42 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 19, 2016
In many countries research evaluations confer high importance to mainstream journals, which are considered to publish excellent research. Accordingly, research evaluation policies discourage publications in non-mainstream journals under the assumption that they publish low quality research. This approach has prompted a policy debate in low and middle income countries with financial and linguistic barriers to access mainstream journals. A common criticism of the current evaluation practices is that they can hinder the development of certain topics that are not published in mainstream journals – although some of them might be of high local relevance. In this article we examine this issue by exploring the role of non-mainstream journals in scientific communication. We asked researchers from agricultural sciences, business and management, and chemistry in Colombia about their reasons to publish in non-mainstream journals. We found that researchers publish in non-mainstream journals because they: 1) offer a space for initiation into publishing (training); 2) provide a link between articles in mainstream journals and articles read by communities with limited access to them (knowledge-bridging); 3) publish topics that are not well covered by mainstream journals (knowledge gap-filling). Therefore, publication of ‘low scientific quality’ articles does not sufficiently explain the role of non-mainstream journals. The results suggest that research evaluation policy in low and middle income countries should consider assigning greater value to non-mainstream journals given their role in disseminating potentially useful knowledge, in particular regarding local or regional issues.
Keywords: research evaluation; science communication system; universalism; mainstream journals; non-mainstream journals; publication patterns
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Chavarro, Diego Andrés and Tang, Puay and Rafols, Ismael, Why Researchers Publish in Non-Mainstream Journals: Training, Knowledge Bridging, and Gap Filling (December 19, 2016). SWPS 2016-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2887274