Dump Journals

January 17, 2013

To be absolutely clear, I use the term “dump journal” without malice. Some do, I know, but I do not. I use it to refer to journals of last resort. The ones where you and your subfield are perfectly willing to publish stuff and, more importantly, perfectly willing to cite other papers. Sure, it isn’t viewed as awesome, but it is….respectable. The Editor and sub-editors, probably the editorial board, are known people. Established figures who publish most of their own papers in much, much higher IF journals. It is considered a place where the peer review is solid, conducted by appropriate experts who, btw, review extensively for journals higher up the food chain.

What interests me today, Dear Reader, are the perceptions and beliefs of those people who are involved in the dump journal. Authors who submit work there, the Editor and any sub-editors….and the reviewers. Do we all commonly view the venue in question as a “dump journal”? Or are there those that are surprised and a bit offended that anyone else would consider their solid, society level journals as such a thing?

PatheticImpFactorAre there those who recognize that others view the journal as a dump journal but wish to work to change this reputation? By being harsher during the review process than is warranted given the history of the journal? That approach is a game of chicken though…if you think a dump journal is getting too uppity for its current IF then you are going to just move on to some other journal for your data-dumping purposes, are you not? If a publisher or journal staff wanted to make a serious move up the relative rankings, they’d better have a plan and a steely nerve if you ask me.

This brings me around to my fascination with PLoS ONE and subjective notions of its quality and importance. What IS this journal? Is it a dumping grounds for stuff you had rejected elsewhere on “importance” and “impact” grounds and you just want the damn data out there already? That would qualify as a dump journal in my view. Or do you view it as a potential primary venue…because it enjoys an IF in the 4s and that’s well into run-of-the-mill decent for your subfield?

Furthermore, how does this color your interaction with the journal? I know we have a few folks around here who function as Academic Editors. Are you one of those that thinks PLoS ONE should be ever upping its “quality” in an attempt to improve the reputation? Do you fear it becoming a “dump journal”? Or do you embrace that status?

Are you involved with another journal that some might consider a dump journal for your field? Do you think of it this way yourself? Or do see it as a solid journal and it is that other journal, 0.245 IF points down, which is the real dump journal?

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No Responses Yet to “Dump Journals”

  1. Jim Woodgett Says:

    Many researchers have already voted with their submissions in terms of PLoS ONE and it is unfair to characterize it as a “dump journal”. It has standards and rejects about a third of papers submitted. Whether PLoS ONE ultimately succeeds will depend on its continued evolution and its clearly experimenting with a variety of initiatives (as are more traditional journals). The fact is that a lot of really cool experiments don’t work out the way you initially expected. That’s fine as long as the technical approach was robust. Indeed, if there isn’t a place to publish material that is well performed but doesn’t change thinking, then we’ll be more reticent about trying those experiments in the first place. And surely the funding agencies prefer to see that their money yielded knowledge that has been shared with others?

    The challenge is to avoid overzealous “dumping” such that only material that has some level of merit is published – but how to judge overall merit especially at the time of publication? On the other hand, page charges help to disincentivize dumping to a degree and might be a sufficient form of filter.

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  2. drugmonkey Says:

    It has standards and rejects about a third of papers submitted.

    as do the dump journals to which I am referring in this post.

    The challenge is to avoid overzealous “dumping” such that only material that has some level of merit is published

    The fact that many members of a subfield cite said dump journals, and are willing to use them now and again for their own work, implies “some level of merit”.

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  3. Andy Says:

    I am a volunteer academic editor for PLOS ONE (but speaking here as a private citizen), and I can say that in my field of vertebrate paleontology a few view it as a “dump” journal (with all of the bad connotations that implies), some view it as a “middling” journal, and many view it as a highly desirable venue. It’s turning into a major venue for large papers that would be too long for other journals. Overall, I would say that although opinions are generally favorable, they are also highly variable. I guess I’m an “OA wackaloon” in that I really like the fact that perceived article sexiness isn’t a factor for PLOS ONE article acceptance.

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  4. drugmonkey Says:

    It’s turning into a major venue for large papers that would be too long for other journals.

    I can definitely see this as a benefit. Have been getting kind of pissy myself this year at word count and figure count constraints.

