UOC scientific journals committed to internationalization

Subject:  Multidisciplinary
Close-up of a globe
Author: Sandra Pérez

The first Scientific Publishing Seminar focuses on good practices of peer review in editorial teams

The UOC's first Scientific Publishing Seminar was held on 10 March, an initiative created at the meeting of the editors of its scientific journals in November, to be a work and exchange tool for improving scientific publication. The Seminar programme centred on the 2017 strategic plan for UOC academic publications and analysis and discussion of the arbitrated or peer review process.

The key word: internationalization

The seminar was opened by Dr Marta Aymerich, Vice President for Strategic Planning and Research, who highlighted the huge leap made by the UOC's scientific journals. Among the points covered, there is a significant number of women on the editorial teams: 45% are women, including authors, reviewers and members of management. Aymerich also presented the action lines of the UOC academic publications. Generally speaking, editorial teams will be addressing a broader scientific and academic audience to raise visibility and international dissemination of research. In other words, attention will be focused on the impact that the content has around the world.

The gatekeepers of science: editors and reviewers

Sending scientific papers to the team at a journal is just the tip of the iceberg in the editorial process. What follows is a rigorous quality control system, peer review. The Seminar has become a meeting point where the positives and negatives of this process are discussed, from the ethical, academic and practical point of view. Dr Àlex Lopez Borrull, associate professor with the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences, presented its foundations and trends. But what exactly is peer review? The author sends the scientific paper to the editorial team at the journal, who at the same time make it available to two or more reviewers, experts in the discipline in question. These specialists examine the quality, originality, thoroughness and suitability of the paper, and reject or approve it.

As Borrull says, peer review ensured that journals remained a pillar of scientific communication during the twentieth century. However, it is not without limitations. Over time, different alternatives designed to improve it have been created. Specifically, the UOC's scientific journals follow a double-blind peer review process, a variant that maintains anonymity and removes all traces from the articles that may identify the author. The Seminar also reflected on open peer review: articles reviewed by a scientific community.

However, as Elsa Corominas, in charge of scientific publishing at the UOC, stresses, action by the editorial team is crucial to ensure that peer review works correctly. Direct and clear communication with the author must be maintained at all times; transparency regarding expert and independent reviewers must be ensured; a review must be conducted prior to the peer review to speed up the editorial process; the dissemination of academic work must be fostered.

UOC publications

Following this, representatives of the UOC journals' editorial boards debated and exchanged experiences:

  • Natàlia Cantó, director of Digithum, described the reviewer loyalty actions in the journal co-published with the University of Antioquia.
  • Maria José Pifarré stressed the difficulty of finding experts in emerging Law subjects to review articles for IDP, revista d’Internet, Dret i Política.
  • Montse Mir presented the article review system for the incipient UOC R&I Working Papers.
  • Candela Ollé, director of the journal BID, championed teamwork in editorial review processes while reporting on the path towards the deseasonalized publication of articles in the journal co-published with the University of Barcelona.
  • Olívia Gassol, director of Dictadures i Transicions, the successor to Franquisme i Transició, shared the experience of the editorial relationship with authors in tandem with the review teams, which are renewed every year in the journal co-published with the Carles Pi i Sunyer Foundation.
  • Ana Rodríguez, from the Artnodes editorial board, described the review methodology centred on transparency.
  • Josep Maria Duart, director of ETHE, took part from the University of Los Andes, co-publisher of the journal, to champion the need to commit to quality and response time in the editorial review processes.

The seminar ended with the presentation of the next UOC Scientific Publishing Seminar, to be held in October. Library and Learning Resources has a team responsible for the implementation and fulfilment of the UOC protocol for scientific journals, committed to ensuring the quality of the scientific journals and helping to improve their positioning.