Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Choosing a journal

For almost every manuscript I've been involved with, my co-authors and I have had to have a discussion about where (to which journal) we should submit it. Typically, this is a somewhat fuzzy discussion about the the fit between the topic of our manuscript and various journals, the impact factor of those journals (even though I'm not fond of impact factors), their editorial boards (I find that the review process is much more constructive and effective when the editor is knowledgeable about the topic and sends the manuscript to knowledgeable reviewers), manuscript guidelines such as word limits, and turn-around times (which can vary from a few weeks to several months). 

I've just learned about a very cool online tool, called JANE (Journal/Author Name Estimator), that provides recommendations. The recommendations are based on similarity between your title or abstract and articles published in various journals (their algorithm is described in a paper). This similarity score comprises the confidence of the recommendation and the journal recommendations come with an Article Influence score, which is a measure of how often articles in the journal get cited (from I tried it out using the titles and abstracts of some recent (but not yet published) manuscripts and I thought it provided very appropriate recommendations. Not surprisingly, the recommendations were a little better when I provided the abstract instead of the title, but I was impressed with how well it did just based on the title (maybe this means that I write informative titles?). JANE can also be used to find authors who have published on your topic, which could be useful for suggesting reviewers and generally knowing who is working in your area, but I found this search type to be noisier, probably simply due to sample size -- a typical author has many fewer publications than a typical journal. JANE won't answer all your journal and manuscript questions, but I am looking forward to using JANE next time I find myself debating where to submit a manuscript.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A function for comparing groups on a set of variables

I'm often in the position of needing to compare groups of either items or participants on some set of variables. For example, I might want to compare recognition of words that differ on some measure of lexical neighborhood density but are matched on word length, frequency, etc. Similarly, I might want to compare individuals with aphasia that have anterior vs. posterior lesions but are matched on lesion size, aphasia severity, age, etc. I'll also need to report these comparisons in a neat table if/when I write up the results of the study.  This means computing and collating a bunch of means, standard deviations, and t-tests. This is not particularly difficult, but it is somewhat laborious (and boring), so I decided to write a function that would do it for me. Details after the jump.