    I really like the fact that perceived article sexiness isn’t a factor for PLOS ONE article acceptance.

    ’tis not that that makes for the wackaloon. you need wild-eyed evangelical fervor for that achievement

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  5. In my experience PLoS ONE reviews are every bit as rigorous as those of other journals I have had experience with. The only difference is that the “is this paper in the top x%?” check box is missing.

    You can see my reviews here: http://proteinsandwavefunctions.blogspot.dk/search/label/reviews

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  6. Dude, if this is how you define “dump” journals, then we need a new word for those fucken journals I get a half dozen invitations per day to join their editorial boards from publishers like “Hindawi” and fucke knows who else. What do we call them?

    Subdump?
    Dumpster?
    Loose dump?

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  7. bill Says:

    “you need wild-eyed evangelical fervor for that achievement”

    You rang?

    But seriously, words don’t mean what you want ’em to mean. “Dump” carries irremediable connotations of crap, garbage, etc. If you want a term to use “without malice” you need to find a different one.

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  8. drugmonkey Says:

    I think you lads are way over focused on semantics.

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  9. @Comrade
    I’m not even sure half of those journals are real; they are like those conferences with purposely vague names like “Genomic Studies” that are held somewhere in China and say they want you to be a speaker if you register.

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  10. Laurent Says:

    I’d certainly be refered to as a botanist or a plant biologist, even if I spent an important amount of early career with pollen grains and would like to qualify as a “palynologist”, even if just for fun or sub-vanity. To do that, I still need to publish in a journal every palynologist would consider a true pollen journal. The very first journal in palynology I can aim for is Grana (IF around 0.5). I’m pushing a paper in this journal next, and achieve a dream for years (publishing in Grana is on my life-to-do list). I somewhat had a hard time convincing co-authors that it was important (not only to me) to have our work reach a greater palynological community.
    That said, I have to admit I’m not necessarily thinking of IF-based “impact”; citation is just a commodity to evaluate quantitatively and objectively impact. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that a study was completely useless or inappropriate if it doesn’t get cited. Sometimes it is cool or interesting to add pure knowledge nobody cares about.

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  11. Hindawi journals seem to be “real” in the sense that they actually publish papers, but I have never ever heard of anyone on any of the editorial boards of the journals in my areas, nor any of the authors of any of the papers in the few TOCs I have looked at.

    One of these journals has published hundreds of papers over the last few years and has an impact factor of 2. If you are publishing shitte that on average over a three-year period gets cited only twice, you are publishing garbage way below the importance of the shitte that gets published in the IF = 4-5 dump journals that DoucheMonkey is talking about. Just by citing your own fucken shitte, you should be able to get at least four or so citations in a three-year period.

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  12. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that a study was completely useless or inappropriate if it doesn’t get cited. Sometimes it is cool or interesting to add pure knowledge nobody cares about.

    Yeah, “cool” or “interesting” like beating off is “cool” or “interesting”. And the latter is a lot less expensive and time-consuming.

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  13. qaz Says:

    Comrade – You can call them what you will, but there is a definite difference between a journal-of-last-resort, where you put your paper so that it can be cited and because you are sick of fighting with the @$#! GlamourMagz and bogus journals that don’t even have real editors.

    I would call the first case “dump journals” and the second “bogus journals”.

    BTW, a dump journal has to be indexed in PubMed.

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  14. bill Says:

    I think you lads are way over focused on semantics.

    And I think words mean things, and we have to agree on what they mean otherwise banana snicker fugfug crocodile.

    See, that sentence makes perfect sense to me, I just had to redefine a few words. What’s your problem, semantic nitpicker?

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  15. Grumble Says:

    My favorite dump journal is “Life Sciences”.* But less so now that Elsevier took over from Pergamon and started typesetting the articles. Who needs that in a dump journal?

    *It’s my favorite because it’s impossible to refer to Life Sciences without chuckling, at least a little.

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  16. dsks Says:

    Sometimes its nice to have a smooth uninhibited dump with but modest impact. There’s less splashback and it doesn’t demand the side clenching exertions that must so often accompany the delivery of the kind of high impact emmission necessary to leave one’s unflushable mark on the porcelain fabric of progress these days.

