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How to Publish in

High Impact Journals

Malaysia, November 2012

Bezalel Gavish
Information Technology and Operations Management
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX 75205

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Topics to be Covered
• We will address issues faced by Faculty, Students and
• The Journal Editorial Structure
• The Publisher/s objective and structure
• The review process, steps and duration
• Structure of good research
• Structure of a good paper
• Errors made during the submission process
• How to increase the chances to pass successfully the
paper review process
• The big problem faced by an author (the big elephant)

The Journal Editorial Structure


Editor in Chief
Administrative Assistant

Associate Editor Associate Editor Associate Editor

Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer Reviewer

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The Publisher/s Objectives and Structure
Primary objective:
Secondary objective
Journals Manager
Print Manager
Online (web) Handler
Hard Copy Print Handler

Review Process - Steps and Duration
• The author/s submits the paper
• The administrative assistant (AA) checks that all
formal requirements have been satisfied
– In our case, affiliations, Email addresses, Point of contact, abstract,
format of paper, bibliographies (format and order), biographies and
– Sent back for formal corrections
– AA asks the EIC for an AE
• The EIC provides 3 potential AEs (ordered)
• The AA sends the paper to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd AE until an
AE agrees to handle the review
• The AE finds 3 reviewers that agree to review the
paper (sometimes he rejects on his own)

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Review Process - Steps and Duration
• The AE collects the reviews, analyzes them and
reaches a recommendation
– Outright reject, Reject with option to resubmit treated as
new, Revise and re-review, Minor revision, Accept
• The authors act based on the recommendation
• The article is reviewed again and if accepted, the
author is given instructions what they have to submit
for publication
• AA checks the final submission, if correct sends it to
the publisher
• The EIC instructions to AEs:
– If in doubt, reject
– Provide useful feedback to authors even to rejected papers
so they can improve their research.

The Review Process is not Perfect
The review process can’t be perfect
After all it consists of human beings who are not
It is rare that rejections are done out of malice
 I know of one case, a very famous person reviewed a paper for me in a
top journal
 He wrote a 12 page dense review justifying a rejection
 The author complained and explained the situation
 I sent his paper directly to 5 reviewers
 The paper was published
 The famous person does not speak with me anymore
The case of Prof. Christofides, developed what is one
of the most important results in heuristics and
combinatorial optimization
 He submitted it to Operations Research
 The EIC (Prof. Nemhouser) rejected it because it was too short (2
pages of printed material)
My first paper, a reviewers group set on it for 2 years

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Structure of Good Research
• Good research is similar to laying bricks

• Selecting something that interests you, and

• Can’t be solved by a consulting or commercial firm
• It helps if it is an important or new subject
• Find and read all relevant existing literature. How:
• It is a transitive closure problem
• You start from a small set, friends can point you in the right direction
• find all papers referencing a paper in the set
• Continue the process until you have the full set.
• Find out the papers that are referenced most , they are probably the
most important papers
• Identify the leading people in the field

Structure of a Good Research
• Do your research
– Prepare a draft of a paper
– Prepare a presentation of the research and results
– Present and receive feedback
• Show your results to a few known researchers in the
field that you trust their integrity and ask for their
comments (acknowledge their help in the acknowledgement
– Revise the paper (acknowledge feedback)
• Give a few presentations in good institutions and
receive feedback
– Revise the paper (acknowledge feedback)
• Select the appropriate journal (quality and target
– Format and style the paper to the target Journal
• Submit for publication and pray

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Importance of Access to Previous
 Before you delve into the specific research, you have
to be familiar with existing research in the field
 Less chances that you will duplicate results done by others
 You learn on research methods and useful results
 Learn the style of writing in the field
 How can university administrators help?
 Have stocked libraries
 Encourage inter-library loans (country and regional)
 Form or join an online consortium
 Use the internet and its vast resources
 Subscribe and receive access to large deposits of working

Structure of a Good Paper
 Spend time selecting the target journal
 Study the journal, its style and format of papers
 Select an informative and attractive title
 Abstract – What is new and important in the paper
 Introduction and literature review – be expensive and give
credit to earlier research
 Describe and explain the research (clearly)
 Describe the results, make clear what is new (yours)
 Describe what are the implications of your results
 Propose open questions and directions for future research
 Provide acknowledgements to everyone who helped,
commented on your paper and research
 Bibliography according to the journal policy
 If 30 is the typical number, provide around 30 references
 References should be relevant to the paper and cited
 Try to imagine a relevant reviewer who does not see his relevant
paper in your references

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Errors made During the Submission
 Improper formatting of the paper
 Figures, tables split over pages
 Improper citing of references
 Missing figures, tables
 Grammatical and spelling errors
 It is not the function of the journal to correct the language
 Deans – make sure that students learn technical English
 Very short relevant reference list
 A short list (5 versus 25-50)
 Indicates that the authors did not bother to read and discover the
relevant literature
 High chance that one of the not mentioned paper authors will be a
 Spend time to find out what is customary in your specific field
 Outdated references (2004 in 2012)

Errors made During the Submission
 Not providing everything asked for on the journal web
 Primary contact person
 Affiliations, emails of authors
 Copies of relevant self publications
 Acknowledgments to Deans, spiritual leaders
indicates politics and not science, a no no
 Acknowledging financial support is fine
 Providing a list of AEs, Reviewers for the paper
 Cover letter addressed to other journals
 Plagiarism !!!!!!!

