July 27, 2012

Publishing in the RP special issue

At the end of last month’s #oi2012 workshop, the special issue editors gave some recommendations to those interested in publishing in the special issue. I summarized a few key points for those at the conference. Below are my notes on the process (delayed until after we got caught up with our promised feedback for conference authors).

The editors are looking for strong, RP-quality papers to fill the special issue. The added considerations are that the paper fits in the special issue — both by fitting the theme and complementing the portfolio of articles that we’ve selected. (The 2003 open source and 2006 Teece special issues are good examples of such portfolios.)

I offered these four recommendations to prospective authors:
  • Write about an important issue in open innovation. Some authors start with an issue they find interesting and then add a few cites to “fit” the paper to open innovation; given the large body of OI papers, this is often less successful than starting from what’s already been said (or not said).
  • Start with the most relevant literature, which will be both inside and outside open innovation. As Ammon Salter reminded conference presenters, don’t write a history of open innovation — in a conference (or special issue) you are writing for people who already know about open innovation.
  • Make it interesting — for the reviewers, editors and eventual readers.
  • Finally, what’s new? What can we do now that we couldn’t do earlier?
Many of these would apply to publishing in any context.

The deadline remains August 31. Each paper will be assigned one of the four guest editors — due to subject matter, workload or avoiding conflicts of interest. If we get more papers than available reviewers (we got 78 papers on April 15), then the editors will have to decide which ones go for review and which ones don’t (desk reject).

One thing I didn’t think to mention at the conference: The editors have the option of considering a “Research Note,” which RP defines as
Research Notes - typically of 3-5,000 words, this category is a vehicle for specific types of material that merit publication, but do not require all the 'normal' components of a full research article. This might cover, for example, specific aspects of methodology that have broad relevance for RP readers, or short reports about specific sets or types of data (and their access and use) that merit publication without the full set of requirements for a normal article. It might also be relevant, for example, for updating an earlier RP paper, where it is not necessary to repeat the literature review, methodology etc.
The advantage for RP (and the special issue) is that a research note can make a narrower point more succinctly and not use up as many pages; I personally think this could work well to support our portfolio strategy. The disadvantage is that the editorial review process for a note — soliciting and monitoring reviewers — is as much work for the editors as for a full article, even if it’s slightly easier for the reviewers; thus, in the first round the note is competing with full-length articles for a limited supply of reviewers, even if the final acceptance bar could be lower.

Finally, on to unpleasant subjects: unethical behavior. At the closing session, Ammon Salter reminded us of the earlier presentation by Ben Martin. In his talk on “20 challenges for innovation studies,” Martin mentioned that Research Policy has been dealing with a variety of cases of academic dishonesty, including plagiarizing others and self-plagiarism (which Ben called “salami slicing.”) [This was three weeks before Martin published the retraction of two RP papers on patent licensing.]

Here is an excerpt of the RP policies:
Research Policy and Elsevier adhere to the highest standards with regard to research integrity and in particular the avoidance of plagiarism, including self-plagiarism. It is therefore essential that authors, before they submit a paper, carefully read the Ethics Ethical guidelines for journal publication - see http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/intro.cws_home/ethical_guidelines#Duties of Authors. Particular attention should be paid to the sections under 'Duties of Authors' on 'Originality and Plagiarism' and 'Multiple, Redundant or Concurrent Publication'.
RP expects that authors will fully disclose any multiple, redundant or concurrent publication. Ammon reminded authors to include any such disclosure in their submission letters.

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