Research Publishing in the 21st century: Revisiting the process and the product

Dushyanthi Mendis, Department of English, University of Colombo


The public perception of Universities is that they are institutions whose academic staff uphold high standards of teaching and engage in research that benefits the community.  Research is typically understood to be the seeking of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, the proposing of new theories, and the publication of findings/results.  Coleman (2014) highlights two principal reasons for research publishing – the dissemination of the latest empirical findings and theories, and to bring prestige to researchers and their institutions. A third reason, particularly in Sri Lankan Universities which place an emphasis on teaching, is the inclusion of new knowledge or discoveries in course content and curricula.

Over the years, practices of research and research publishing have undergone several evolutionary changes. For instance, ethical considerations, especially in studies involving human participants, have become more rigorous, and some of the data collection practices linguists engaged in less than 50 years ago would be unacceptable today; also, no reputable publisher will accept a manuscript without an indication that prior informed consent was obtained from the research participants of the study. Online publishing has resulted in a substantial increase in academic journals (many of which are now primarily digital publications) over the last 30 years; and the expansion of digital spaces available for both information retrieval and dissemination has meant that research findings have found a home in online media such as personal webpages, blogs and even social media networks.

The objective of this paper is to discuss 21st century changes in research practices in relation to a discourse which has as its principal focus the issues related to publishing research. Too often this discourse is about the end product, with little or no attention paid to the steps that need to be navigated before the final outcome of publication can be reached.

Research publishing is, however, a journey, with several stages between the beginning and the end. Thus, while discussions of issues and problems which cluster around the beginning or the end of the journey, such as a paucity of funding or resources, a lack of time for research activities, or the rejection of a conference abstract or journal article are all valid concerns, there are many other difficulties and challenges inherent in the research process, which can also present obstacles to successful publishing. For instance, identifying a suitable platform for publication, using the appropriate methodology with due consideration given to ethical protocols, addressing reviewer feedback to the satisfaction of an editor, even using a journal’s recommended style guide accurately and adhering to its formatting requirements are all parts of the research process to which attention must be paid for the outcome to be successful in terms of a publication.

One of the main arguments of this paper therefore is that the research process is an integral part of the research product. This paper also argues that the recent emphasis on the quantification of research outcomes as a result of institutional pressures to publish, has had a detrimental effect on the quality of research, not only in the Humanities and Social Sciences, but in all academic disciplines. It has encouraged the proliferation of predatory publishers and publications, with an ‘anything goes’ ideology that academics have bought into in order to satisfy the requirements of a promotion scheme or an outstanding research award; the competitive nature of some academic positions (E.g. a Department Chair) or research grant can also have a detrimental effect on the ideals of knowledge-sharing, collaborative efforts and cooperation between colleagues. Internationally, there is a strong move towards collaboration in research, with some high impact journals encouraging authors / researchers to make the databases on which their publication is based available and accessible to other researchers, partly in relation to transparency, but also to promote knowledge sharing, even across disciplinary boundaries. For example, the Journal of English for Academic Purposes (JEAP), published by Elsevier, encourages authors to consider uploading their data to an online repository (See Appendix for extract). It is time therefore not only for a repositioning of the emphasis placed on the research process and product, but also to re-examine the impact that the quantification of research output has had on the quality of research produced.

The rest of this paper will highlight selected aspects of the research publishing process which, if not paid attention to, can have a negative impact on the final product. Beginning with the danger posed by predatory publishers, the positive aspects of the peer review process and the importance of adhering to ethical practices in research will be discussed. Mentoring practices, the presence or absence of which can have an impact on all of the above, is also recognized as an important part of the research process. The second part of this paper focuses on research products, beginning with institutional pressures to publish, and moving on to a critical analysis of a metric commonly used to quantify an academic’s research output – the h index.  The paper concludes with proposing a platform for research publishing which, if utilised correctly, can address most, if not all, of the issues related to research publishing highlighted here.

The Research Process

There are many books and journal articles which unpack the elements and stages of the research process. A simple Google search using the keywords Getting Published in Academic Journals yielded How-to book titles in disciplines as varied as Anthropology, Bio Medicine, Life Sciences, Psychology, and Women’s Studies, which point to the high stakes aspect of research publishing in all academic disciplines. From the perspective of my discipline, Linguistics, I find the work of Coleman (2014), Paltridge and Starfield (2016) and Habibie and Hyland (2019) particularly relevant and useful in discussing and disambiguating the steps and procedures an aspiring author needs to navigate in order to achieve a successful outcome in terms of a publication. These three works, as well as a selection of recently published journal articles are cited as support for the main arguments of this paper.

