General information about publication of research

Publication of research results means that the research results are published  for the benefit of science and society in general. The publication can also lead to a quality assurance process in the form of  peer reviews, referee  or another form of peer review. The freedom to publish research is an important element of the researchers’ freedom of communication and expression.

Publication of research results is mainly done as articles in scientific journals and monographs (books and dissertations), but can also be done in other ways. Publication usually takes place via academic publishers who have traditionally published scientific publications commercially. In recent years, various models for publishing with open access and creative commons have gained ground.

Both researchers and research institutions are largely measured by their publication of research (“publish or perish”), see below for research registration and bibliometrics.

Publication of research results should be made in accordance with good scientific practice and respect the copyright of third parties and comply with the Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data, etc.

If research results include elements that can be protected by patent (or get utility model protection), you should be aware that this protection requires non-disclosure of the invention until a patent application (or an application for protection as a utility model) has been filed, see rights to research.

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Forms of publication

There are different traditions for the publication of research results within the various disciplines: While the scientific article is often dominant, monographs play an important role within, say, the more “dry” disciplines.

Some major forms of publication include:

  • Doctoral thesis
  • PhD thesis
  • Research paper
  • Scientific book/anthology
  • Research report
  • Scientific reviews, comments and discussion papers
  • Working papers, preprints
  • Conference contributions (articles, posters, etc.)
  • Multimedia publications (podcasts, webcasts, etc.)
  • Other (including software, exhibitions and datasets)

Publication is often done through academic publishers who have traditionally published scientific publications commercially. In this connection, researchers should be aware of the terms of their publishing agreement. In recent years, various models for publishing with open access have gained ground.

Peer review

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Peer review is the assessment of a scientific product made by fellow scientists (peers or referees). The assessment relates to the product’s scientific quality and is mainly used to assure the quality of research publications before publishing. According to the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (page 11), researchers must carry out peer reviews and editorial work in an honest and impartial manner.

The peer review may be completely or partially anonymous: When the identity of the reviewers is not revealed, it is a so-called “blind peer review“and if the reviewers are not informed about the authors’ identity, it is a so-called “double blind peer review“.

In Denmark peer review is defined as follows (our translation) by the Bibliometric Research Indicator (BFI) Steering Committee, see note from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation of 18 December 2007:

Peer evaluation of a manuscript involves writing an assessment demonstrating its scientific quality.

In addition, peer reviews must meet the following requirements:

1. Peer review is always done before publication.

Peer review is a process which always takes place prior to publication. It is part of the publishing process. Thus a book review cannot be defined as a peer review.

2. At least one reviewer must be external to the publisher/institution.

A manuscript (be it a book or an article) should at least be reviewed by one external reviewer who is an expert in the field. There are no requirements as to whether an external reviewer is known or anonymous.

3. Reviewers must be research experts

An external reviewer must have at least research skills at PhD level. Both national and international reviewers can be used, and reviewers can be called in from any environment, provided they meet the minimum requirement.

The assessment of PhD theses meets the above-mentioned peer review requirements, cf. section 16 of the Danish PhD Order. In practice, the assessment of a doctoral thesis will normally meet these conditions, but according to the Danish Ministerial Order on Doctoral Degrees there is no formal requirement that at least one reviewer must be external to the institution, cf. section 8 of the Ministerial Order on Doctoral Degrees.

The scientific journals and publishers that use peer review have usually established further procedures.

See also

Registration of research

The Danish National Research Database (http://www.forskningsdatabasen.dk/) aims to provide central and easy access to Danish research. It is based on the systems for research registration used at the individual research institutions. Almost all Danish universities and a number of other research institutions use the system “PURE” for research registration, cf. http://www.atira.dk/da/pure.

Research registration is a prerequisite for calculating the part of the universities’ core funding which depends on the bibliometric research indicator (BFI).

The bibliometric research indicator

From 2012 25% of the universities’ basic funding is allocated according to the bibliometric research indicator (BFI), which aims to reflect the research activities of Danish universities. BFI measures the number of publications in a way that seeks to reward the most recognised publication channels within each subject, and while taking into account the different publishing traditions that exist in the various fields.

You can read more about the bibliometric research indicator at the website of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

The bibliometric research indicator has been subject to criticism and was evaluated in 2012. See Gunnar Sivertsen and Jesper Schneider, ”Evaluering av den bibliometriske forskningsindikator”, Report 17/12 from Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning (NIVU), available here.

Duty to publish?

The Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2014) has no mention of a general duty to publish research results.

Some fields are assumed to hold an obligation to publish research results, even (or especially) when they fall short of prior expectations or desires (negative findings). You can read more about this in

Double publishing and salami publishing

Double Publishing  exists where an (almost) identical manuscript is published more than once, perhaps in translation.  Undisclosed double publishing is generally considered to be contrary to good scientific practice. According to circumstances, copyright law speaks of self-plagiarism, which may be a legal issue if the author has transferred (part of) the copyright in the first work to a publisher.

Salami Publishing exists when several publications are based on the same research data.  In 2009, the DCSD recommended that at least 50% of the content in a secondary publication should be new compared to a previous (primary) publication cf. DCSD’s Guidelines on publication matters (2009), p. 39f. Instead, the Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2014), p. 11, now states that

Publishig the same results in more than one publication should only occur under particular, clearly explained and fully disclosed circumstances.

Publishers and journals may have established specific rules on these issues.

Use of other people’s material

Research is based on existing knowledge, and it is therefore quite natural that scientific publications are based on other people’s material – such as other people’s publications, conference presentations, ideas and the like.

There are rules for using other people’s material which are essential to know as a researcher. See Plagiarism, crediting and good citation practice.

See also Research collaborations about the use of research data for “own” publications and research projects.

Barriers to publishing

Confidentiality obligations

Any confidentiality obligations should be respected when publishing research results. These may arise out of legislation, for example section 19 of the Danish Marketing Practices Act on the protection of trade secrets, or a result of concluded agreements such as non-disclosure agreements entered into as part of research collaborations.

See also Scientific freedom.

Premature publication

In some cases, prior publication of research results in mass media and the like may prevent publication. See DCSD’s Guidelines on publication matters (2009), p. 41.

Patent or utility model protection

If research results include elements that can be protected by patent (or get utility model protection), you should be aware that this protection requires non-disclosure of the invention until a patent application (or an application for protection as a utility model) has been filed, see Legal protection of research results.

Danish Act on Processing of Personal Data

If the publication involves the processing of personal data the rules of the Act on Processing of Personal Data must be observed, see Research that involves personal data.