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In
academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or thesis' form. The part of academic written output that is not formally ...
, a scientific journal is a
periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media The presentation of works in sequential segments * Serial (literature), serialised f ...
intended to further the progress of
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...

science
, usually by reporting new
research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. A research project may be an expa ...

research
.


Content

Articles in scientific journals are mostly written by active scientists such as students, researchers and professors instead of professional journalists. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past (see
list of scientific journals The following is a partial list of scientific journals. There are thousands of scientific journal In , a scientific journal is a intended to further the progress of , usually by reporting new . Content Articles in scientific journals are most ...
). Most journals are highly specialized, although some of the oldest journals such as ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'' publish articles and
scientific paper : ''For a broader class of literature, see Academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sa ...
s across a wide range of scientific fields. Scientific journals contain articles that have been
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work (). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant . Peer review methods ar ...
ed, in an attempt to ensure that articles meet the journal's standards of quality, and scientific validity. Although scientific journals are superficially similar to
professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowled ...
magazine A magazine is a periodical publication Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most familiar example i ...

magazine
s, they are actually quite different. Issues of a scientific journal are rarely read casually, as one would read a magazine. The publication of the results of research is an essential part of the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
. If they are describing experiments or calculations, they must supply enough details that an independent researcher could repeat the experiment or calculation to verify the results. Each such journal article becomes part of the permanent scientific record.


Scope

Articles in scientific journals can be used in research and higher education. Scientific articles allow researchers to keep up to date with the developments of their field and direct their own research. An essential part of a scientific article is citation of earlier work. The impact of articles and journals is often assessed by counting citations (
citation impact Citation impact is a measure of how many times an academic journal article or book or author is cited by other articles, books or authors. Citation counts are interpreted as measures of the impact or influence of academic work and have given rise t ...
). Some classes are partially devoted to the explication of classic articles, and
seminar A seminar is a form of academic instruction, either at an academic institution Academic institution is an educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childc ...

seminar
classes can consist of the presentation by each student of a classic or current paper. Schoolbooks and textbooks have been written usually only on established topics, while the latest research and more obscure topics are only accessible through scientific articles. In a scientific research group or
academic department {{unreferenced, date=June 2009, bot=yes An academic department is a division of a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) educ ...
it is usual for the content of current scientific journals to be discussed in
journal club A journal club is a group of individuals who meet regularly to critically evaluate recent articles in the academic literature, such as the scientific literature, medical literature, or philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of ge ...
s. Public funding bodies often require the results to be published in scientific journals. Academic credentials for promotion into academic ranks are established in large part by the number and impact of scientific articles published. Many doctoral programs allow for
thesis by publicationA thesis as a collection of articlesClaude_Bernard.html" ;"title="thesis presented by Claude Bernard">thesis presented by Claude Bernard to obtain his Doctor of Medicine degree (1843). A doctora ... dissertation that, as opposed to a coherent monog ...
, where the candidate is required to publish a certain number of scientific articles.


Wording

Articles tend to be highly technical, representing the latest theoretical research and experimental results in the field of science covered by the journal. They are often incomprehensible to anyone except for researchers in the field and advanced students. In some subjects this is inevitable given the nature of the content. Usually, rigorous rules of
scientific writing Scientific writing is writing for science. English-language scientific writing originated in the 14th century, with the language later becoming the dominant medium for the field. Style conventions for scientific writing vary, with different focus ...
are enforced by the editors; however, these rules may vary from journal to journal, especially between journals from different publishers. Articles are usually either original articles reporting completely new results or reviews of current literature. There are also scientific publications that bridge the gap between articles and books by publishing thematic volumes of chapters from different authors. Many journals have a regional focus, specializing in publishing papers from a particular geographic region, like ''
African Invertebrates ''African Invertebrates'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a prof ...
''.


History

The history of scientific journals dates from 1665, when the French ''
Journal des sçavans A journal, from the Old French Old French (, , ; French language, Modern French: ) was the language spoken in Northern France from the 8th century to the 14th century. Rather than a unified Dialect#Dialect or language, language, Old French was r ...
'' and the English ''
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society ''Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society'' is a scientific journal published by the Royal Society. In its earliest days, it was a private venture of the Royal Society's secretary. It was established in 1665, making it the first journa ...
'' first began systematically publishing research results. Over a thousand, mostly
ephemeral Ephemerality (from the Greek language, Greek word , meaning 'lasting only one day') is the concept of things being transitory, existing only briefly. Typically the term ephemeral is used to describe objects found in nature, although it can descr ...
, were founded in the 18th century, and the number has increased rapidly after that. Prior to mid-20th century,
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work (). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant . Peer review methods ar ...
was not always necessary, but gradually it became essentially compulsory.


