Research publishing app boost for academics

Associate Prof James Maclaurin with his ''HelpMePublish'' iPhone app. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Associate Prof James Maclaurin with his ''HelpMePublish'' iPhone app. Photo by Craig Baxter.

Failure to cope with growing pressures to publish their research can be disastrous for some promising young academics, Associate Prof James Maclaurin says.

And Prof Maclaurin, of the University of Otago philosophy department, has helped dream up a new solution to the ''publish or perish'' challenge-a new iPhone app.

This already helps researchers in more than 20 countries to connect more effectively with academic journals that could publish their research.

The HelpMePublish project is the brain-child of Prof Maclaurin, in partnership with Otago Innovation Limited, Otago University's commercialisation arm.

Young postdoctoral researchers now faced huge pressures to obtain a first academic job, and building a publication track record was critical, he said.

''The risk for most of them is just not getting that first job.''

It was not uncommon for junior academics to find they were facing competition from 100 other ''aspiring academics'' for a post.

Failure to get their research published was ''disastrous in a career sense,'' he said.

Some young researchers submitted unsuccessfully to a few journals ''and then give up''.

Academics seeking publication faced a wide range of journals, whose response to submissions varied widely.

Some top journals accepted only 0.25% of papers submitted, whereas some accepted 60%.

And, at one extreme, some publications were ''predatory'', charging applicants to publish their work, without refereeing articles.

''Getting published is increasingly an uphill battle particularly for young researchers who must choose from hundreds of journals in their subject area and often find it difficult to get good information about how those journals work.''

The HelpMePublish app was like ''a marketplace for information between journals and researcher'', and key information about acceptance rates and anonymous assessment of articles was included.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz