The Problem with Research Journals
The Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing responds to an AACSB Insight post lamenting journals that discourage focus on practice and impact
Author: Rita Kottasz and Bulcsu Diossi
A Response to AACSB’s Article
“The Problem with Research Journals”
AACSB’s recently published article, “The Problem with Research Journals” (Akmal et al., 2022) highlights a key trend in academic business publishing: journals discouraging contributors from “focusing on practice and impact”. The Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing (JPM) – as a journal centred around research which impacts practice – has had in place for some time schemes and submission types which actively facilitate solving “global challenges” and improving practice, and its recently launched Academic-Practice Partnerships are a further step taken to ensure the furtherment of these aims. This response outlines several ways in which JPM addresses the issues highlighted by Akmal et al. (2022) and how JPM is striving to achieve the same aims outlined by the authors. JPM provides working examples of how an academic business publication can address the problems underlined by AACSB.
JPM, being a journal that focuses on philanthropy and marketing, inherently publishes articles in a field which is actively involved in the solution of “global problems” and which has practice at its heart. The following ways which JPM furthers this end are outlined here: (1) Practice Papers written, reviewed and edited by practitioners working within the field of philanthropy (2) the sharing of research within the domain of philanthropy via JPM’s dedicated social media pages and via practice magazines so practitioners get access to ‘hot off the press’ research findings, solutions to third sector related problems for free and in a digestible format (3) The JPM Shadow Practitioner Editorial Board vet and ensure that special issues are linked to themes which are relevant and needed in third sector related practice (4) The increased use of open access articles, and (5) The recently launched Academic-Practice Partnerships Scheme.
(1) Practice Papers provide a solution to several of the problems highlighted by the article. By calling for shorter papers with a 2000–4000-word limit directly relevant to practitioners and opinion leaders, JPM ensures that papers are accessible to an audience able to make impactful decisions based on pieces; avoids the unwieldy length of articles criticised by AACSB; and keeps research relevant to practice. Further, the recommendation that various types of submission are promoted is fulfilled by calls for Opinion Pieces, Book Reviews and Research Articles as well as Practice Papers. The Preliminary Communication submission type recently launched under the Academic-Practice Partnerships also focus on concise, practice-centred submissions.
(2) Sharing of findings via social media, as well as in practice magazines ensures the dissemination of information to the widest possible “general audience” (as recommended by AACSB) and further guarantees the impactfulness of JPM research, especially within the field of philanthropy and third sector related practice.
(3) The Shadow Practitioner Editorial Board, consisting solely of practitioners of philanthropy and marketing, directly avoids the negative impact that excluding practitioners from editorial boards can entail. On top of existing schemes, this Editorial Board provides further assurance that research in JPM is directly impactful with regards to the practice of the marketing of philanthropy. The recent elevation of two prominent practitioners in the field to Associate Editor level further ensures the integration of practice and impact into the content produced by JPM authors.
(4) As well as disseminating key findings through other means, JPM has been increasing its number of open access articles (with 43% of articles published in 2022 being open access) especially using transformational agreements with institutions which facilitate this process. This avoids the issue of high subscription costs restricting access to academics and broadens the possibility for impact in practice.
(5) JPM’s recently introduced Academic-Practice Partnerships (APPs) are the biggest recent step taken to contribute meaningful research which helps solve global challenges. The scheme partners academics with philanthropic organisations (including the option for commercial organisations such as market research agencies to collaborate) to make the best use of the data which philanthropic organisations hold, in a mutually beneficial research partnership which directly solves third sector related issues by ensuring that the aims of the research are directed by philanthropic organisations first and foremost. By promoting and facilitating such research, JPM is taking an innovative step forward in ensuring academic business publishing is insightful. providing a pioneering model which other publications could follow. The preliminary communications published at the start of an APP allow stakeholders to set clearly defined research aims and desired outcomes to improve the impact of the research on practice. This is an expanding scheme which JPM is actively working on improving further to provide the most impactful research. Going forward, the APP scheme will be integrated into all future special issues managed and organised by the newly appointed regional associate editors based in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
Through these five key features of JPM, including the pioneering Academic-Practice Partnerships, JPM comprehensively addresses the fundamental issue highlighted by AACSB. Certain specific issues, such as length of review time, are ones which JPM itself has recognised and is working to improve. Although decision times for articles have improved since pre-2020 levels, JPM is still working actively to decrease overall review duration in order to provide more impact in practice. The specific recommendation in the article that journals provide a more standardised framework for communicating findings have also been actively taken on board, although already existing submission types and dissemination methods of JPM are themselves useful in providing relevant analysis of findings to a wide audience, especially of practitioners.
Thus, JPM welcomes AACSB’s article outlining issues in research journals, and is confident that it either has in place long-standing policies which avoid/ mitigate these issues or has recently introduced improvements which also aim to solve these issues. AACSB’s recommendations regarding the model of science and healthcare publications are invaluable, and while JPM has already been looking into issues regarding review times, it recognises the improvements which could still be made. This response is published with a hope that it provides insights into practical ways for academic journals to address the issues demonstrated by AACSB and demonstrates JPM’s practice focussed research.
Perhaps the “process to reorient business journals in this manner” is more straightforward than AACSB fears.
Akmal, A., Gauld, R., and Podgorodnichenko, N. (2022). The Problem with Research Journals, AACSB International (AACSB), May 30, available at https://www.aacsb.edu/insights/articles/2022/05/the-problem-with-research-journals [Accessed 22 09 2022.]
Dr Rita Kottasz is the Editor-in Chief of the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing (Wiley): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/26911361
Mr Bulcsu Diossi is reading PPE at Oxford University