Publishing process

The authors of scientific articles are active researchers instead of journalists; typically, a graduate student or a researcher writes a paper with a professor. As such, the authors are unpaid and receive no compensation from the journal. However, their funding bodies may require them to publish in scientific journals. The paper is submitted to the journal office, where the editor considers the paper for appropriateness, potential scientific impact and novelty. If the journal's editor considers the paper appropriate, the paper is submitted to
scholarly peer review Scholarly peer review (also known as refereeing) is the process of having a draft version of a researcher's methods and findings reviewed (usually anonymously) by expert An expert is somebody who has a broad and deep competence in terms of ...
. Depending on the field, journal and paper, the paper is sent to 1–3 reviewers for evaluation before they can be granted permission to publish. Reviewers are expected to check the paper for soundness of its scientific argument, including whether the author(s) are sufficiently acquainted with recent relevant research that bears on their study, whether the data was collected or considered appropriately and reproducibly, and whether the data discussed supports the conclusion offered and the implications suggested. Novelty is also key: existing work must be appropriately considered and referenced, and new results improving on the state of the art presented. Reviewers are usually unpaid and not a part of the journal staff—instead, they should be "peers", i.e. researchers in the same field as the paper in question.


Standards and impact

The standards that a journal uses to determine publication can vary widely. Some journals, such as ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'', ''
Science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...
'', ''
PNAS ''Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America'' (often abbreviated ''PNAS'' or ''PNAS USA'') is a peer-review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the ...
'', and ''
Physical Review Letters ''Physical Review Letters'' (''PRL''), established in 1958, is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulati ...
'', have a reputation of publishing articles that mark a fundamental breakthrough in their respective fields. In many fields, a formal or informal hierarchy of scientific journals exists; the most prestigious journal in a field tends to be the most selective in terms of the articles it will select for publication, and usually will also have the highest
impact factor #REDIRECT Impact factor #REDIRECT Impact factor#REDIRECT Impact factor The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly average number of citat ...
. In some countries, journal rankings can be utilized for funding decisions and even evaluation of individual researchers, although they are poorly suited for that purpose.


Reproducibility and replicability

For scientific journals,
reproducibility Reproducibility, also known as replicability and repeatability, is a major principle underpinning the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the develop ...
and
replicabilityReproducibility is a major principle of the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves ...
of the scientific results are core concepts that allow other scientists to check and reproduce the results under the same conditions described in the paper or at least similar conditions and produce similar results with similar
measurements Measurement is the quantification (science), quantification of variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events. The scope and application of measurement are dependent ...
of the same measurand or carried out under changed conditions of measurement.


Types of articles

There are several types of journal articles; the exact terminology and definitions vary by field and specific journal, but often include: *Letters (also called ''communications'', and not to be confused with ''letters to the editor'') are short descriptions of important current research findings that are usually fast-tracked for immediate publication because they are considered urgent. *Research notes are short descriptions of current research findings that are considered less urgent or important than ''Letters''. *Articles are usually between five and twenty pages and are complete descriptions of current original research findings, but there are considerable variations between scientific fields and journals—80-page articles are not rare in
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
or
theoretical computer science Theoretical computer science (TCS) is a subset of general computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for the ...

theoretical computer science
. *Supplemental articles contain a large volume of tabular
data Data (; ) are individual facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used ...

