” section also allows users to explain a bit about their experience with the journal. This usually gives interesting insights on the peer-review process. SciRev also allows you to compare several journal side by side.

Review of journals by users.

Review of journals by users.

The reviews seemed to be well balanced between the positive and the more negative. SciRev also gathers very valuable data that could help grasp the problems in the publishing sector. Based on the user data, SciRev also provides interesting statistics about the review process within various scientific fields (see below).

Rejection time and duration of the first round of review averaged for all scientific fields

This initiative, along with others that help researchers choose the right journals to publish in, will likely play a role in improving the publishing system. Indeed, the cost supported by universities associated with publication and with subscription to journals, should come with a matching service. For the price, we should expect services such as open access, innovative ways of communicating the research, and an efficient peer review process. Such journal-rating platforms could become key to identifying the journal that are ahead of the game.

Journal Guide helps you find, compare and rate journals

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 1.03.11 PMSo, after years at the bench, months fighting with your co-authors about the wording of the second phrase of the 5th paragraph, you are ready to publish! The question is, where should we publish the paper? With over 25,000 journals to choose from, the possibilities are plentiful and can be overwhelming. And for your paper to have impact, you must find your audience and thus find the journal that your audience reads…

Journal Guide is a platform that helps authors navigate through this profusion of scientific journals. It asks for your paper’s title and abstract, then extracts the important keyword and identifies a series of journals that seem to be a good fit.

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Example of search result in Journal Guide

The results are displayed in a table (see image above) with the search score, journal name, publisher and impact factor. For each journal, Journal Guide also identifies published articles that are related to your title and abstract. If others in your field have chosen a particular journal, you might want to consider it as well. Once you have chosen a couple of journals that seem appropriate, Journal Guide offers a tool to compare their characteristics side by side (see screen capture below).

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Comparison of three different journals

At any time during your search, clicking on the name of the journal will display another layer of information. There, one can learn about the journal’s aims and scope, costs and open access policies. But even more interesting is the ability of users to provide anonymous feedbacks about their personal experience with the journal. Information such as the speed of publication can be particularly useful.

Another online service provided by Edanz also helps authors decide on a journal by analyzing title and abstract. Journal Guide pushes the concept further by offering user accounts, side by side journal comparisons and journal rating. Although still in new and in beta version, Journal Guide has the potential to help create a more healthy competition between journals by making it easier to compare them and can already help young researchers better promote their research by choosing the right journal.

Out of curiosity, I have tested a few of my publications. Entering the title and abstract and looking down the list to see how the journal that I have selected are ranked by Journal Guide.  Some of my articles came up with the journal I published in as first choice. Others did not even show the journal they are published in. Perhaps this is a sign that the choice of journal can be quite irrational some times. Journal Guide could help us make more objective decision.

Journal Guide is a division of Research Square, a for profit organization also creators of AJE and Rubriq.