Coleman (2014) writes from the perspective of an author, teacher, reviewer and perhaps most pertinently, the Editor-in-Chief of System, a high-ranking journal in the field of Linguistics. He begins by addressing the question of how to select a target journal, and moves on to discuss the submission process, the peer review process and how to respond to and deal with reviewer feedback. He also acknowledges the difficulties of publishing in an English language journal if your first language is not English (p. 406). Coleman’s article ends with a short section on Open Access publishing and predatory “junk journals” (p. 410). In their book titled Getting published in academic journals: Navigating the publication process, Paltridge and Starfield (2016) devote an entire chapter to explain how to decide which academic journal to publish in; other chapters focus on the conventions of academic discourse, the sub-genres of introduction and discussion sections, and similar to Coleman (2014), the peer review process and responding to reviewer reports. Habibie and Hyland’s (2019) work is an edited collection of chapters specifically targeting novice writers, i.e., doctoral students and Early Career Researchers ERCs. Individual chapters address issues of writing for publication, including mentoring and collaborative writing, text mediation, the review process, journal practices, and editorial decision making (p. 4). In contrast to Coleman (2014), Habibie and Hyland are of the view that researchers whose first language is not English are not at a particular disadvantage in publishing because “the enormous challenges of gaining acceptance for research in prestigious journals” (2019, p. 5) are faced by native speakers of English as well.

Predatory publishing

A danger facing researchers in all disciplines is that of predatory publishing, which did not pose a significant threat in the pre-digital era. In the last few decades, however, predatory journals have become “a global threat” (Grudniewicz et al., 2019, p.1). Krawczyk and Kulczycki (2020) state that the pressure to publish exerted by universities and policy makers on academic staff could be “an important explanatory factor for the predatory publishing phenomenon” (p. 5) which has grown exponentially. According to Mathew et al., the exact number of predatory publications are difficult to determine because of their unstable nature; but in 2014 “it was estimated that 420,000 articles were counted from approximately 8000 journals presumed to be deceptive in nature, representing an eight-fold rise in five years” (2021, p.1).

Teixiera da Silva et al. (2019) note that within the discourse related to ‘predatory’ publishing, the term “predatory” has become equated with “exploitation” as well as “unscholarly behaviour” (p. 3). However, the notion of “predatoriness” can be understood and defined in many other ways, as demonstrated by Teixeira da Silva et al. (2019); also, not all publications engaging in unscholarly practices share the same characteristics. This has made it a challenge to formulate a definition that everyone agrees with. In 2019, a group of 43 academics from 10 countries put together a definition that captures most of the characteristics typical of predatory publications:

“Predatory journals and publishers are entities that prioritize self-interest at the expense of scholarship and are characterized by false or misleading information, deviation from best editorial and publication practices, a lack of transparency, and/or the use of aggressive and indiscriminate solicitation practices” (Grudniewicz et al., 2019, p. 211).

While even experienced researchers can be deceived by a predatory publisher (Teixeira da Silva et al., 2019; Grudniewicz et al., 2019), Merga and Mason (2021) and Mathew et al. (2021) make the point that a lack of experience coupled with the pressure to publish make early career researchers (ECRs) particularly susceptible to exploitation by predatory publishers. Even unknowingly publishing your research in a predatory journal can lead to serious repercussions. It can cause damage to scholarly reputations, and also result in doubts being cast on the validity of the research, or the risk of research findings being ignored. Identifying the right platform to disseminate research output is therefore something that needs to be undertaken with care, caution and awareness. Teixeira da Silva et al (2019)’s finding that “A majority of researchers submitting their work to predatory journals are from developing countries” (p. 5) makes it all the more important to educate young ECRs in Sri Lanka on how to recognise red flags that signal exploitation and other types of predatory behaviour and how to avoid the pitfalls of engaging with such unethical publishing. Coleman (2014, p. 410-411) provides a comprehensive account of the characteristics of predatory publications when he says:

