Attitudes Towards the Inexorable Reality of Indexed Journals
Indexed journals and the need to publish in them as a pre-requisite for being able to defend my doctoral thesis are the news of the day in my current situation, and reading up on the matter I came across a very useful article describing one of the two different attitudes with which we tend to approach such a tricky issue.
With the precision of a researcher and the pedagogical awareness of a teacher, the author, a university lecturer (and, to judge from the photo, a young one at that), explains the numerous casuistics and parameters we need to consider when deciding where and how to submit our research papers in order successfully to comply with some of the new regulatory obligations affecting doctoral students and those embarking on academic careers which need to be continuously nurtured with merits and publications. This approach to the problem, one of submission, responsibility and obedience, is rooted in acceptance of the fact that ultimately there is no other way out: we have no alternative but to come to terms with all the complexities of publishing and familiarise ourselves with JCR, SJR and quartile indices, citation algorithms and national and international institutions like ANECA, CNEAI and AVERY, which up until now we had only vaguely heard of and whose objectives, functions and relevance to our research activity we found it almost impossible to define.
In another article, this time written by a professor with long teaching experience, a fascinating professional career and numerous buildings and books to his name, I was surprised to find a text full of references to archetypal characters from the university community. They included Professor Tremendus Curriculum, specialist Indexation Guaranteed, researcher Trix Aplenty, associate lecturer Creativity Admin, student Ern Points, the poor Evi Dent-Bungler, member of the Gang research group, the Irish author of an as yet unread thesis Enniole Baloney, and the delightful oriental girl Yu Scratch Mai Bak.
I must admit I empathised somewhat with this text for its critical tone regarding the tyranny of indexed journals and the absurd, obligatory indessation which, thanks to the limitations imposed by the otherwise necessary desire for objectivity in the publication process, is currently shutting out researchers of international prestige. When I got to the end of it, however, I realised that the article had aged badly in just six years. It would take a very generous disposition to overlook the impromptu tone of the author’s reference to the oriental girl, or indeed to any of his other departmental colleagues, who he quite openly looks down on and ridicules. Coming from an architect and author of well-known, highly esteemed books – not to mention a senior university professor – I found it surprising that the text had been published by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC). Or perhaps that was precisely the reason why it had been published. The text ends with a postscript in which the author quite rightly criticises a system capable of shutting out a great researcher, communicator and best-selling author like Saskia Sassen for not meeting the criteria required to obtain six-year terms and accreditation – an issue which had resurfaced in the Spanish press in the preceding weeks with reports about other prestigious researchers.
In conclusion, it can only be said that, regardless of its (arguably) ironic tone, the second of the two articles offers just as much of a reflection on the situation we have suddenly found ourselves facing as the first. We all stand somewhere between those two extremes of acceptance and indignation, in a predicament made inevitable by having to comply with regulations that, however much they strive to be objective, seem unsatisfactory to everyone and downright unfair to some.
The debate, together with the opportunity to improve processes and objectives, is served. We should make the best of it.