data
that is the result of current research and may be dozens or hundreds of pages with mostly numerical data. Some journals now only publish this data electronically on the Internet. Supplemental information also contains other voluminous material not appropriate for the main body of the article, like descriptions of routine procedures, derivations of equations, source code, non-essential data, spectra or other such miscellaneous information. *
Review article A review article is an article Article often refers to: * Article (grammar) An article is any member of a class of dedicated words that are used with noun phrases to mark the identifiability of the referents of the noun phrases. The categor ...
s do not cover original research but rather accumulate the results of many different ''articles'' on a particular topic into a coherent narrative about the state of the art in that field. Review articles provide information about the topic and also provide journal references to the original research. Reviews may be entirely narrative, or may provide quantitative summary estimates resulting from the application of meta-analytical methods. *
Data paper Data publishing (also data publication) is the act of releasing research data in academic publishing, published form for use by others. It is a practice consisting in preparing certain data or data set(s) for public use thus to make them available t ...
s are articles dedicated to describe datasets. This type of article is becoming popular and journals exclusively dedicated to them have been established, e.g. ''
Scientific Data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature of its characteristics. The concept of ''inform ...
'' and '' Earth System Science Data''. * Video papers are a recent addition to practice of scientific publications. They most often combine an online video demonstration of a new technique or protocol combined with a rigorous textual description. The formats of journal articles vary, but many follow the general
IMRAD In scientific writing, IMRAD or IMRaD () (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) is a common organizational structure (a document format). IMRaD is the most prominent norm for the structure of a scientific journal article of the original r ...
scheme recommended by the
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors The ICMJE recommendations (full title, "Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals") are a set of guidelines produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors for stand ...
. Such articles begin with an '' abstract'', which is a one-to-four-paragraph summary of the paper. The ''introduction'' describes the background for the research including a discussion of similar research. The ''materials and methods'' or ''experimental'' section provides specific details of how the research was conducted. The ''results and discussion'' section describes the outcome and implications of the research, and the ''conclusion'' section places the research in context and describes avenues for further exploration. In addition to the above, some scientific journals such as ''Science'' will include a news section where scientific developments (often involving political issues) are described. These articles are often written by science journalists and not by scientists. In addition, some journals will include an editorial section and a section for letters to the editor. While these are articles published within a journal, in general they are not regarded as scientific journal articles because they have not been peer-reviewed.


Electronic publishing

Electronic publishing is a new area of information
dissemination To disseminate (from lat. ''disseminare'' "scattering seeds"), in the field of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European langu ...
. One definition of electronic publishing is in the context of the scientific journal. It is the presentation of scholarly scientific results in only an electronic (non-paper) form. This is from its first write-up, or creation, to its publication or dissemination. The electronic scientific journal is specifically designed to be presented on the internet. It is defined as not being previously printed material adapted, or retooled, and then delivered electronically. Electronic publishing will likely continue to exist alongside paper publishing for the foreseeable future, since whilst output to a screen is important for browsing and searching, it is not well suited for extensive reading. Formats suitable both for reading on paper, and for manipulation by the reader's computer will need to be integrated. Many journals are electronically available in formats readable on screen via
web browsers A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is application software Application software (app for short) is computing software designed to carry out a specific task other than one relating to the operation of the computer itself, typical ...
, as well as in portable document format
PDF Portable Document Format (PDF), standardized as ISO 32000, is a file format ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for pe ...
, suitable for printing and storing on a local desktop or laptop computer. New tools such as
JATS The Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) is an XML format used to Metadata, describe scientific literature published online. It is a technical standard developed by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and approved by the American N ...
and Utopia Documents provide a 'bridge' to the 'web-versions' in that they connect the content in PDF versions directly to the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system An information system (IS) is a formal, sociotechnical Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational ...
via hyperlinks that are created 'on-the-fly'. The PDF version of an article is usually seen as the
version of record The version of record of an article is the fully copyedited, typeset and formatted copy of a manuscript as published. The terminology is used in a wide variety of written media (e.g. Academic book, books, Academic journal, journals, monographs). D ...
, but the matter is subject to some debate. Electronic counterparts of established print journals already promote and deliver rapid dissemination of peer-reviewed and edited, "published" articles. Other journals, whether spin-offs of established print journals, or created as electronic only, have come into existence promoting the rapid dissemination capability, and availability, on the Internet. In tandem with this is the speeding up of peer review, copyediting, page makeup, and other steps in the process to support rapid dissemination. Other improvements, benefits and unique values of electronically publishing the scientific journal are easy availability of supplementary materials (data, graphics and video), lower cost, and availability to more people, especially scientists from non-developed countries. Hence, research results from more developed nations are becoming more accessible to scientists from non-developed countries. Moreover, electronic publishing of scientific journals has been accomplished without compromising the standards of the refereed,
peer review Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field Field may r ...
process. One form is the online equivalent of the conventional paper journal. By 2006, almost all scientific journals have, while retaining their peer-review process, established electronic versions; a number have moved entirely to electronic publication. In a similar manner, most academic libraries buy the electronic version and purchase a paper copy only for the most important or most-used titles. There is usually a delay of several months after an article is written before it is published in a journal, making paper journals not an ideal format for announcing the latest research. Many journals now publish the final papers in their electronic version as soon as they are ready, without waiting for the assembly of a complete issue, as is necessary with paper. In many fields in which even greater speed is wanted, such as
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
, the role of the journal at disseminating the latest research has largely been replaced by
preprint In academic publishing, a preprint is a version of a scholarly or scientific paper that precedes formal peer review and publication in a peer review, peer-reviewed scholarly or scientific journal. The preprint may be available, often as a non-typ ...
databases such as arXiv.org. Almost all such articles are eventually published in traditional journals, which still provide an important role in
quality control Quality control (QC) is a process by which entities review the quality of all factors involved in production. ISO 9000 The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems A quality management system (QMS) is a collection of business process ...

quality control
, archiving papers, and establishing scientific credit.