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  17. Bill Says:

    PNAS

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  18. Physician Scientist Says:

    Wait a minute…those speaking invites from Chinese conferences aren’t real? They make up the basis of the “international reputation” on my tenure CV.

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  19. Personally, I do what I’ve been trained to do as a scientist, I follow the evidence (and I’ve recently reviewed it: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.3748 ) and that suggests that journal rank is like dowsing, homeopathy or astrology: a figment of our imagination that appeals to some subjective notions about certain effects, but when subjected to scientific scrutiny, these effects disappear.

    If anything, the HI-IF journals are dump journals, if the currently available empirical data is anything to go by.

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  20. dr_mho Says:

    @bjorn

    Interesting manuscript. What came to mind is how Science (with capital S) moves forward over time. (1) Via “big discoveries” published in high IF journals, many of which are later shown to be less amazing, but many hold true, leading to a saltatory progression dominated by a few impactful findings; or (2) Via nibbling at the edges, using historically reproducible observations, though each individual finding is of low impact. My instincts say the former is more important for progress, but the latter is still necessary.

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  21. Laurent Says:

    Comrade PhysioProf:
    Yeah, “cool” or “interesting” like beating off is “cool” or “interesting”. And the latter is a lot less expensive and time-consuming.

    I’m not sure as to how I should understand your argument. I take it that beating off is sometimes cool and interesting, sometimes cooler and more interesting than alternatives (if I don’t specify, this is always true but I understand that some people do prefer nothing over enjoying self, and I’m inclusive of the whole humanity in my understanding of the issue at stake). There are many ways in which it indeed is, to simply put in (sic!), because it doesn’t necessarily imply a mere lone and loon quick dirty job cuming out of necessity (sic!) but untrivially be a preliminary or an inside transitional job in an epic trip to mutual satisfaction (sick!).

    Just in case I overlooked that you were actually making the argument that beating off is uncool or uninteresting any time, or that data cuming out from uncited papers may not be of any interest, I’d then say there are ways to cope with it. Maybe just as in “jacking off all trades, mastering none” encourages you investigating the many aspects of coming that way instead of making your master art into a fucking routine.

    Have a look to those many sides in the discipline, you’ll certainly enjoy some of the stuff (sic!), even those that don’t make stuff in (suck!). It may help you finding the light (silly!). There’s some freaking good macaroni science that stays unnoticed behind the dusty pile of studies past and pastry (yep, this is a full sexual argument, enjoy!).

    Not to add that stuff stay uncited but end up making teaching freaking cooler, or help youngies finding their ways because beating off is still a major road taken, if not the only highway to science paradise, and that’s just good and totally fine.

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  22. AA Says:

    PLoS ONE is by definition a “dump journal” by virtue that it does not screen for the significance/importance of the work, but only whether it is “scientifically sound”.

    If the piece of work was ground breaking, *in theory* it would have been submitted and accepted at higher tier journals. I’m not even talking about C/N/S or PNAS, but just “best of the field” journals. So yes, when I read a PLoS ONE paper, I assume that either it was not good enough to be in better journals, or perhaps it could be a decent paper that got bounced down the IF ladder and ended up in PLoS ONE.

    The problem is that the acceptance rate is high and they publish a lot, which leaves me with the impression that they publish whatever “scientifically sound” crap they get. It’s on my list of Tier 3 (lowest tier) journals which is where all the dump journals are…

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  23. AA Says:

    Another problem with PLoS ONE is the IF factor is difficult to judge.

    When we analyze journals, we do “normalize” IF based on the top journal of our field (at least to some degree). For physics, Phys.Rev.Lett. is considered the best physics journal (getting published there is like getting published in Mol. Cell. for biologists). But its IF is 7, and an IF 7 journal in biology may be considered as decent but not top notch.

