How your publication record is evaluated
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Revision as of 08:05, 19 December 2008 by Stenstro
The information on this page initially started as part of a Professional Development Series in the Social Psychology Department at the University of Southern California.
How is a publication record evaluated or judged?
- There are many factors to take into account when looking at an individual’s publication record, such as:
- a) the authorship order,
- b) the number of publications,
- c) the prestige of the journals in which the studies are published,
- d) the prestige of the other authors on the paper, and
- e) the quality of the research (if this can be discerned from the title/topic of the article)
- f) the type of research (empirical, review, theory, applied, etc)
- While there are undoubtedly many different ways to judge the entirety of an individual’s publication record, there is a general heuristic that most people look for:
- 1) First author in journal considered the best in your field (e.g., JPSP for Social/Personality researchers).
- 2) First authorships (number of first authorships and quality/prestige of those journals)
- 3) Numerosity (total number of publications and quality/prestige of those journals)
Why do most people follow these heuristics?
- These heuristics roughly corresponds to the goals of a potential employer when looking at your publication record which is to identify your ability to conduct research on important/interesting research ideas.
- The reason why the first general heuristic is a “first author publication in journal considered the best in your field” is because:
- a) the first authorship indicates you were primarily responsible for the research,
- b) and the research was of high quality considering that it was published in what is considered the top choice outlet for empirical research in your field,
- c) and you have achieved what is considered by most researchers to be the highest benchmark in your field when it comes to publishing empirical research.
- Even if the research is not published in the top journal, first authorship still indicates you were primarily responsible for the research. Thus, the reason for the second general heuristic of “first authorships” is:
- a) you have the ability to conduct empirical research that is of suitable quality to be published in a peer-reviewed journal,
- b) the number of first authorships indicates the level of your ability to conduct different empirical research projects, and
- c) the quality/prestige of those journals indicates the general level of quality of the research that you conducted.
- After a potential employer can identify your ability to conduct empirical research with the first two heuristics, then the third general heuristic of numerosity is helpful/important because it provides information about the scope or breadth of your research experience, and therefore the scope or breadth of your ability to conduct research.
- First authorship indicates you were primarily responsible for idea generation and/or running subjects and/or writing the manuscript. Thus, the research is viewed as directly reflecting the abilities of the first author.
- If not first author, the order of your authorship is generally less important because second authorship provides generally the same weight as a third, fourth, or etc authorship. Being second, third, fourth, or etc, provides relatively little information about your ability to conduct research because its difficult to know the contributions of non-first-authorships and the research is usually not viewed as directly reflecting the ability of the other authors who are seen as having secondary roles on the project.
- One caveat is that if the first author is a graduate student, the research may be viewed as reflecting the abilities of the faculty member irrespective of where in the authorship order that faculty member has his/her name.
- At the same time, another possible heuristic that may be invoked when evaluating your publication record is whether on your non-first-authorship articles you have a tendency to be closer to the front when it comes to authorship order, or a tendency to be farther to the back. In this case, having a tendency to be closer to the front may indicate something about your contributions and ability to conduct research.
What carries more weight, a review such as a meta-analysis, or a empirical study on a new topic?
- Since you want to establish your ability to conduct research, an empirical study is relatively more important initially on your CV.
- Once you have established your ability to conduct research through publication of empirical papers, then reviews, such as literature reviews, meta-analysis, or other types of integrative theory papers, can be very advantageous because it shows the breadth of your research-related abilities.
- Plus, first authorship on a review article in Psychological Bulletin or Psychological Review, may carry more weight than another first authorship in JPSP.
What are the pros/cons of publishing a “short report”?
- While short reports are usually smaller articles, the more important criteria is the journal in which the article is published and the quality of the article, not its length, especially since the journals which publish short reports do not distinguish between short reports and other types of research studies in their journals when including that publication on your CV.
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