You can identify them easily: … their titles have very broad scope, you have never heard of the publisher, the editors or editorial board, they promise publication within a matter of weeks, they send circular emails asking for submissions, they always charge authors (but may offer a discount or not mention the cost until you have submitted), they claim to be abstracted and indexed but they do not have an impact factor. They claim peer review but actually accept any author who pays, so a single issue can attain enormous proportions, with error-strewn articles of poor quality, by unknowns, in poor English. They have an ISSN (but anyone can get one free), and they imitate respectable open access journals by stressing ‘open access’, ‘international’, ‘indexed by.’ and ‘peer review’, but links with established universities are hard to find. Not all predatory journals display all of the above features; but three or more should be sufficient to warrant further investigation.

The peer review process

According to Paltridge (2017, as cited in Tardy, 2019), peer reviewing became a common part of academic publishing after World War II. It is therefore not a new process; and as everyone is aware, it is now firmly established as a necessary practice to ensure high standards of quality in the dissemination of research methodologies and results/findings. However, the peer review is an intimidating process not only for novice scholars (Tardy, 2019), but for experienced scholars (Corcoran, 2017) as well. Much of the trepidation felt by researchers is probably due to the discomfort of engaging with an unknown entity (the reviewer), with a journal or book editor as a mediating agent; and also the awareness of the power that reviewers have over an author since journal editors in particular rely heavily on reviewers’ recommendations when making decisions on whether to accept or reject a manuscript. Shvidko and Atkinson (2019, p. 107) report that the peer review was the most common difficulty mentioned by the participants of their study, both on an emotional and practical level. This is not surprising, as review reports can be harsh, confusing, unclear and even unfair. An aspiring author can sometimes be unlucky enough to be assigned a reviewer who is not familiar with the theoretical basis of their paper. On the flip side, however, Coleman (2014) makes a point worth keeping in mind when he says that if the reviewers are those of a reputed international journal, they are likely to be “top names in the world” (p. 408); his advice is that it is therefore to the author’s advantage to accept the feedback, even though it might “come as a burning disappointment” (p. 408).

There is agreement in the literature that an author can disagree with a reviewer’s recommendation, as long as a suitable justification or argument is given (Coleman, 2014; Paltridge & Starfield, 2016; Tardy, 2019); but the question of which recommendations can be safely rebutted is often a difficult one for an ECR to answer. This is where a mentor or an experienced co-author can provide invaluable advice and guidance, underscoring the importance and necessity of good mentoring as one of the most challenging steps of the research publication process.

Ethics in research

The necessity of adhering to ethical practices, especially in data collection, is a development that is relatively recent in Humanities and Social Sciences research in Sri Lanka. In 2014, an Ethics Review Committee for Social Sciences and the Humanities was established in the Faculty of Arts, and all academic staff and postgraduate students of the Faculty who plan to collect data from human participants are advised to submit their research protocols to this committee for approval, prior to commencing their research activities.

Ethical practices in the research process are not limited to data collection. Every aspect of the research process discussed above has strong ethical underpinnings. In terms of publishing, however, the most pertinent (and unfortunately quite common) violation of ethics is plagiarism. Simply put, plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property, and is “accentuated by the ease of cut- and-paste at a time when virtually all research articles, and an increasing number of books and book chapters are available in electronic form” (Coleman, 2014, p. 409). However, this also means that the detection of plagiarism from these very sources by means of software programs is quick, and easy; something all aspiring authors would do well to take note of, because the detection of plagiarism in a manuscript can result in all future submissions being blocked by a journal’s editor.


It should be clear by now that, with such dangers lurking in 21st century research publishing for both experienced and inexperienced academics, a process of mentoring by informed colleagues who have an awareness and understanding of unscrupulous and dishonest practices in academia is a vital need. Mentoring, described as “an intense interpersonal exchange between a senior, experienced, and knowledgeable employee (i.e., the mentor) who provides advice, counsel, feedback, and support related to career and personal development for a less experienced employee” (Turban & Lee, 2008 as cited in Merga & Mason, 2021, p. 3) is an essential component of a novice or ECR’s research publication journey.

