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What Do Authors Want—Findings of an International Survey of Authors

April 2006
About this article

This article summarizes the main findings reported in a study published in Science Editor. Study details are provided at the end of the article. The information provided in this article will help authors to improve the quality of their manuscripts.

  • Authors prefer to publish in journals in which they can target a very specific group of key readers, those working on similar problems.
  • After target audience, they give equal importance to other aspects of the journal, such as impact factor, editorial board, e-version availability, and size of readership. Journal price is considered the least important factor.
    Authors who have some experience of publishing in an open access medium lay greater emphasis on
    • Speed of refereeing
    • Pricing of the journal
    • Ease of acceptance
    Younger authors (<35 years) are much less affected by
    • Impact factor
    • Coverage by abstracting and indexing
    • Availability of a hard copy
  • Majority (~80%) of the authors want their work to be read by fellow researchers in their field, followed by other researchers.
    Only 18% of the authors think it important for the general public to read their articles.
  • Around 50% authors take no interest in copyright issues.
    Asian and East European authors have greater interest in copyright issues.
    Authors in earth and planetary science (19.8%), material science (19.5%), and computer science (18.3%) are likely to take more interest in copyright than those in economics (3.9%), agriculture (6.6%), and immunology and microbiology (7.6%).
    Authors reflect a mix of indifference, ignorance, and resentment to copyright issues. Several authors expressed that the rights should be shared equally between the publisher and the author.
  • Access to journal literature is satisfactory.
    61% of the authors said that this was currently good or excellent, meaning that they have access to all or at least most of the materials they need. Only 10% of the authors said that matters were poor or very poor.
    Authors from Central America and East Europe reported much lower levels of satisfaction.
  • Self-publishing (make it available on the web for free) is not very popular (31%)
    53% said they might consider it in the future and 12% dismissed this possibility.

    Self publishing is defined as the publishing of books or other media by the author himself.
  • Overall, younger authors are more likely to self-publish.
  • The practice of depositing material in institutional repositories is low (21%).
    55% might do this in the future; 15% had no such plans. Depositing material in a repository is more prevalent among authors from the fields of computer science, mathematics, and engineering.
  • Only 11% had published in open access journals. ~80% of the authors claim to know little or nothing about open access.
    Researchers in government and commercial organizations had the least knowledge of open access compared to those from universities and medical schools.

    Authors with open access experience
    Agree that
    quality of papers will improve
    libraries will get more money to spend
    it will be easier to get hold of papers
    Disagree that
    authors will publish more
    Authors will publish more
    Archiving will suffer
    Rejection rates will go down
    Younger authors' view on open access
    Agree that
    authors will publish more
    quality of papers will improve
    publishers will improve their services to authors
    it will be easier to get hold of papers
    open access journals are expensive
    Disagree that
    papers will become less concise
    fewer papers will be rejected
    authors will have less choice over where they publish

    In an open access journal, readers are able to read, download, copy, and distribute papers and other materials free of cost from the web.

    The figures are approximations obtained from the results of the survey.

    Click the icons to know more about the survey population.
    Figure 3. Respondents' profession
    Figure 4. Respondents' location
    Figure 5. Respondents' subject