Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Choosing a research publication outlet: Part II

My name is David. I’m an academic. It’s been 8 years since my last journal paper (but what a paper it was, thanks Shirley).

In my defence, for three of those years I was finishing the PhD, 1 year finishing a GDL&T, three years getting used to a new discipline, and generally just cynical about the whole journal process, and not having much I considered useful to say. But that has to change, otherwise I’ll have some explaining to do. This year is about writing some journal papers. So where should I publish?

I asked and answered a similar question in 2009, hopefully this time I might actually go the next step and write something.

(Note: I start the writing process by getting to know the destination. The theory being that a paper is more likely to get accepted if it fits the requirements, aims, tone etc of the destination. I already have a few ideas re: papers, finding a suitable destination is the first task.)

What’s changed since 2009?

I’ve officially moved from the Information Systems discipline to Education. But given I was originally focused on educational technology, the journals identified in that original post are still suitable.

I’m at a new university that has recently introduced awards for journal articles “designed to encourage .. researchers to make strategic decisions about the journals in which they seek to publish, in order to help them get the best return on their research efforts and as a crucial step in improving the research performance of … as an institution”. Obviously linked to the on-going ERA. This is judged largely on the Scopus SNIP (Source-Normalized Impact per Paper) index.

Obviously there is more to research impact than the journal’s “citation potential”, but it’s the current measure of choice. At the very least I’ll have to consider it.

Updating the list

For the following list I’ve

  1. Taken a list of journals mentioned in the original post.

    Have excluded a couple I no longer deem interesting.

  2. Added any other journals I think potentially relevant.
  3. Identified/updated the following information about the journals
    • Ranking as per the Oz government approach.
      This was used in the 2009 ERA, but wasn’t used in the 2012 exercise.
    • SNIP
      Provided by this search form.
    • h5-index and h5-median.
      In my travels I’ve discovered various other types of rankings such as Google scholar’s method which generates the following for

    • Are the papers open or closed?

      This remains an important personal consideration.

    • Position on article copyright.

      i.e. is it ok for me to put a copy of the article on my personal site? A potential proxy for being open.

    • Max paper size.
    • # Issues per year.
    • Turnaround time on review.
    • ERA FoR
      Using John Lamp’s interface to the ERA data.

Once I have that information, the plan is to look more closely at the current editorial directions and the types of papers being accepted for publication in each of the different journals.

The list and observations

The complete list is available as a Google spreadsheet.

The top 10 journals ordered by SNIP are

  1. Computers and Education
  2. Internet and Higher Education
  3. Studies in Higher Education
  4. Educational Technology Research & Development
  6. British Journal of Educational Technology
  7. Educational Technology & Society
  8. Higher Education Research & Development
  9. Teaching in Higher Education
  10. AJET

The top 10 journals ordered h5-index as per Google Scholar are

  1. Computers and Education
  2. British Journal of Educational Technology
  3. Educational Technology & Society
  4. Internet and Higher Education
  6. Educational Technology Research & Development
  7. Studies in Higher Education
  8. AJET
  9. Higher Education Research & Development
  10. Teaching in Higher Education

Interesting to see BJET and ET&S climb the ladder in terms of h5-index.

Could I win an institutional award?

This is not the purpose for writing, but it’s an interesting exercise in exploring how level the playing field is between various disciplines (other than the sciences).

The only results I can find for the institutional publication awards had the following SNIP values

  • 1st – 3.154
  • 2nd – 3.01
  • 3rd – 2.181
  • Student award – 3.273
  • Special mention – 8.2

    An article in Nature that was in the wrong time frame.

Computers and Education is by far the highest ranked of these journals using either SNIP of h5-index. C&E’s SNIPP value was 3.29. Meaning a first place, at least for the above period.

Internet and Higher Education has a SNIP value of 2.55, making 3rd possible.

BJET, IRRODL and AJET (the most familiar journals to me) have SNIPP values of: 1.71, 1.77 and 1.16 respectively.

While a sample size of one isn’t great, it appears possible but only just if I focus on higher education or general educational technology journals.

The couple of teacher education related journals that get a mention either don’t have a SNIPP or have one just above 1. Not likely to please the “impact police”. Of course, I didn’t go searching for more general teacher education journals.

Other misc. observations on journals

Computers and Education

Apparently has a “liberal copyright policy”. Which appears to permit posting to open websites but doesn’t exactly trumpet that position, e.g. doesn’t appear to be mentioned on this page.