A good mentor can provide advice and insights into aspects of the research process that are not very transparent (E.g. the peer review), and which are known only to select members of the academic discourse community. Mentoring relationships can emerge informally, or they can be a part of a formal program (Schriever & Granger, 2019, as cited in Merga & Mason, 2021). The participants of Merga and Mason’s (2021) study reported that mentors provided support in the publication journey by giving feedback, co-authoring research, providing encouragement and also assistance with editing. My perception as a member of a Faculty of Arts that houses both Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines is that there is a lack of mentoring support for ECRs. The Faculties of Medicine and Science of the University of Colombo, on the other hand, have established mentorship programs both to train mentors as well as to ensure that mentoring support is made available for ECRs. In the Faculty of Arts, one can only speculate as to the reasons for

lesser visibility of mentoring; but a few that come to mind are a lack of training and / or understanding on how to be a good mentor, or that some experienced researchers are themselves not entirely confident about how to navigate the research and publication process[1]. A third, and far more troubling possibility might be that due to research production becoming more and more competitive, some experienced faculty members view their junior colleagues as potential threats – i.e., that junior colleagues might overtake them in the publication race by becoming more successful researchers. Whatever the reasons might be, a lack of mentoring can lead to significant challenges for ECRs. Merga and Mason (2021), who observe that research communication can be a challenging set of skills to learn, report that participants of their study who did not have mentors felt that this put them in a position of “comparative vulnerability” (p. 3).

For mentoring to be taken seriously and viewed as an activity that promotes both self- growth as well as self-worth, it should be recognized and rewarded at the institutional level. Ideally, a training program for senior and middle level academic staff, who can perform the role of a mentor for more junior ECRs should be instituted. If engaged in correctly and ethically, a mentoring partnership can be immensely satisfying and productive for both mentor and mentee, (Darvin & Norton, 2019; Ferris 2019). Therefore, if a University expects a significant research output from their staff, they should also ensure that support is provided through facilitating mentoring and peer relationships (Merga & Mason 2021).

In the literature on academic mentoring, two processes that are mentioned as being particularly useful for ECRs as an introduction to some of the more challenging aspects of the publication process are collaborative writing or co-authoring a publication with a supervisor or an experienced researcher (Darvin & Norton, 2019; Shvidko & Atkinson, 2019). Referring to the doctoral level, Darvin and Norton assert that collaborative writing between a student and a supervisor can be a valuable component of the academic socialization process. However, it should be kept in mind that collaborative writing and co-authorship should not result in the exploitation of the ECR’s labour by the mentor or supervisor. For co-authorship to be a fair and transparent process, the writers’ roles and responsibilities and most of all their individual contributions should

be worked out as clearly as possible, keeping in mind that even the best-demarcated responsibilities can change or shift during the research process. Co-authorship is “a powerful form of mentorship that allows both the novice and the expert to reimagine identities and agentive possibilities” (Darvin & Norton 2019, p. 178). A reimagining of identities is important because it allows the ECR to find his or her own voice in the research narrative, which is an important first step in the process of academic socialisation.

Research products

Research output has a significant impact on the individual as well as on the institution. At an individual level, in order to be hired for a permanent position in a University, academic qualifications alone are no longer sufficient; it is expected that candidates applying for university teaching positions have a few journal articles already published before they do so (Bhatia, 2019). This expectation can be seen in local universities as well. Evaluation criteria used by selection panels at hiring interviews typically include a section for the assessment of a candidate’s research portfolio. Once in the university system, upward mobility in the form of promotions from the Grade of Lecturer to Senior Lecturer and thereafter to Associate Professor, Professor or Senior Professor is dependent to a large part on an academic’s research output. In the UGC’s current scheme of promotion (in effect since 2009[2]), the cumulative minimum points required of an applicant for the position of Associate Professor/Professor is highest in the category of Research, Scholarship and Creative Work as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Minimum marks/standards

 Associate Professor Internal                 Associate Professor External Professor (Merit)
Contribution to teaching & Academic Development100505
Research, Scholarship & Creative Work253535
Dissemination of Knowledge and contribution to University & National Development100505
Minimum Required Total Mark707070

Note: Source: University Grants Commission Circular No 916

At the institutional level, the cumulative research output of a University’s academic staff is given importance because it impacts the institution’s annual ranking at the national, regional and global levels. Rankings are a manifestation of neo-liberal ideologies that have infiltrated the higher education sector at a global level, and Sri Lanka is no exception. Coleman (2014) observes that “… in the complex global market which higher education has become, publication and citation rates contribute to all of the national and global university rankings” (p. 404). This sentiment is echoed by Sanchez (2014) who comments that research productivity is “a critical factor” (p.37) when arguing for scarce resources, comparing academic programs, or when universities are competing with each other in global educational and research markets.

