Academic Nationalism and The Canadian Center of Science & Education

This post is about the SSCI and other indexes of academic excellence published by Thompson International. If you are unfamiliar with these, see my earlier posts and discussions.

The SSCI is the backbone of important university rankings, such as the Times Higher top international universities listings and especially the Shanghai Jiao Tong, developed for the Chinese government to benchmark its own universities. Publishing in th journals listed on the SSCI is also a very powerful step in the promotion process in the universities of Taiwan and other Asian nations. In personal conversations with me, Dr. Clyde Warden has referred to these journals as “guided missiles” and stated that “…they are almost impossible to stop and never miss their mark”.

One of the most significant characteristics of the SSCI is its domination by English-language journals published in the USA and other English-speaking nations. Almost all journals listed on the SSCI and its sister lists are published in English and are based primarily in the USA, but there are also a few other Anglo-European nations. There are a number of Asian-based journals listed on the SSCI, as you can see from this list posted by Thompson International who compiles the SSCI. But very few of them originate in Asian states in which in which English is not spoken as an official language.

Only a handful are published in Taiwan, and most of these deal with physical science disciplines. Apparently there is great interest in establishing more SSCI journals in Taiwan. Asia University is talking about establishing a journal which I was told will be “the next SSCI journal in Taiwan”. It is extremely difficult even for journals listed on the Taiwan Social Science Citation Index (TSSCI), regarded as the highest caliber journals in Taiwan, to make it onto the SSCI. The idea that a private university with limited funding and academic reputation could do this is completely unreasonable.

So what’s so hard about establishing an SSCI? Thompson used to post the criteria it uses to select journals for the SSCI. The link I used in this post is now dead and I can no longer find the information anywhere on their website. Regardless, the characteristics Thompson is looking for that make it so difficult to get listed and bias English-language journals have to do with circulation of the journal. SSCI listing demands that a journal have participation from scientists all over the world. It is also necessary that the journal publish on time. To do this, a journal must have a backlog of submissions. In other words, the journal must generate a large amount of interest all over the world. It is doubtful that a journal published in Japanese or Korean could do this. Such criteria also make it difficult to start a journal from humble origins with the hope that it one day would be listed on the SSCI.

This brings us to The Canadian Center of Science and Education. The Center, according to its website is

        …an independent non-government and non-profit organization delivering supports and services to education and research in Canada and the world. Canadian Center of Science and Education established in 2006, [the Center] is the result of contributions from the Canadian federal government, province governments, enterprises as well as NGOs.

The Center publishes a large number of journals – 18 in all. These journals cover a range of disciples and are all very scholarly in their direction. Some of these have been in operation for a long time. Asian Social Science was first released in 2005. Others, like English Language Teaching, just started this year (2009). In addition, The Center offers financial support for graduate students as well as other forms of academic support.  

Students from any countries who plan to undertake studies at the doctoral level in areas directly related to educational research are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Scholarships of 25,000 Canadian Dollars per year for up to four years are offered for doctoral students.

Just where is all this money coming from? The answer is not entirely clear. There is no indication on their website who funds this organization, and despite their Canadian location and the statement above, I can’t believe it’s coming from the Canadian government. The editorial boards of their various journals seem non-partisan. For example, Asian Culture and History, which began publication this year (2009), has 5 editors listed as its board. While there is an understandable Asian bias in the list, there appears to be little overt national bias; their nationalities include Indian, Canadian, Malaysian, Chinese (PRC), and one from Hong Kong. This includes Jenny Zhang whose affiliation is listed as The Canadian Center of Science and Education

But that’s not where the real meat of The Center lies. Take a look inside the single issue of the journal that’s on-line. Who’s publishing in it? The index of the journal lists 10 articles. Of these, 8 of them are written by authours affiliated with a PRC university. The other 2 are from Malaysia. February 2008 Computer and Information Science lists 15 articles in its index, less than half are from China. By the 4th issue in November, almost all the articles are originating in China. And we’re not talking about Beijing University or Shanghai Jiao Tong. All of these articles originate in places like Zhejiang University of Science and Technology or Tianjin Polytechnic University.

Now just because they’re mid-ranked universities in a Third World Country doesn’t mean all of their professors are inadequate researchers, but it does look strange. We have 18 journals publishing hundreds of articles and almost all of them originate in virtually unknown Chinese universities. The journal itself is registered in Canada and only a few of their referees are Chinese or affiliated with a Chinese university. Without more information, I’d say this looks like an attempt to give international legitimation to a journal designed for the expressed purpose of publishing research that originates in Chinaperhaps even generate enough interest that one day it can be listed on the SSCI.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could be wrong, since I have almost no information about this organization. Anyone with any ideas about this, please let me know.

 

 

Comments

A journal for a scholarly association I am affiliated with is very concerned with its rejection rate. While it rejects over 80% of submissions, that seems to not be high enough for many scholars in N. America where instead of looking at SSCI, they look instead at rejection rates. I think over 95% is considered optimal. The trick for the journal is to get to this mark without reducing the number of articles published in a year. I know of several Taiwan journals, on the other hand, that seem to publish everything submitted by associates of that journal’s editorial board.

Thanks for this fascinating entry Scott, and your great weblog more generally. I’ve linked to this entry…by pure coincidence Thomson Reuters contributed a guest entry today in GlobalHigherEd on related issues:

Regional content expansion in Web of Science®: opening borders to exploration
http://globalhighered

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5 Responses to “Academic Nationalism and The Canadian Center of Science & Education”

  1. David Lacey Says:

    For your information, I was sent an email by Barbara Sun, the editor of Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology published by ccsenet.org asking me to submit an article. It was written by somebody who obviously had English as a second language. On further investigation I found that there is a $300 publication fee. Feels like a vanity publication to me.
    Regards
    David Lacey

  2. Matt Says:

    I was looking for info on The Canadian Center of Science and Education and found this blog entry. They invited me to submit a manuscript to the Journal of Matehmatics Research after mentioning they had read one of my recent articles (which I highly doubt). The email was a nicely written email despite Matehmatics being spelled wrong and stated their journals were open access. Now that I’m tenured and promoted I’ve been interested in publishing in good journals which are open access (yes their are some) as I think the whole model for publishing academic articles is insane. That is, researchers do all the work, do all the typesetting, do all the proofreading, and the publishers do nothing but get referees reports (referees are not paid in general) and make tons of money off the research. The journal editors who gather the referee’s reports typically aren’t paid either (or are paid a ridiculously small sum for their work). Anyway, I’m getting off subject.

    What I noticed was the CCSE asks for 300 dollars (not sure if that is US or Canadian) for papers to be printed. Sure this is a bargain compared to what one is asked to pay Springer or Taylor and Francis or some other big name publisher to make your work open access (several thousands if I recall). But, I can’t help but think this journal is either for vanity publishing or perhaps allows the Chinese a place to publish their work. I would steer clear of it if I was you.

  3. Prof. Tom K. Says:

    CCSE is a commercial publisher. It does not receive grant from the government. I think people should be catholic on new journals. the 5-year journals are very young, need time to be reputable.

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