H A V E Y O U R S A Y
The Art of Publishing
*By Orlando Frazão
Publishing an article is, in fact, an easy task. All you have to do is write articles. However, in order to write the articles, we need work. Work is carried out in laboratories. In the laboratories, we get results. And with the results, we can submit articles to journals.
The truth is that there aren’t many articles being published at INESC Porto. And this solution seems easy. We have to analyse the situation. In fact, there is a very important sentence there: “Work is carried out in laboratories”. This is where the problem lies, that is, people have to be 100% on top of their game at INESC Porto.
Professors can’t do it because they have to teach. Researchers have to write their projects so that INESC Porto is able to survive financially. Who’s left, then? Doctoral students and grant holders. They should be responsible for the increase in scientific production. As such, professors or supervisors must encourage them to publish. For that, they have to work hard at the laboratories and, if necessary, “discuss science” with the Doctorates. And I believe that that doesn’t happen. How about you?
I think it’s time to change. I started by giving a set of goals to the students I supervise that they have to meet. For me, before handing in their theses, the Master’s students must submit at least one article to a journal in order to have a good mark. On the other hand, Doctoral students should have a minimum number of articles published in order to defend their work (five is acceptable). However, I think that this number should be decided by the Doctorates. It would be interesting and prestigious for INESC Porto to be referenced as a place where there is a significant amount of good published articles in order to obtain a degree.
INESC Porto has established a 1000 Euro prize to encourage publications. However, there are other motivations, such as “CONGRATULATIONS” by an expert in the area who lives on the other side of the world and has read our paper. After that, there are invitations to start partnerships. Or even an invitation of a widely accredited journal for us to revise or submit revision articles. This is what’s worth it and we can put it in our CV.
Journal publications play, in fact, an important role in INESC Porto’s evaluation and for those who publish them.
See you later.
* Collaborator from the Optoelectronics and Electronic Systems Unit (UOSE)
THE READER’S ADVISER COMMENTS
Dear Orlando, first of all, let me congratulate you! – even though I’m on this side of the Atlantic and not an expert in the area…
The effort of publishing is, in fact, cultivating professionalism in those who embrace this life and, for that, quality and quantity require methodology and systematisation, other than raw material. You suggest the creation of check lists, such as in aviation – and that is also the path.
We are in a state of development where we must look at the problem in a more demanding way – because we cannot say anymore that INESC Porto doesn’t publish much as an engineering and information and communication technologies institution. In the INESC Porto LA universe, the current equivalent ratio of articles (full time and with actual involvement) in international journals per doctorate is higher than 1 per year, which is an acceptable mean value in these areas of engineering.
However, there are asymmetries. In order to constitute this mean value, we have doctorates who publish way above average, while others don’t. And if publishing an article in the area of Energy per year is good internationally, that will not be enough in Physics. Therefore, it is necessary to season the fury of the numbers with the virtues of our local actuation profile.
That is why the creation of professional habits can help us turn the eventual creativity into a trivial and planned task. And that habit should be instilled in our trainees, nothing is more correct.
In fact, articles quantitatively measure the external acknowledgement of our scientific performance. If we are not provided with positive indicators, our own statute of Associated Laboratory will be at risk.
That is why publishing is a double duty: individual, because it corresponds to the professional obligation; and solidary because it contributes to the preservation of the excellent environment we have.