Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Choosing a research publication outlet

I’m reluctant to post this. It’s part of a pragmatic approach to figuring out where, as an Australian academic, I should try and target publications. It seeks to identify publications in the higher education and educational technology areas that would be “best”.

I’m well aware of the questionable aspects of this approach, but if this is the game…. Especially when your institution is starting to discuss definitions of research active staff – the implication being that if you aren’t research active you don’t get time to do research – that include requirements for fixed numbers of A and A* journals within a 3 year period.

My mitigation strategy against this type of pragmatism is that I am fairly open when it comes to my research. Much of it gets an airing here first. It’s not much, but better than nothing (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

For my immediate purposes, it looks like AJET is a good fit. A journal that is open access.

Work to do

  • Find out how much value is placed on the difference between A and A* journals.
  • Check the final lists from the government to see if rankings have changed.

What’s your suggestion?

What’s the “best” publication outlet?

I’m assuming that when it comes to writing a paper based on that research that the first step is to choose the outlet. Which journal or conference are you aiming the paper at? I think you need to answer this question as there is a part of the writing process that has to respond to the specifics of the outlet (e.g. address the theme of a conference etc.).
In answering this question, I can think of at least the following dimensions to consider:

  1. Quality.
    There are two common strategies I’ve heard: top down or bottom up. Bottom up folk go for the “worst” journal based on the hope that their poor article will get accepted. The top down folk suggest starting at the top because you never know, you might get lucky, and if you don’t you will at least get good feedback to improve the paper. At this stage you prepare it for submission to outlet #2.
  2. Fit.
    i.e. the one which best fits the topic or point of your paper. Which may be to visit Hawaii (conference) or might be a topic match (the paper “Gerbils preference in social software” might be a good fit for the journal “Studies in Gerbil Selection of Social Software”.
  3. Speed of review.
    How quickly will the journal accept and publish your paper.
  4. Openness.
    Are the papers published in a closed or open manner? Can you circulate copies? Is the journal an open access journals .

The rankings approach that is increasingly prevalent tends to suggest that “Quality” is the first choice. The following focuses on the quality dimension, however, in operation there needs to be an appropriate balance with the other factors.

How to judge the top quality publication?

The “top quality publication” dimension begs the question, “How do you know what is the top quality publication?”. In some disciplines this is a clear cut thing. You can’t be a researcher within a field without knowing. The trouble is that in some other fields, it’s not so clear. Especially if you’re new to the field.

Those wonderful folk in the Australian government, following the lead of their British colleagues, are making it easier for us poor Australian academics. As part of this work they are developing “discipline-specific tiered outlet rankings”. i.e. if you want to play the game, you follow their rankings – while trying to balance the other dimensions.

While the Oz government lists are still under development John Lamp is providing a nice interface to view the rankings as part of his broader site. There’s a but field of research method and a search. This is provided for two lists from the Australian Research Council – an early draft one and a more recent one. The recent one isn’t that integrated into the database – so the following information is a bit out of date, but it gives an indication.

In the following I’ve selected those journals of potentially most interest to me – I could be mistaken and have left some important ones out – but it’s a start. I’ve added a link to the journal home page and made some comments from my look at their online information.

My main interests are in educational technology within higher education, so that’s the focus. Suggestions and comments welcome.

One of the outstanding tasks I have, is to determine how much of a difference folk are making between A and A* journals.

Higher education

Most of these are selected from this list

Ranking Journal Comments
A* Higher Education Research and Development Max 7000 words
Closed access
6 issues a year
A* Studies in Higher Education Max 7000 words
Closed access
8 issues a year
A Higher Education Quarterly

Associated with Society for Reseach in Higher Education
A Higher Education Review 5K to 10K words
Copyright is assigned to Tyrrell Burgess Associates with a fee? to cover all rights. Author allowed to circulate with acknolwedgement
This is interesting

HIGHER EDUCATION REVIEW is committed to a problem-based epistemology. In all countries there is an urgent need to formulate the problems of post school education, to propose alternative solutions and to test them. The policy and practice of governments and institutions require constant scrutiny. New policies and ideas are needed in all forms of post school education as new challenges arise.

A International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

he specific emphasis of IJTLHE is the dissemination of knowledge for improving higher education pedagogy.

Review process ~ 3 months
4K to 7K words
3 types of article: research, instructional (designed to explain and clarify innovative higher education teaching methods) and review

A Journal of Higher Education 6 issues a year
Paper-based submission!!!
Max 30 pages, double-spaced
12 months submission to publication (usuaully)
A Teaching in Higher Education One aim of journal “identifies new agendas for research”
3K to 6K words
6 issues a year

Coming out of that table, the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education sounds interesting, at least for me. It’s open access, shortish review times, promise of good feedback, has a couple of types of articles and is related to the scholarship of learning and teaching which is connection to an aspect of my current position.

Educational technology journals

Most of these came from this list

Ranking Journal Comments
A* British Journal of Educational Technology Closed
Various suggestions it’s the top journal in this sort of field.
Only 4000 words
Not clear about hosting your own sites
6 issues a year
A* Computers & Education Closed
8 issues a year
Impact factor higher than BJET?
Apparently horrible restrictions on reuse
Authors suggest reviewers!
No max length
A ALT-J 3 times a year
Basically closed
5K words
A Australasian Journal of Educational Technology Open access
5k to 8K words, with occasional flexibility
A Australian Educational Computing 2 issues a year
A Educational Technology & Society Open access
7K words
About 4 issues a year
A Educational Technology Research and Development Closed
Claimed two month review process
5K to 8K words
A Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Closed
3K to 7K words
A Technology Pedagogy and Education Closed
3 issues a year
B International Journal on E-Learning Closed
AACE journal
B Internet and Higher Education Closed
10 to 30 pages double spaced
C Studies in Learning Evaluation Innovation and Development Open
3K to 6K
Disclaimer: I’m associated with this journal

Discipline specific and curriculum

Sometimes I do work with discipline folk, some of the following might be interesting. More of these journals here. I’ve only included links for these.

Ranking Journal
A* Management Learning
A* Nursing outlook
A* Science Education
A Computer Science Education
A Journal of Engineering Education


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  1. Good luck with the publishing, David. I’ve always gone for fit because I am working in a field where the rankings mean very little (I think the highest ranking nursing journal is about 1 on the scale of up to 50 odd), although perhaps these newer scales will be more discipline specific. the other thing I became aware of early in my career was that of paying to have your work published (and since I am poor I haven’t gone that path, but I do still come across it in the guidelines for various journals).


    • Thanks for the comments Wendy. Paying for publication, I’ve seen it in the odd place, but it still amazes me. Somewhat contrary to the process, I would’ve thought. But I guess that some conferences amount to almost the same thing, though payment (in terms of conference registration) does come after acceptance…

      My understanding is that all Australian academics, at least for the next couple of years, are going to have to focus more on rankings. The site I used above has a ranked list of nursing journals. The times may be a changing.

  2. Thanks for that David, this certainly looks fairer than previous lists I’ve seen, although I am interested that really specific subject areas where there are few people actually working in them rank so high (eg Journal of Adolescent Health). One has to wonder sometimes how they come up with these rankings.


    • I am sure it was a purely rational process with ranking and selection based solely on objective measures. No place in such a process for bias or boosterism.

      Oh look, flying pork. šŸ™‚

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