How scientific venues work? How can you define a good conference/ journal? I do not pretend to summarize all the possible answers in an article of a couple of pages. In particular in I will limit myself to a few heuristics that may give you a rule of the tumble addressing them. Clearly this approach may introduce biases in your judgement and you should be well aware of that.

Before continuing the conversation we need to define a few concepts:

  • Impact Factor: the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in particular journal/conference.(Wikipedia Link).
  • Peer Review: an evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competences as the producers of the work (Wikipedia Link)
  • White/Yellow/Blue Paper: an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue (Wikipedia Link). Usually it is not peer reviewed.
How Scientific Venues Work

We will use them for expressing our heuristic. The take home message of them is that the Impact Factor measure how much a particular venue is mentioned by others. White papers are documents that are not subject to a peer reviewed. i.e. are articles that have not been “approved” by other experts in the field. In the coming sections we will consider peer review venue and white paper separately.

Peer Reviewed Venues

Let’s now have a look at the following heuristics and see if they can give some insight on how scientific venues work:

  • (i) Does the journal have an impact factor? The more the scientific community cites articles in the journal the higher is the impact factor of the journal consequently it may be a good venue.
  • (ii) Does the journal have an high self-citation ratio? The higher is the percentage of citation within the journal the more the journal report finding of a very close community and may consider not relevant for others.
  • (c) Is the journal indexed? Services like SCI or SCIE keep track of a selected list of journals, normally the journal must apply for been part of this indexes and may be an indication of better quality.
Heuristics for assessing the quality of #peerreview #scientific #venue Click To Tweet

White/Yellow/Blue Papers

Let’s try to understand if a white paper is a good article and devise a few heuristics as well (usual remarks apply). Obviously these remarks are just from the point of view of “how scientific venues work”. So, I am not imply that a document has poor value in general just because does not fit these criteria.

White papers are “opinions” that a particular (interested and\or expert) party decided to make public and they are not subject to peer review. Companies may make these documents to educate their readers to the features of their products or services; if this is the case probably is not a good scientific article.

Other companies may profit of their privilege positions for sharing a bird’s eye view on certain aspects. For example, an auditing company may survey its customers in order to understand their business sentiments or their perceived value of a particular technology. Some surveys may be considered authoritative; however, you always have to critically consider the source of the paper very carefully.  Imagine a company from the tobacco sector that decides to public a white paper about the opinions that medical doctors have regarding the effect of tobacco. What do you think that doctors will say in that survey?

Is a #whitepaper / Yellow / Blue paper a good quality #scientific #Reference ? Click To Tweet

Hope that this will help you in understanding the quality of the articles that you are reading and how scientific venues work in general. Again they are just heuristic so, do not expect them to be perfect and exceptions are possible. In case you find other heuristic that are useful for you, drop me a line. I will be happy to know more.

You should consider the quality of a journal as one of the many heuristics that you want to apply to a paper in order to assess if is the case of reading a particular paper. Note that they are subjective and every researcher will develop his over time. If you are curious these are my personal heuristics.

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