June 2010 // Volume 48 // Number 3 // Editorial // 3ED1
Article(s) & Research
"Article(s) & Research" acknowledges (but doesn't accept) some reasons for "double dipping" and discusses ethical ways of getting more than one article from the same research. And "June JOE" highlights too few of the articles in a rich issue.
Article(s) & Research
I wanted to call this piece "Article Bang & Research Buck," but I decided that title was too irreverent for a pretty serious subject. The subject is how to get the maximum out of your research—maximum number of articles, maximum credit and recognition, maximum circulation of your information—and get it legitimately and ethically.
The Wrong Way
In my April Editor's Page, "Copyright Rules," I discussed "double dipping" or duplicate publication, the unfortunate practice of submitting substantially the same article to two or more different refereed journals. I explained how it was unethical and, in the case of JOE and many other journals, a violation of copyright. I also promised that, in the June issue, I would "acknowledge (but not accept) some extenuating circumstances, and discuss some legitimate ways of getting more than one article from the same research." So here goes.
Why do people "double dip"? Some are moved by the Extension-based impulse to share their information as widely as possible, figuring that the more journals that publish the information, the more people will benefit from it. They are simply unaware of the conventions of scholarly publishing and the ethical implications of what they are doing. Others are aware of those conventions and implications, but they are so driven by the need to "publish or perish" that they violate the conventions. The one motivation is laudable, and the other is at least understandable. But both are unacceptable. As I said in April, "Do not—do not—submit the same article to two different refereed journals. It's wrong."
Some Right Ways
So how do you get the maximum out of your research while staying on the ethical high road? The problem is not necessarily using the same data—it's submitting the same article. Submit a different article that uses the same data.
Say that, through hard work and/or diligent research, you have accumulated a dataset or developed a material, and you want to publish. The article you submit to a discipline- or program-specific journal would be more technical and quite specific to that discipline or program, cite previous scholarly works specific to that discipline or journal, and draw inferences or conclusions specific to that discipline or program and its practitioners. In other words, you would write an article for the audience of the journal to which you are submitting.
But the same data or material can have different implications for different audiences and mean different things in different contexts. The article you would submit to a journal like JOE, for instance, which is not discipline- or program-specific, would cite different or additional scholarly work, be broader in nature, and draw inferences and conclusions for a broader audience.
For example, in an article submitted to JOE, you would certainly report your data on water quality, but you would not focus on it. Your focus would perhaps be on how Extension professionals could use that data in their work with clients or how that data addresses a controversy or how that data contradicts conventional wisdom on a subject. In an article submitted to JOE, you would certainly described the 4-H material you developed, but your focus would be on how the material could be useful in other Extension programs or how the development process could be emulated to develop other materials or how fellow Extension professionals could learn from your successes and failures.
Another way of getting more articles from the same work, again using JOE as an example, would be submitting a Feature or Research in Brief and a companion Commentary addressing the challenges presented by your work. Still another would be different articles focusing on different subsets of your full dataset. Yet another would be an Ideas at Work article at one stage of your work and a Research in Brief or Feature after the final stage.
There are lots of possibilities—but they all involve writing different articles and, inevitably, doing more work. Also, I hope it's needless to say, you must cite the other articles you've submitted using the same data or acknowledge that the article is based on a presentation you delivered.
This is shaping up to be the longest Editor's Page I've ever written, but, again, it's a pretty serious subject.
The June issue is terrific. There's a Commentary that asks if Extension should "help communities fulfill their goals and objectives by acting as facilitators, co-conveners, and true partners, rather than simply as educators."
The title of the first Feature, "Education in the Face of Controversy: When Water and Politics Mix," speaks for itself. And the second Feature, "Assessing Awareness of Water Quality: Comparing Convenience and Random Samples," raises an important research-methodology issue and explains it in a way even I can understand.
Swinging past 12 other interesting articles, the first Ideas at Work, "A Checklist for Interdisciplinary Teams When Planning Issues-Based Programs," helps fill the gap between interest in issue-based programs and techniques for developing them.
Swooping over the six other great examples of Ideas at Work, the Tools of the Trade articles really deliver, as usual. Just singling out four of 10 great ones, there's "Developing Economic Assessments in Response to Natural Disasters: A Strategic Plan for Executing Extension's Mission," "Evaluating for Impact: Professional Development Educational Content Delivery Through Learning Communities," "Getting Acquainted with Free Software," and "Best Management Practices for Beginning Farmer Support." And that's not to mention the article that discusses the important Extension issue of rural coverage bias in online surveys.
What a range. And I haven't even mentioned two thirds of the articles in the issue!