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Plagiarism is a situation in which an author copies or
uses material from another paper and “forgets” to
attribute it to the original author
It is a practice common in some countries and
It is the worst offense
The paper is rejected immediately
The author/s are put on an alert list and will not be permitted
to publish in top journals
What is so terrible in it?
It is an offense in which not only the author is
punished, but its institution or country is
The plagiarist inflicts costs on others

How we handle it in our journals (first offense)?
When a paper arrives from a list of problematic
countries or institutions
We send the submitting author a letter with an option
to withdraw the paper without direct penalty
We state that if they continue and the paper is flagged as
We will send a letter stating it to the Dean, President of his
institution letting them to deal with it.
Most plagiarists withdraw the paper
Most plagiarisms are caught by the reviewers
Excellent tools exist to catch plagiarism, graph
isomorphism and other methods exist. They are
becoming better over time.

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How to Avoid Plagiarism
If you use material copied from another paper or
heard about it in a conference or private
communication, make sure:
To put it in quotes
Cite and reference the source (near the quotes or footnote)
Do it even of it is your own paper/published results
It will not work if over 5 percent of your paper is in quotes
Do not give the impression that it is your own idea,
when it is not
Clearly specify what is your contribution and what is
others contribution
In some institutions or countries it is not emphasized
how bad and immoral plagiarism is
The case of an author who asked me to explain what
plagiarism is

The Authors Dilemma


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The Competitive Dilemma Faced by
an Author
What is the competitive dilemma faced by an
In order to advance in an academic career:
Approval of a PhD Thesis
Tenure and Promotion
Salary raises
Research budget, conferences
Status in the academic community
A researcher has to publish in top ranked journals in
his field of research
So what is the problem (the macro problem)?

The Competitive Dilemma Faced by an
 How many research oriented departments exist in
a field?
 Globaly around 500
 On average how many researchers exist in each
 Roughly 5
 Each department requires 1 to 2 papers published
per year in a top ranked journal (we will use 1.5
articles per year)
 Thus the aggregate demand in a field is for
500x5x1.5 = 3750 published articles
per year

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The Competitive Dilemma Faced by an
 How many top ranked acceptable Journals exist in
each field?
 5-20 journals depending on the field, assume 10
 On average how many issues per year are
published by a journal?
 12 issues
 How many articles are published per issue?
 6 articles
 Thus the aggregate publication capacity in a field
is for
10x12x6 = 720 articles per year

The Competitive Dilemma Faced by an
 How do we bridge that gap between?
The demand The supply
3750 720
When the requirement is for one paper/year
2500 720
 This is an impossible situation.
 Some ideas:
 Do research and publish with other authors
 Each author can count it in his reports
 Submit only high quality research results
 Try to develop new methods to evaluate the
research potential of faculty members

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How to Increase the Chances to Pass
Successfuly the Paper Review Process
 Make sure you reference all previous relevant work
 Never assume that the reviewers are biased
 If they misunderstood something in the paper IT IS
YOUR FAULT, you did not explain it in a way easy to
 Referees are volunteers and do not have spare time
to understand things that are not explained clearly
 Go to conferences, try to interact with leading people
in the field, send them your working papers, ask for
their comments, acknowledge their feedback, try to
connect it to something that they have done.
 Never show that you are upset, you don’t know when
you will meet them again.

How to Encourage Top Rank
Publications by Faculty
Reward faculty for top rank journal publications
Salary raises
Publication Awards
Teaching professors versus research faculty
Participation in international conferences
Most conference publications do not count at
all at top US universities
Lower teaching and administrative tasks on
productive research faculty
Citations and impact indexes are good for a
first cut of journal rankings

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PhD Education at Top Programs
• The issue of quality versus Quantity
• Not everyone that begins a PhD program has to
• Structure of PhD programs (after BSc)
Top US PhD The European Model
PhD Master
Master level (2)
level (2) PhD
• At the University of Rochester
– 12 students per year admitted
– 6 students made it to the 2nd year
– 3 made it to a degree (PhD)
– The PhD graduates were outstanding

Tell The world about your existance

 World means:
 Leading figures in the field
 Up and coming other researchers
 How do you do it?
 Identify leading figures from journal publications
(high citations, keynote speakers)
 Send them your papers for comments, comment on
their papers (positively, or helpful)
 Try to meet them at conferences (best are small
 Put your working papers on paper sites
 Volunteer to organize sessions in conferences, an
excuse to contact many researchers

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How to Publish in
High Impact Journals
Malaysia, November 2012

Topics to be covered

•My advice to PhD students the safe bat is to always

assume that someone has done it already,
•Not every research result has to be published
•Many times I work on something solve it and than
decide that what looked difficult when I began is easy
once solved.
•My drawers are full with research results that will
never be submitted by me for publication

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For further information about this lecture email to: Dr. Mazdak Zamani <>