It is therefore not difficult to see how the presenting and publishing of research has been transformed into a contest of outputs and products under the onslaught of contemporary global trends. An emphasis on the research product does not necessarily entail a negative outcome. It can, for example, broaden our perspectives and acceptance of what constitutes a research product in online publishing and evolving digital spaces. However, there could also be negative outcomes when a quantification of research output is the primary, or even the sole assessment in a University’s internal recognition or reward scheme such as a Senate or Faculty Award for outstanding research. Such awards set up a contest between colleagues, and can sometimes lead to acrimony and allegations of unfairness. Financial remuneration schemes such as the Research Allowance which is closely tied to research output can have long-term detrimental effects on the quality of research products – for example, according to Demir (2018, as cited in Mathew et al., 2021, p. 6) “a rapid jump” in submissions to predatory publications was seen in Nigeria following the introduction of an academic/incentive allowance per publication. The next section of this paper will discuss in greater detail some of the less than satisfactory outcomes of an emphasis on the quantification of the research product.

The h-index

In 2018, the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a circular[3] titled Transparent Research Performance Scheme to recognize researchers in the University System. According to the Circular, this scheme was devised in order to “recognize research performance and rank researchers … in the university system” (University Grants Commission, 2018, p. 1). The ranking will be based on the value of an academic’s h-index, as reported by Google Scholar (University Grants Commission, 2018, p. 1). Two aims are fairly clear here: the Circular is an attempt to assess research performance based on a quantification of research output, and to compare researchers from all disciplines represented in the Sri Lankan University system by means of a common tool of measurement – the h-index.

The h-index is a part of the high frequency vocabulary of the contemporary discourse of academic publishing, along with related terms such as i10-index, citation metrics, impact factor, etc. It was proposed by the physicist Jorge Hirsch in 2005 as a way of quantifying the cumulative impact and relevance of an individual’s scientific research output (Hirsch, 2005, p. 16569). The h- index is defined as “A scientist has index h if h of his or her Np papers have at least h citations each and the other (Np – h) papers have ≤ h citations each” (Hirsch, 2005, p. 16569). In other words, a researcher with an index of h has published h number of papers, each of which has been cited h times. The h-index was devised by Hirsch to overcome the problem of a researcher appearing to be highly influential on his or her field by having a large number of citations for a single work (Spicer 2015). It aims to provide a robust, single-number metric of an academic’s research impact by combining quality with quantity (Harzing, 2010). However, Hirsch himself admitted that quantifying an individual’s scientific research output could be “potentially distasteful” (2005, p. 16569), and that the index does in effect cloud or mask information such as the number of papers published over n years, the journals where the papers were published, their impact parameters, etc. Proponents of the h-index as a tool of measurement argue that because it is a common criterion that is applied to all researchers, it avoids subjective assessments. What such arguments fail to consider is that using a common yardstick to quantify research output in disciplinary areas as varied as for example, Humanities on the one hand and Medicine on the other, is both problematic and unfair because of significant differences in methodological approaches, types of data, discursive practices, length of publications, typical number of co-authors, etc. In fact, Hirsch himself, in his original article, makes no mention of using the h-index to evaluate research outputs in Humanities or Social Sciences disciplines. Hirsch proposed the h-index for Physics, and only “suggests” that “the h index should be useful for other scientific disciplines as well” (2005, p. 16569). He goes on to acknowledge that there will be differences in typical h values in different fields (p. 16571), and that “Scientists working in nonmainstream areas will not achieve the same very high h values as the top echelon of those working in highly topical areas” (p. 16571).