    Unfortunately, PLoS ONE publishes any science-related article, which makes its IF useless for comparison. From physics, PLoS ONE may look like a decent choice, but biologists it may be a dump journal. So until PLoS ONE comes up with a field-specific IF (i.e. chemistry, biology, physics for starters), its IF means nothing. Which is why I evaluate PLoS ONE by its acceptance rate. And at 80%, that is way too high. One of my society level journals also around IF 4 has an acceptance rate of 50%. So, I view PLoS one more like a IF 2-3 journal personally…

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  24. Dave Says:

    I’m not sure as to how I should understand your argument. I take it that beating off is sometimes cool and interesting, sometimes cooler and more interesting than alternatives (if I don’t specify, this is always true but I understand that some people do prefer nothing over enjoying self, and I’m inclusive of the whole humanity in my understanding of the issue at stake). There are many ways in which it indeed is, to simply put in (sic!), because it doesn’t necessarily imply a mere lone and loon quick dirty job cuming out of necessity (sic!) but untrivially be a preliminary or an inside transitional job in an epic trip to mutual satisfaction (sick!).

    ^LOL!!!!!

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  25. Dave Says:

    Some journals value first and trendy over being right.

    But when you want to build on something or cite something, what type of paper would you rather build upon or cite?

    PLoS One is gaining a reputation for publishing stuff that may not be first, or trendy, but is usually right. So people cite it.

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  26. Busy Says:

    Prediction: over time people will start mining PLoS articles for meta- and post- studies, and as a consequence PLoS papers will be the most cited ever.

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  27. DrugMonkey Says:

    And at 80%, that is way too high. One of my society level journals also around IF 4 has an acceptance rate of 50%. emphasis added

    Too many notes?

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  28. DrugMonkey Says:

    the IF factor is difficult to judge.

    because it covers so many fields eh? unlike say, oh…. Nature or Science, right?

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  29. AA Says:

    DM, For Nature, Science and PNAS, there is a historical track record of publishing quality / groundbreaking work most of the time. PLoS ONE has no such record, and neither does it promises to be.

    And since we know PLoS ONE will accept any scientifically sound paper from any field, it’s IF becomes useless when one wants to compare this journal relative to the journals in one’s field. Without more field specific citation, using the overall IF can be very misleading.

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  30. AA Says:

    Also, if you examine the trend of the PLoS journals, it’s obvious that they are setting up PLoS ONE to be the “dump journal” of the PLoS family. Submissions to PLoS field-specific journals (e.g. PLoS Genetics, PLoS Biology) have remained steady over the years, and their IF also reflect the good quality of work.

    On the other hand, the no. of published articles om PLoS ONE have soared over the years, and part of the reason or speculation (from what I’ve read, maybe this was covered by DM before), is to make money. PLoS gets money whenever people publish there, so they control/keep their PLoS field-specific journals for the quality work, and open up PLoS ONE as a “free-for-all publish-as-much-as-you cause it will give us money to fund our operations” journal.

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  31. DrugMonkey Says:

    AA you are dodging and weaving here. you complained about the broad coverage in PLoS ONE because fields with different Journal IF distributions (central tendency and variance) are being mixed up. same thing for Science and Nature, period. It isn’t just the association with the rare very highly cited paper (the skew) but also the field-association. Some papers in N/S are from fields where middling to good is in the 15 range, some are from fields where this is 8, some where it is 2!

    if you are going to complain about this feature of the Journal IF at P-1, apply it to S/N as well.

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  32. DrugMonkey Says:

    Nature and Science are also, AA, stacking up quite a record of high profile retractions and frauds. So you no doubt apply a corrective for this that is not necessary for PLoS ONE, since there is little motivation to fake data for a dump journal.

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  33. AA Says:

    Looks like this will need to spelled out explicitly. My analysis is based on the fact that I rank journals based on “tiers”, IF 4.1 vs 4.5 is the same, but IF 4.1 vs 8.2 is “significantly” different.

    So we have N/S with an IF of >30

    Here’s some samples of the “best of field” journals in
    Biology – Mol.Cell. (IF 14-ish)
    Chemistry – J.Am.Chem.Soc. (IF 9-ish)
    Physics – Phys.Rev.Lett. (IF 7-ish)

    How does N/S compare? N/S >> Mol.Cell./JACS/PRL. We know IF is not perfect, there are ways that it can be manipulated, but an IF of 30 is significantly higher than 14/9/7… that even with all the tricks one can use, we can say with a very high confidence that N/S papers are on average more “impactful” than Mol.Cell./JACS/PRL.