Cost

Many scientists and librarians have long protested the cost of journals, especially as they see these payments going to large for-profit publishing houses. To allow their researchers online access to journals, many universities purchase ''site licenses'', permitting access from anywhere in the university, and, with appropriate authorization, by university-affiliated users at home or elsewhere. These may be quite expensive, sometimes much more than the cost for a print subscription, although this may reflect the number of people who will be using the license—while a print subscription is the cost for one person to receive the journal; a site-license can allow thousands of people to gain access. Publications by
scholarly societies A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipline (academia), academic discipline, profession, or a group of related disciplines such as the ...
, also known as not-for-profit-publishers, usually cost less than commercial publishers, but the prices of their scientific journals are still usually several thousand dollars a year. In general, this money is used to fund the activities of the scientific societies that run such journals, or is invested in providing further scholarly resources for scientists; thus, the money remains in and benefits the scientific sphere. Despite the transition to electronic publishing, the
serials crisis The term serials crisis has become a common shorthand to describe the chronic subscription The subscription business model is a business model in which a customer must pay a recurring price at regular intervals for access to a product. The mod ...
persists. Concerns about cost and open access have led to the creation of free-access journals such as the Public Library of Science (PLoS) family and partly open or reduced-cost journals such as the ''
Journal of High Energy Physics The ''Journal of High Energy Physics'' is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified membe ...
''. However, professional editors still have to be paid, and PLoS still relies heavily on donations from foundations to cover the majority of its operating costs; smaller journals do not often have access to such resources. Based on statistical arguments, it has been shown that electronic
publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as book A ...
online, and to some extent
open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis o ...

open access
, both provide wider dissemination and increase the average number of citations an article receives.


Copyright

Traditionally, the author of an article was required to transfer the
copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. ...

copyright
to the journal publisher. Publishers claimed this was necessary in order to protect authors' rights, and to coordinate permissions for reprints or other use. However, many authors, especially those active in the
open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis o ...
movement, found this unsatisfactory, and have used their influence to effect a gradual move towards a license to publish instead. Under such a system, the publisher has permission to edit, print, and distribute the article commercially, but the authors retain the other rights themselves. Even if they retain the copyright to an article, most journals allow certain rights to their authors. These rights usually include the ability to reuse parts of the paper in the author's future work, and allow the author to distribute a limited number of copies. In the print format, such copies are called reprints; in the electronic format, they are called
postprints File:ENEURO.0483-18.2019 page4 Accepted Manuscript.jpg, Example of a page from an ''eNeuro'' accepted manuscript, 2019 A postprint is a digital draft of a academic journal, research journal article ''after'' it has been peer reviewed and accepted f ...
. Some publishers, for example the
American Physical Society The American Physical Society (APS) is a not-for-profit membership organization of professionals in physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , ...
, also grant the author the right to post and update the article on the author's or employer's website and on free e-print servers, to grant permission to others to use or reuse figures, and even to reprint the article as long as no fee is charged. The rise of open access journals, in which the author retains the copyright but must pay a publication charge, such as the Public Library of Science family of journals, is another recent response to copyright concerns.Is it time to end copyright for scientific journals?
Gizmodo, 2011


See also


References

* A.J. Meadows, ed. The Scientific Journal. London : Aslib, c1979. * R.E. Abel et al. "Scholarly Publishing: Books Journals, Publishers, and Libraries in the Twentieth Century". N.Y.: Wiley, 2002. * D.W. King et al. "Scientific Journals in the United States: their Production, Use, and Economics". Stroudsberg, PA: Hutchinson-Ross, 1981 * A. Gielas & A. Fyfe, eds.
Editorship and the Editing of Scientific Journals, 1750–1950
, Special Issue: Centaurus. International Journal for the History of Science and its Cultural Aspects, 2020.


External links


The cost of publishing in a scientific journal, some examples and recommended reading
from OpenWetWare life scientists' wiki {{Authority control Technical communication 17th-century introductions