Hirsch’s observation above is very relevant for some Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines. An area such as Fine Arts, for example, while not quite “nonmainstream”, is nevertheless very different from other Humanities and Arts disciplines in terms of research products. Some of these products, especially those in the performance aspects of music, dance or theatre studies most likely will not be listed in a Google Scholar (GS) academic profile. Similarly, publications in Sinhala or Tamil do not appear in GS profiles. This makes the h-index, if based on data from GS, an inappropriate and unfair metric of assessment for research produced by academics in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences disciplines in Sri Lanka, much of which is published in Sinhala and Tamil. The h-index is in fact an example of 21st century academic linguistic imperialism operating in the guise of an institutional mechanism to assess research performance. The third and final part of this paper presents an alternative mode of research publishing which, if executed correctly, has the potential to mitigate, if not provide some solutions for the issues highlighted above.

Digital Working Papers

The concept of Working Papers is not new, with some of the world’s leading universities such as Yale University, Georgetown University and Ohio State University showcasing their research output by publishing Working Papers on their websites. The University of Essex describes Working Papers as

… preliminary scientific or technical papers. Authors often release them to share ideas about a topic or to elicit feedback before submitting to a peer-reviewed conference or academic journal. Working papers can be the basis for related works, and may in themselves be cited by peer-review papers (“Working papers: Introduction”, n.d.).

May (2018) lists several positive aspects of Working Papers. First, it is a double saving in terms of publication costs, as Universities pay for research (through awards and grants) and then purchase subscriptions from journals in which the research is published. It also gives Universities and individual academics ownership of their research instead of the copyright being signed over to a commercial publisher. Most importantly, Working Papers is an Open Access strategy which more and more academics / researchers are turning to as a more equitable means of sharing and disseminating research findings. It is however, an underutilized initiative, as noted by May, “One of the frequently suggested open access strategies, yet relatively under-developed in the Social Sciences, is for professional associations to run peer-reviewed disciplinary focused repositories” (2018, n.p.). Working papers are one such type of repository.

With these advantages in mind, and with a clear understanding of the challenges in mainstream publishing faced by Humanities and Social Sciences researchers, the Department of English of the University of Colombo proposed the launch of a Working Papers Series (WPS) as an activity to be carried out as part of a grant for Development Oriented Research (DOR) awarded to the Department under the Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Project, funded by the World Bank. Through the Working Papers project, the Department of English aims to create a space for dialogue and engagement between authors and other members of the research and academic communities. The WPS will mainly target ECRs, but will also accept submissions from more experienced researchers. Recognising the potential of digital technologies to broaden our perspectives and views on the form of a research product, it is envisaged that the WPS will disseminate research in multimodal formats – i.e., texts, images, audio files, video clips, files in GIF format, etc. This will open up a space hitherto not available in Sri Lanka (R. Perera, personal communication, October 5, 2020) for highlighting research from disciplines such as Fine Arts and Performance Studies which cannot be done justice to through traditional unimodal methods of research communication. For example, the inclusion of a script of a dramatic production, along with visuals (photographs) or video clips of the performance, or a research article on dance illustrated with recordings of music and movements of dance (R. Perera, personal communication, October 5, 2020) can be hosted on the site. Similarly, papers on linguistic research in the area of phonetics and phonology can be enhanced by the addition of sound files, spectrograms, etc. (E. Surenthiraraj, personal communication, October 5, 2020).

This paper argues therefore that the WPS is an initiative that can address many of the issues and challenges that are proving to be obstacles in individuals’ research publication journeys in Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines. It can adopt an egalitarian approach by not favouring experienced researchers over novices or ECRs, and supports open access publishing, which is fast becoming a pushback against the monopolies held by large publishing houses and high impact journals. Most importantly, it embraces the new research spaces that digital technologies have created, and proposes to make use of the advantages this holds for Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines that are and have been constrained by not having a suitable platform for the dissemination of multimodal research. In this respect, this paper calls for a re-envisioning of the research product and a greater transparency in the research process. Also, in Sri Lanka, where English is not the only language used for the dissemination of information, and is not the language in which most teaching in Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences is done, research publishing should incorporate the ideals of inclusivity and diversity by allowing for equal prominence to be given to academic outputs in Sinhala and Tamil. A digital publishing platform can accomplish this with ease. With technology moving at its current pace, the future holds many more possibilities and modalities for research publication. Repositioning and reconceptualizing will thus be necessary, on-going processes; and the directions in which future publication journeys will move will be determined by new generations of researchers such as ECRs, to whom we need to give an ear now.

[1] This is not unusual. Li (2019) observes that, in situations where English is not the first or dominant language, some supervisors may lack experience in publishing papers themselves (p. 244).