    Now, let’s go to PLoS ONE with an IF of 4, how does it fare? Based on IF alone, relative to the “best of field” journals:
    To the biologist, it’s probably crap
    To the chemist, it’s so-so
    To the physicists, it might be good

    My impression is that PLoS ONE is heavily skewed towards biomedical. So, if one were to recalculate IF in PLoS ONE based on field, we might get (making figures out now):
    PLoS ONE (Biology): 8, now to the biologists, it looks good, because lots of biologists are reading and citing PLoS ONE.
    PLoS ONE (Chemistry): 4, no change for the chemist
    PLoS ONE (Physics): 1, shows that hardly any physicist reads PLoS ONE, and it’s a crap journal to them.

    If you were to repeat the same analysis on N/S, I would bet that field-specific IF would still be higher than 14/9/7.

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  34. AA Says:

    DM, I don’t disagree with you that N/S paper tend to have a higher probability of being fraudulent, but I think that’s tangential to our discussion here, which is where does PLoS ONE fit into the journal rank ladder… dump journal or something more? You are moving this discussion to the reliability of the results published in PLoS ONE, which I will agree is probably more reliable than N/S, but the same can be said for any dump journal where the pressure to oversell and generate fake data is not there.

    And even if we have a corrected-IF for N/S that removes the retracted articles, I would bet that the IF would still be higher than the “best in field” journals out there…

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  35. Spiny Norman Says:

    @AA, you do understand that most c/n/s papers are not heavily cited, and that IF is largely driven by a very minor fraction of the papers published therein, yes?

    If IF were calculated as a median rather than as an arithmetic mean, the numbers would look very, very different. And c/n/s would look a hell of a lot less impressive.

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  36. drugmonkey Says:

    AA- I was mostly reacting to your statement that the IF of PLoS ONE “means nothing”. My point is that it is as meaningless as those for N/S…save for the fact that those are basically the highest and at ceiling. Which means the IF itself is meaningless, all you need to know is that there is nothing higher in *any* subfield.

    And you could and should generate a field-specific IF within each of Nature and Science if you think it necessary for PLoS ONE. Right?

    Otherwise we’re pretty much on the same page. My prior musings on PLoS ONE for my subfields of interest concluded that it was pretty high up in the rankings. So if the promise of the merit-only-review was sound, this should make it a primary outlet. For my subfields and *any* subfields where the IF of PLoS ONE is above the consensus “dump” level. …you know, for those purposes where IF is king anyway. there’s still the subjective rep to consider

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  37. Does anyone here actually publish regularly in Science or Nature, or PNAS for that matter? I don’t so this is a very academic discussion for me (pun intended).

    For me it is more relevant how PLoS ONE is regarded relative to my “everyday journals”, which, being a computational chemist are journals like Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Journal of Computational Chemistry, and the like. For the most part I’ve never had any serious problems getting papers accepted there.

    Am I more impressed seeing a J. Phys. Chem. paper on a CV compared to a PLoS ONE paper? No. So I now mostly publish in PLoS ONE. I think one of the manuscripts were working on has a shot at PNAS, so we’ll give it a shot. Why? Because I do notice a PNAS paper on a CV (don’t know if I should, but I do).

    If that doesn’t work, do I try JACS next? I’m on the fence. I have a few papers in JACS and have had a few rejected. The editorial decision always seemed completely arbitrary to me, so when I see a JACS paper on a CV the first thought that pops into my mind is “oh, someone got lucky.” On the other hand I did notice it.

    Anyway, >95% of chemistry papers are not in Nature, Science, PNAS or even JACS or Angewandte. Why not publish them in PLoS ONE?

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  38. Physician Scientist Says:

    If even 30% of your peers think PlosOne is a “dump journal”, then likely 30% of your grant reviewers thinks you dumped your paper. 30% of your tenure committee thinks you dumped your paper, and 30% of your peer group thinks you dumped your paper. Do this more than once in a short period of time (2 years?) and it’ll start looking to 30% of your peer group that you can’t or won’t compete at higher levels.

    I don’t think publishing extensively in PlosOne is a good strategy for this reason – too many people think its a dump journal (irrespective of whether it is or not, perception matters more than fact).

