Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Writing articles or "How easy it is to become a doctor of science II"

Lets assume that you finally decided to try yourself in the PhD race. We already have stated in the previous post, that the corner stone her is writing articles.

It is fact, that after you have published 5 articles or more you can start to use to think that you are PhD. Notice that under "published" in the previous sentence we mean that articles were actually accepted at conferences, not just written by you.

So, we count only articles that were made available vi conference proceedings or journals.

Journals publications of course "cost" more (i.e. are more valuables) than proceedings, but it is much harder to "push" your work into those (i.e. write so that journals will accept it). That is why doctor students should basically forget about it and concentrate attempts on conferences (of course it doesn't mean that you should not write some articles to journals as well, but you should not rely on those).

There are different levels of scientific conferences, but for any serious one a book of articles will be printed, which is called a “proceeding”. Level of a conference is normally measured on the high level by publisher or an indexer (i.e. in which scientific database a link to conference articles will appear). Indexer is either stated directly in the conference description (or "call for papers"), or can be identified by a publisher of the proceeding. For example Springer Verlag and IEEE (for example IEEE Computer society) are most respectful. The worst choice is a conference publishing a local proceeding (for example by the university organising the conference), but still check the indexing policy as even the local one can be well-indexed. Talking about indexer, the scientific activity in Estonia is normally measured by links on your articles appearing in ISI (Web of science). So, if you have got a paper into that index - well done! There are some other indexes that can be acceptable for doctorate students: for example EBSCO or DPLB. Actually it is also not the lowest level for PhD students - in this case local proceedings will also be accepted!
There is also a certain category of conferences proceedings of which can or cannot be indexed especially if the conference doesn't have a good record of previous conferences - so the proceeding will be posted to indexer, but organisers don't know for sure in advance the indexer decision (they can consider the proceeding as too weak [so not interested] to be included into the index). There are also organisers that host series of conferences - circa 10-14 per year in different places all over the world. For example in a decreasing order of my priority list: IASTED, WSEAS, IADIS.

If you have written an article and it was accepted then you can nearly killed this a big and valuable animal or at least frighted it a lot :-) I'd like to say that there are some more activities you should do like а) always: pay the fee as an author (only then the paper will be published) b) normally: present the paper at the conference otherwise it will not be published, although in reality proceeding is published much earlier than you appear on the conference. So you need somebody to finance those activities (publishing fee, travelling). It is obvious that you will not like to finance by yourself, therefore university is the standard place to ask money from. For example in TTU we have а) doktorikool (school for doctorate students) and b) EITSA ( a non-profit organisation founded by the Estonian Republic, Tartu University, Tallinn Technical University, Eesti Telekom and the Association of Estonian Information Technology and Telecommunications Companies to support IT evolution of the country).

Finally I would like to mention virtual conferences (for example CISSE). Participation in those doesn't require to move your person from one place to another in the real dimension - just Internet connection and much less your time than usually as you can participate if you find a talk interesting or go and do some other work.

I would also like to warn you against conferences accepting abstracts (a very short article up to 1 page) instead of the full one. That is happens very often if we talk for example about German hosted conferences. Then normally promise to publish best papers in a proceeding. Be careful. Only full size articles will be counted. Abstracts will not be. Don't expect that your paper is so genuine that you will be in that chosen list of papers. If you really do think - try to submit it to a good journal (for example published by Springer, Elseveir) or to a high level conference. Normally such trick is made to increase a number of participants, so I think they just look for fools

PS: a list of conferences can be found from different Internet pages (for example). Another approach - check where participate those, whom you respect, your professors, other teachers of your faculty. For example here is a list of conferences I am interested in (or some my colleagues).

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