[2] University Grants Commission Circular No 916

[3] University Grants Commission Circular No 05/2018


The Digital Working Papers is part of the development oriented research of the Digital Humanities Laboratory of the Department of English and is supported by the Accelerating Higher Education Expansion and Development (AHEAD) Project of the Ministry of Higher Education funded by the World Bank. I wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that helped to improve the framing and structure of this paper, and for their critical reading which highlighted arguments that needed further clarification. Any remaining weaknesses are my own.

This paper is developed from an invited presentation made at a national conference on 21st December 2021, titled “Humanities and Social Sciences Education in Sri Lankan universities: Issues and challenges” organized by the University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka.


Bhatia, V. K. (2019). Foreword. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. v–vi). Palgrave Macmillan.

Coleman, J. A. (2014). How to get published in English: Advice from the outgoing Editor-in- Chief. System, 42, 404–411.

Corcoran, J. (2017). Book review. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 27, 71–72.

Darvin, R. (2019). Collaborative writing, academic socialization, and the negotiation of identity. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. 177– 194). Palgrave Macmillan.

Ferris, D. (2019). Guiding junior scholars into and through the publication process. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. 215–231). Palgrave Macmillan.

Grudniewicz, A., Moher, D., & Cobey, K. D. (2019). Predatory journals: No definition, no defence. Nature, 579, 210–212.

Habibie, P., & Hyland, K. (2019). Novice writers and scholarly publication. Palgrave Macmillan.

Harzing, A. W. (2010, June 1). Citation analysis across disciplines: The impact of different sources and citation metrics. Retrieved from papers/citation-analysis-across-disciplines

Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(46), 16569–16572.

Krawczyk, F., & Kulczycki, E. (2021). How is open access accused of being predatory? The impact of Beall’s lists of predatory journals on academic publishing. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(2), 102271.

Li, Y. (2019). Mentoring junior scientists for research publication. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. 233–250). Palgrave Macmillan.

Mathew, R., Patel, V., & Low, G. (2021). Predatory journals – the power of the Predator versus the integrity of the honest. Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology, 000, 1–7.

May, C. (2018, September 3-4). The political economy of social scientific publishing. [Keynote].Selling (critical) finance: Getting your work published, Lancaster University, UK. hing

Merga, M. K., & Mason, S. (2021). Mentor and peer support for early career researchers sharing research with academia and beyond. Heliyon, 7(2), e06172.

Paltridge, B. & Starfield, S. (2016). Getting published in academic journals: Navigating the publication process. University of Michigan Press.

Sanchez, T. W. (2014). Academic visibility for urban planning and the webometric future. The Journal of the World Universities Forum, 6(2), 37–52. 2030/cgp/v06i02/56825

Shvidko, E. (2019). From student to scholar: Making the leap to writing for publication. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. 155–175). Palgrave Macmillan.

Spicer, A. (2015, May 21). Explainer: What is an H-index and how is it calculated? Retrieved from 41162

Tardy, C. (2019). We are all Reviewer #2: A window into the secret world of peer review. In P. Habibie & K. Hyland (Eds.), Novice writers and scholarly publication (pp. 271–289).

Palgrave Macmillan.

Teixeira da Silva, J. A., Dobránszki, J., Tsigaris, P., & Al-Khatib, A. (2019). Predatory and exploitative behaviour in academic publishing: An assessment. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 45(6), 102071.

University Grants Commission. (2009). Schemes of recruitment/promotion for Associate Professor/Professor.

University Grants Commission. (2018). Transparent research performance scheme to recognize researchers in the university system.

Working papers: Introduction. (n.d.). Library and Cultural Services. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from


IRIS Database

(Journal of English for Academic Purposes) JEAP encourages authors to consider uploading their data collection materials to the IRIS database. IRIS is an online repository for data collection materials used for second language research. This includes data elicitation instruments such as interview and observation schedules, language tests and stimuli, pictures, questionnaires, software scripts, url links, word lists, teaching intervention activities, amongst many other types of materials used to elicit data. Please see for more information and to upload. Any questions, or the materials themselves, may be sent to When your article has been formally accepted for publication, your instrument(s) can be uploaded to the IRIS database with an ‘in press’ reference. The IRIS team will add page numbers to the reference once they are available.


Leave a Reply