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  39. bill Says:

    perception matters more than fact

    And these are supposed to be scientists? Oy vey.

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  40. “compete at higher levels”? We’re talking JCTC, JPC and the like. Hardly heady heights!

    I know perception is important but at point you just have to say “this is BS”.

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  41. qaz Says:

    Remember that the “fact” of Impact Factor is only an estimate of the likelihood of impact. (And a notoriously poor one at that.)

    It would be interesting to go back over your own papers and see which ones people have read when talking to you (Them: “I saw your paper X.” Or conversely, Them: “I saw something interesting with X.” You: “Have you seen my paper on X?” Them: “No. Can you send it to me?”). I find there is a very large difference between journals, that is correlated with impact factor, but definitely different. [Note – the thing we never talk about with impact factor is audience. If you want to reach physicists, JNeuroscience has an effective impact near 0.]

    I find, for example, clear differences between the number of people who have read, cited, and been influenced by, my GlamourMagz papers than my DumpJournals. (And, as noted above, one field”s PrimaryJournal is another’s I-Don’tReadThat.) One interesting thing that I’ve found is that my Frontiers papers seem to have an influence akin to JNeurosci better. Whereas my PLoS ONE experience is that even the people in my field don’t find my papers and I had to let them know it was available. (Is that the definition of a DumpJournal – out there so it’s citeable, but not findable?) I find a small, but clear, difference between Neuron/NNsci and JNeurosci. And my experiences with N/S are off the charts.

    What is interesting is that I often get people citing/referring to my work published in Science for things that are referenced in that paper, but not what the paper is about. I always try to steer them to the original papers, but its clear that they have read my paper, but not gone beyond it. I bring this up because it suggests that the “impact” of this paper is partially about bringing new ideas to broader audiences. And not just because the result was “super-important”. (Whether it was or not is irrelevant. My point with this last paragraph is an attempt to control for quality. It is simply true that a lot more people will see a paper published in Science than in PLoS ONE.)

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  42. DrugMonkey Says:

    qaz- another hypothesis is that these people in your field are moron GlamourMag followers and really have no interest in your meatier papers.

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  43. qaz Says:

    And that makes them different from the rest of the world how?

    More importantly, a paper has to get read to have impact. If they don’t know about it, they can’t read it. We need to normalize expected impact factor not by field but by audience. If I’m writing a paper for physicists, I shouldn’t publish it in JNeuroscience. If I’m writing a paper for neuroscientists, not many of them read PhysRevLetters.

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  44. DrugMonkey Says:

    A lot of people see stuff in the NYT qaz….. Not fond of your principle here

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  45. DrugMonkey Says:

    What do we call them?

    Acta Scandinavica

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  46. qaz Says:

    Re: NYT.

    Actually, I would argue this could be a good system. Imagine a central journal where review is solely based on correctness, and then we could have “journals” that write little blurbs on each paper, essentially little advertisements to go see the “real” paper. It would solve a whole lot of problems, including the problem of working downward from GlamourMag to DumpJournal and the problem of being able to find work not entirely in your field.

    Of course, this is what people used to do with Science articles, where there would be a small article that gives the overview and the full article is in JNeurosci. I wouldn’t really trust the NYT to make a good list, but others might. We could even have individuals making lists of articles that are particularly interesting. In any case, we could always go back to the real article if we want.

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  47. AA Says:

    On the assumption that PLoS ONE may be a dump journal for a number of fields, I think another question that needs to be asked is whether or not you want to dump papers in PLoS ONE or your specialized sub-sub-sub-field dump journals.

    Personally, I need to be convinced that people in my field (and affiliated fields) are reading PLoS ONE. This again brings us back to the need for field-specific IF when dealing with general journals like PLoS ONE. To defend my earlier statements on N/S, we don’t really convince ourselves that we need field-specific IF for these journals because most people would agree that N/S reaches a large audience and that everyone in your field and allied fields do read N/S. Can the same be said for PLoS ONE? No. At least not until I see some evidence for that…

    I’ll give an example. Lots of physicist and physical chemist publish in Phys. Rev. E. It can be regarded as a dump journal for routine work. The IF is “not good” at 2-3ish. That’s way lower than the IF of 4-ish of PLoS ONE. But is PLoS ONE really a better place to publish? Probably not… cause the people you are interested in reaching out to probably don’t read PLoS ONE (I’m making this assumption/extrapolation since PLoS ONE seems skewed towards biomedical work), and so your readers are those in biomedical science who may not appreciate all the quantum entanglement stuff you wrote.

