Digital Object Identifier – What is that?

This forum is part of the MISTA conference series web site.

There are a few principles that underpin the scientific literature. One is the fact that publications have undergone some sort of peer review. That is, experts in the area have reviewed the paper and have agreed that it advances knowledge, makes a contribution, the results are reproducible and that what is being reported in the paper is correct. Of course, mistakes happen but it is the system that has operated for hundreds of years.

Another important aspect is that anybody should be able to access a given publication. Whether it is the seminal Vehicle Routing paper from 1959 (Dantzig, G.B; Ramser, J.H. (1959). The Truck Dispatching Problem. Management Science 6 (1): 80–91), or a paper from the latest issue of the the Journal of Scheduling (at the time of writing this was Volume 15, Issue 5, 2012).

A further principle is that when you read a paper you have to be certain that you are reading the same paper that was originally penned by the author, and not a version that has been amended in any way. This means that there should really just be a single repository, rather than allowing people to hold their own copies, which cannot be verified as being the same as the original. This is almost impossible to do these days.

Before the days of the internet, it may not have been that easy to get access to a specific publication, but if you really wanted a paper you could go to a library and access the relevant journal. So, although it may not have been that easy to physically access the material, it was still in the scientific literature if you needed it, and available from somewhere. As journals (and conference proceedings; but let’s focus on journals) were all printed as hard-copy it was easy to verify that you were looking at the original by making sure you had access to the original publication.

The internet has changed all this. Publications can now be stored in multiple places which can make it difficult to verify that you are reading the same version of the paper that another author has cited.

Enter DOIs (Digital Object Identifier), which are managed by Crossref. To quote from their web site:

CrossRef is an independent membership association, founded and directed by publishers. CrossRef’s mandate is to connect users to primary research content, by enabling publishers to work collectively. CrossRef is also the official DOI® link registration agency for scholarly and professional publications. Our citation-linking network today covers tens of millions of articles and other content items from thousands of scholarly and professional publishers.

Crossref enables publishers to register, and then any paper they publish is given a unique identifier (i.e. a DOI). By using the DOI anybody is able to access the primary source of the paper.  If the publisher moves the location of the paper they only need to access their Crossref membership pages and change the URL. This means that anybody using the DOI will automatically be referred to the new (correct) place.

If you know the DOI of a paper, you can access it by using “http://dx.doi.org/” and then adding the DOI. For example, trying looking at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10951-011-0238-9. This will take you to one of the papers from the latest issue of the Journal of Scheduling.

DOIs have become very common in recent years. Most (if not all) of the major publishers now use DOIs to identify their articles.

The MISTA conference series is currently looking considering registering with Crossref. Now that we have published over 500 papers, and we have a new, stable, web site, with all papers being freely accessible, it seems like a good time to enter the 21st century! We’ll let you know if/when we have registered.

Finally, if you are interested in accessing the original Vehicle Routing paper, its do is 10.1287/mnsc.6.1.80, which means that you can directly access the paper via the link http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.6.1.80

 

 

Can industrialists publish scientific papers?

This forum is part of the MISTA conference series web site.

If you look at the scientific literature you might think that most of the work that is reported is theoretical in nature. It depends, of course, how you define theoretical but you would probably be right. And the scientific community makes no apologies for this as, by its nature, it is what they do.

However, there is a need for practitioners to report their results and experiences in the scientific literature so that the community is aware of real world applications and what is happening outside of the theoretical world that many academics occupy.

Indeed, some scientific journals welcome articles that essentially describe case studies so that we can all learn from these experiences. Some of the journals that spring to mind are the Journal of the Operational Research Society, Interfaces and the Journal of Scheduling (if you know of others, please feel free to post them as a reply to this post)

The benefits of publishing in the scientific literature include the following:

  1. It gets your message out there, so that others might benefit from it.
  2. It places a marker in the sand, that indicates that you reported this work before anybody else (in a scientific sense).
  3. You might be able to use the scientific paper in your marketing material to show that the approaches you are using have been validated by the scientific community.
  4. It might enable engagement with the scientific community which might improve your systems even more.
  5. It might prompt interest from the media who regularly look at what is being published in the hope of getting a story.

The barriers to industrialists publishing in the scientific literature include:

  1. You may not know what the scientific literature is, let alone how to access it.
  2. You simply don’t have enough time, or maybe even the motivation, to write a scientific paper.
  3. Even if you are able to read at a scientific paper, it might not be obvious how to go about writing one.
  4. If you have an idea for a paper, how do you go about getting it published, after you have written it?
  5. Of the thousands of journals out there, how do you choose which one to target?
  6. If you submit a paper to a journal what do you do if you get critical reviewer comments or, even worse, the paper is rejected?

So, how can the industrial community write scientific papers, and be better represented in the scientific literature?

Here are just a few ways that might work for you:

  1. Respond to this post if you are interested in accessing the scientific literature. There might be people reading this forum who would be willing to work with you to help get your work published.
  2. Google (other search engines are available) your idea and see if anything comes up which is associated with a university. Then try contacting the academic who seems to be involved in that project.
  3. Take a look at Google Scholar (as opposed to just Google). This just searches scientific papers and you might find an academic who has expertise in your area of interest.
  4. Most universities have a Business Engagement department. Try contacting them.
  5. The MISTA conference series is interested in seeing more papers and presentations that describe real world problems, and solutions to those problems. If you are interested in discussing such a paper, please feel free to contact one to the conference chairs. The worst they can say is that the suggestion is not suitable for MISTA.

Writing a scientific paper for the first time can be daunting (in fact it is!) but it could be just what your company needs to promote itself to a wider community that you probably don’t have access to otherwise. And, if you need help and advice, then there are plenty of people around who would be more than happy to assist.

Respond to this forum post and see if it leads to anything.