There is a choice to publish an article as open access, but there’s a fee required. $1800!!!!!! But as an author you do get a 30% discount on Elsevier books.

Recommends a clearly defined article structure. Wonder how many published articles follow that? Apparently not many.

Has a “turnaround time” of around 10 weeks.

Internet and Higher Education

Audience – “faculty, administrators, and librarians charged with the responsibility of fostering the use of information technology and the Internet on their respective campuses.” Potentially a good fit.

Seems Elsevier have a standard structure they like. Same here as Computers & Education.

About a 5 week turnaround time.

Educational Technology Research and Development

Two month turn around claimed.

The fee for your article being open access is $USD3000!!!!


$USD3000 cost for open. Not real clear about whether it’s okay to share versions of articles via personal websites.

So where might I publish?

No clear winner, but some thoughts include

  • Publishing in Computers and Education would satisfy the “impact police” but the initial topic I have planned may not fit well.
  • My preference is in open access journals and IRRODL is perhaps a closer fit for what I’m thinking of writing.
  • Internet and Higher Education is a closed journal, but also a reasonable fit and it promises the fastest decision time.

Time will tell.


This year it's all about the connections


Learning about case study methodology to research higher education


  1. My name is Sarah and I am an even naughtier academic because I have never published a journal article in 5 years of academia ;). In my defence I did reproduce in that time, but still.

    Thanks for writing this post. I’m well aware that if I’m going to stick around I do need to play this game no matter how much it pains me (why yes, I would love to pay $3000 and wait months or potentially years for something I can publish for free on my own site this afternoon, just so I can say it was blind peer reviewed). 2015 is also about writing journal papers for me, so I’m hoping I can follow your lead and cast aside the cynicism sufficiently.

    • Perhaps we should set up an AA equivalent? šŸ™‚

      They bang on about impact, but I’ve had more people read a recent conference paper I posted to this site, than I imagine will read it in the proceedings once published. Not to mention the number that read most journal articles. Could be a topic for a paper, but then that would just be seeking to avoid actually writing the papers I should.

    • Thinking of people finding my work is where the interest in open access comes from. Just did a quick graph (click on it to see it bigger) of the SNIPP (journal impact) and Google h5 indicate measures for the journals above.

      Journal Comparison

      What I find interesting here is the bump that AJET (open access) gets in the h5 measures relative to its SNIPP. And to a slightly lesser extent the bumps that the other open access journals (IRRODL, ET&S, and Research in Learning Technology) get compared to some higher closed journals.

      So I am thinking of aiming for Computers and Education or some other “high impact” journal for both the challenge (can I do it) and to be seen as a team player (of course a draft of any such paper would be freely available from my website) But after that, I’ll stick with open access.

      Now all I have to do is write the buggers.

  2. My name is Chris. I am an academic. I had a journal paper accepted yesterday.
    The ERA exercise is not based on journal metrics, but on the metrics for individual papers. So send your paper wherever you think your readers will best find it. Cast aside all the cynicism. You don’t need to play the game their way: you can play the game your way. This old post of mine is kinda sorta appropriate, I guess.

    • Given that the lag time between me commenting and tweeting that I had done so, and you commenting is a grand total of 17 minutes, and you are a reasonable representation of ‘my readers’, it’s fair to say that the answer to the question ‘where will my readers best find my stuff’ is probably never going to be a journal. But I take your point. Avoiding it out of hand is not doing anyone any favours.

    • Chris you’ve pointed out one of the inconsistencies between the institutional awards and the ERA (and more typical academic behaviour). i.e. the awards are based on journal impact (however that’s measured), but it’s the citation count (however that’s measured) that tend to be more important.

      It’s one of the reasons I’m more interested in publishing in open access journals. Assumption being the open access means more chance of people seeing (and hopefully citing). Especially given Sarah’s comment below about the likely readership of hers and my work.

      But playing the institutional game (or being seen to be playing it) has some small value.

      But in the end, I do get to decide how I play the game.

  3. A LONG time ago (so long ago, my own place has trashed it) I wrote this:
    Some details are now out of date, but I think the main ideas stand.

    Also, there’s open access and there’s open access. There’s very few (but there are some, and not always the one’s that you would think) publishers that do not allow to place a post-print version of your work in an institutional repository. A little while back I went through my own records in the repository here, with the help of the research publications staff, and attached either a link to open access versions or a post-print version to everything that I could. There were very few cases in which publishers expressly forbid one or other of those options.

    For example, BJET …
    … and Computers & Education …
    … both allow this. I need to go through again for some more recent entries in the repository and sort this out.

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