Choosing the right journal is as important as the research itself observed Prof. Tunde Opeibi of the Department of English, University of Lagos (UNILAG)

– Dons and scholars reveal what it takes to get one’s article published in reputed journals

Chika Abanobi

To do a high quality academic research but eventually have it published in a ‘low-impact’ journal is like winking in the dark: only you know what you are doing; no one else knows. This is the nugget of truth that dons and scholars who presented papers at the 1st National Workshop on Pragmatics Research hosted recently by the Department of English, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo sought to drive home in the minds of both the established and aspiring academic researchers, as they explored, paper after paper, the pre-workshop symposium entitled, “How to publish in high impact journals.”

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Choosing the right journal is as important as the research itself observed Prof. Tunde Opeibi of the Department of English, University of Lagos (UNILAG), who opened the floor with his paper, “High-Impact Journals: Definition, Scope and Distinctions.”

“There is a right journal for every good paper,” he added. Very good and important papers have been killed in non-standard journals, he warned, which he said are published mostly in Nigeria and India. He counseled researchers not to be afraid of being rejected by high impact journals.

“If you don’t want to be criticized then you cannot be in academics.”

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He described a standard, academic journal as a double blind peer reviewed international journal, institution-based journals, stand alone journals with long years of reputation and/or reputable publishing-house sponsored journals, having on its editorial board high calibre scholars and renowned international discipline-specific experts.

“High impact journals are journals considered to be highly influential in their fields,” he said.

“A journal impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which an average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The impact factor is calculated by dividing the number of citations in the JCR (Journal Citation Report) year by the total number of articles published in the two previous years. An Impact Factor of 1.0 means that, on the average, the articles published one or two years ago have been cited one time. It is better to publish one paper in a quality journal than multiple papers in lesser journals. To publish in journals that have high impact factors; chances are your paper will have high impact, too, if accepted.”

In his own paper entitled “Choice of Journals, Topics and Overall Paper Structuring,” Prof. Innocent Chiluwa, of Department of English, Covenant University, Ota, agreed with Opeibi that choosing the right journal is as important as the paper itself. “Some articles are rejected because they were sent to journals that would generally return the verdict: ‘outside our scope’ or “not within the scope of this journal,” he said. But the truth, he added, is, there is a right journal for every good paper.

He listed some of them as follows: journals of discourse studies include: Discourse studies (SAGE), Discourse & Society (SAGE), Discourse and Communication (SAGE), Discourse Processes (Taylor & Francis), TEXT & TALK (De Gruyter), Journal of Language and Politics (John Benjamins), Critical Discourse Studies (Taylor & Francis), Language and Communication (Elsevier), Research in Language and Social Interaction (Taylor & Francis) etc. Publishing in reputable and high-impact journals holds a lot of promise, he posited.

“It not only gives you (if published) global recognition but also prepares you for great opportunities in the academic career. If your paper is rejected, you receive quality reviews, training and guidance on how to write publishable articles. Unfortunately, some scholars dislike criticism, ‘delay’ or quality review. Such scholars fall prey to predatory (exploitative) journals.”

Speaking under the subtopic: “The Challenges of Predatory Journals and Publishers: Choosing where to publish,” he regretted that academics and authors appear to be under pressure to publish their works for the purpose of promotion and tenure.

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“The choice of the right publisher or journal becomes more complicated with the rise of online “predatory journals” and “predatory publishers. In conclusion, he listed lack of focus, insufficient literature, insufficient data, poor analysis, length of article and clarity of expressions as some of the reasons many research papers are rejected by reputable journals.

More than 80 percent of papers are rejected because they lack depth in data analysis, reports Prof. Rotimi Taiwo, of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. He presented a paper entitled “Analytical Depth in High Impact Journals.”

“Data is not collected haphazardly. There must be some form of systematicity in your collection of data,” he told the audience which comprises students, undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as teachers and academic scholars.

“You must have a goal because there’s an inseparable connection between data collection and analysis. Data analysis is as important to data collection/ research as medical diagnosis is to a medical doctor.”

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In the course of his presentation, he counseled further: “It is no longer fashionable to draw your data from predetermined goal. Only proper interpretation of your data will make your research rich and meaningful. Therefore, it will help to keep human biases away from some issues. You may have your personal impression or opinion but you need to be objective.”

He noted that once a researcher’s data is faulted the premise on which the research depends is automatically considered faulty.

Giving an insight into what it takes to do a proper analysis, he admonished academic researchers to choose a theoretical framework. “There’s no way you can claim to do a qualitative analysis without a theoretical framework,” he said.

“Before you begin the analysis, know the questions you are trying to answer or address. Think ahead.”

Secondly, he urged researchers to give their papers to others to read and criticize. But not to anybody, he warned.

“Give it to someone whom you feel is more knowledgeable and exposed. Let your assumptions be known to other people. If you did not find anything significant in your research then your research is probably not significant.”

Prof. Adeleke Fakoya, immediate past Dean, Faculty of Arts, Lagos State University, who presented a paper entitled “Language and Style in High Impact Journals” took the argument further when he insisted on “first thing first.” “What kind of paper do you write”, he asked rhetorically.

“A lot of people write newspaper, toilet paper and wrapping paper, instead of research paper.” His opening remarks which set the tone for other things he was to say brought down the hall with widespread excitement, laughter and side talks.

“Do you know the grammar of research writings, he queried further.

While colleagues who spoke before him dwelt on what it takes to turn in a good paper for high-impact journal, he said, he would like to approach the issue from the opposite angle or direction: pitfalls to avoid while trying to put together a research work we feel should appear in a good journal. He listed some of them as: Bibliophobia (fear or hatred of books, not reading wide enough to dig up nuggets of facts for proper grounding of one’s research work); Marginality of Knowledge (which leaves a researcher with a little learning which they say is a dangerous thing; continuous and consistent research, he insists, will fill a researcher with profound knowledge of his subject); Researcher narcissism (which confines a researcher to their cold, comfort zone) and Technophobia (which makes the researcher afraid to draw from online resources which he said are always current and more authoritative).

“You cannot write well and convincingly if you don’t read widely,” he argued. “Meaningful reading helps you to sharpen your research skill.”

Self-respecting, dignified researchers, he said, do not like to have their works appear in what he called jeun jeun journals. But then he added that high impact journals detest the following research misconducts: (1) data fabrication (2) plagiarism (3) image manipulation (4) biased reporting (5) authorship abuse and (6) redundant or duplicate publication.

The reference to “low impact journal,” “local journal” or “jeun jeun journals” during the paper presentations drew a lot of questions from the audience during the question-and-answer session. While some wanted to know what constitutes a low impact or local journal and why they should be avoided, others wanted to know how to measure depth in research.

What makes a journal local or low impacting is not necessarily the location, Prof. Chiluwa said but the spread. Such journals demand monetary gratifications from the contributors before they could have their works published, he said. Secondly, most, if not all the contributors are located in one particular area or region of the country, without anyone coming from outside the circle. But in answering the question, he added that publications like Odu and Okike cannot be called low impact journals because although they are located in particular regions of the world, they have contributions and contributors from different parts of the world to service them.

On what constitutes depth, Prof. Taiwo said that length of an article is not necessarily part of it. Depth, he notes, involves originality, creativity and insightfulness. It includes a research work being educative and informative.

Making a contribution during the question-and-answer session, Prof. Adebayo Lawal of University of Ilorin, condemned what he tagged the local recycling of issues that have already been exhaustively dealt with in civilized parts of the world while we neglect our own problems.