    Personally, I still think it makes more sense to dump papers into “established” dump journals in your field, unless your work happens to be so general and broad-based, that it would benefit from an enlarged and non-specialized audience. The examples of PLoS ONE papers in my field I’ve seen are PNAS-rejects, and they do not quite fit into the “established theme” of specialized dump journals that exists.

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  48. @janhjensen Says:

    qaz – I have started one such “0verlay” journal (http://www.compchemhighlights.org/) and Faculty of 1000 is a similar example. Such journals are cheap and easy to make and I would argue that it is up to us scientists to make it happen.

    AA – how do people find articles today? Not a rhetorical question, I would genuinely like to know. Your comment makes sense mainly if most people find articles by regularly perusing ToCs. That’s certainly not how I find articles anymore.

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  49. AA Says:

    JJ:- Like you, I am a computational/theoretical chemist.

    Google scholar alerts
    Google scholar allows you to save keyword searches as alerts. What it does is to constantly “google” for new papers based on your settings, and you can configure this specifically, e.g. search for papers that are directly relevant to your work, search for papers published by a competitor, etc… This serves the function of updating me on research that is directly related to my work. It’s almost “real-time” as they index “Just Accepted” manuscripts as well, which RSS feed don’t. 🙂 The downside is configuring the right keywords to be specific enough to pull out papers related to your work, but also needs to be broad enough so that you don’t miss papers…

    RSS feeds
    I basically skim through the title and abstract of my RSS feeds. Obviously, even reading title/abstracts take time, so I have to be selective. Minimally, I subscribe to Nature, Science, PNAS (general science high-impact work), JACS (chemistry high-impact work), JCTC and JCC (field-specific work, i.e. very relevant). Even though JPCB is somewhat relevant to my work, I don’t RSS feed it, cause I have no time to go through the gazillion articles they publish. For PLoS ONE it’s even worse, because the relevance is less than JPCB. This serves the function of updating me on research that is affiliated with my work.

    Manual Search at Web of Science
    Usually when starting on a new project, when I need to do a thorough literature search. Also, I do manual search of my work every 6mth or so, to see if I have missed out anything…

    In theory, articles directly related to my research published in places like JPCB and PLoS ONE that I don’t track by RSS would be picked up by the google alerts, but it’s not foolproof. The shortcoming of this model is that articles of affiliated interest published in JPCB/PLoS ONE would take time before it comes up on my radar (if ever). However, I reason that articles of affiliated interest would be published in the dump journals in my sub-field (JCC/JCTC), and that if the paper can’t even get published there, then it’s probably not worth reading.

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  50. dsks Says:

    “If even 30% of your peers think PlosOne is a “dump journal”, then likely 30% of your grant reviewers thinks you dumped your paper.”

    That and cost is why I won’t submit there any time soon. I like the model, and I believe in it, and if I didn’t have kids to feed I’d probably be prepared to get Don Qixote on my tenure committee and publish everything in PLoS ONE.

    in re differing definitions of “dump journal” I affectionately refer to JBC as a dump journal even though a third of my publications are in that rag. I dunno. I guess it’s not too hard to get into, but still has a bit of clout as a solid midtier journal despite representing a fairly broad set of fields.

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  51. Cashmoney Says:

    A third in a single journal? Seems high.

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  52. dsks Says:

    Not really, it’s just 3/8. I’m new to the game.

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  53. @janhjensen Says:

    AA – OK so 2/3 of the ways you keep up with the literature would still include PLoS ONE and the 3rd way seems a bit arbitrary in the choice of journals. Speaking for my own interests, it would make no sense to choose JPCB over JCTC or JCC, nor JPCA, JPCLett, JCP, PCCP, etc, etc. Following RSSs of ToCs is a completely untenable solution.

    I use Google Scholar and Web of Science both for keyword searches and citation searches, e.g. who has cited me? If you set up a Google Scholar profile you also get alerts for papers similar so you, and these have turned out to be very relevant. I also follow specific authors on Google Scholar and ResearchGate.

    Anyway, all these methods don’t discriminate against PLoS ONE, and neither do the majority of the methods you use.

    Dsks – it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing. Do you think it really would make a significant difference for tenure if your 3 JBC papers had been PLoS ONE papers instead?

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  54. dsks Says:

    “Do you think it really would make a significant difference for tenure if your 3 JBC papers had been PLoS ONE papers instead?”

    I don’t think it so much as know it. I’ve asked around while feeling out the publication expectations for my institution, as one does, and the ambivalence towards PLoS ONE at the present time is not encouraging. In addition, few (if any) of my colleagues outside the institution, some of whom will surely be writing letters for me, publish in this journal at the moment.

    It may well be the next best thing, but for now the new investigator, and even postdocs and grad students for that matter, should probably avoid this outlet until its more broadly accepted.

    However, it’s possible it never will be fully accepted as a good guage of productivity. The problem is that more accurate guage – individual citations – is not practical for vetting postdocs and new faculty becuase it takes at least 5 yrs to get a feel for the importance of a paper. Some form of IF will inevitably be appealed to (caveats notwithstanding) to try and predict the likely impact of a paper based on where it was accepted for publication.

    If this editorial DM lined to in another post is correct, PLoS ONE may become even less informative in that respect than it already is.

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  55. I have voted on a number of tenure decisions and I think holding JBC in higher esteem than PLoS ONE is absurd. Yes, I know, so is any decision based upon where you publish, but JBC!!?? Anyway, I am not on *your* tenure committee and it doesn’t sound like you’re coming up for tenure at the Department of Chemistry of Stanford (http://wavefunction.fieldofscience.com/2012/04/citation-against-citations.html) so you have to deal with the cards you’re dealt.

    “It may well be the next best thing, but for now the new investigator, and even postdocs and grad students for that matter, should probably avoid this outlet until its more broadly accepted.”

    One data point: http://proteinsandwavefunctions.blogspot.dk/2013/01/does-publishing-in-plos-one-hurt-your.html

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  56. AA Says:

    JJ: JBC to biologists is like JACS to chemists. Almost every biologist or people working in closely related fields would attest to JBC being the “gold” standard. Of course places like Mol. Cell. counts more, but JBC is not a dump journal. I know its IF of 5-ish is not impressive (similar to PLoS ONE), but I believe majority would rank JBC >> PLoS ONE. I know the numbers don’t add up, but that’s the feedback I’ve gotten from the ground. Perhaps the biologists on this forum can back me up on this.

    About the previous post on which RSS feed I follow, the list was not completely exhaustive. I do subscribe to JPCL, JCP and some other journals. The common features amongst journals like JPCL/JCC/JCTC/JCP is that they are field specific and they don’t publish a gazillon articles. A long time ago, I did subscribe to JPCB, but they publish so often, that I can’t keep up with the RSS feeds. PLoS ONE publishes more, and it’s even less field-specific, which is why I would argue it is not on everyone’s RSS feed.

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  57. DrugMonkey Says:

    JJ- the comment about the fee keeping the real dross out of PLoS ONE raises an interesting point, no?

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  58. DrugMonkey Says:

    B/c right now I think I need a reason specific to a particular manuscript to risk the $$$. I’d have to think the data/paper were slightly better than my usual and that there was some anticipated problem with my usual journals.

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  59. AnUndergrad Says:

    Actually, PLoS ONE no longer grants no-questions-asked fee waivers. (obviously in contrast to PeerJ which still maintains it will trust authors)

    From PLoS’ Author Billing Team in an email (July 2013): “We as a nonprofit organization do request that authors pay as much as they are so able to help in regards of keeping our organization running. We understand that if you are indeed struggling to the point where absolutely no support can be provided to the detriment of the author, we are able to provide full waivers. The previous correspondence was just to confirm that there was diligence practiced when applying for a fee waiver, as you can imagine many authors abuse the policy.”

    So, apparently enough people have “abuse[d] the policy” to warrant the change in policy

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