Excellence index of the Pastos y Forrajes journal: a tool for increasing its quality
Marta Hernández y Alicia Ojeda
Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes "Indio Hatuey". Central España Republicana, CP 44280, Matanzas, Cuba
The objective of this work was to evaluate the excellence index of the Pastos y Forrajes journal. For that an adaptation was made of the methodology for the determination of the excellence level of the organization of production in industrial enterprises and the evaluation criteria of the Permanent Commission of Publications of the Cuban Academy of Sciences and those of the Editorial Board of the journal were taken into consideration. The excellence index of the journal reached 75,6% in 1999 and 77,7% in 2007. According to the results it is concluded that the methodology allowed to determine the critical indicators; in addition, a program of continuous improvement was enhanced to achieve excellence.
Key words: Quality, methods
The contemporaneous society goes through a stage that has been called the "Age of Information", in which it is impossible to conceive a successful organization without work in that sense, which not only propitiates the access to adequate information, but also evaluates and analyses it for correct decision-making (Suárez, Armengol, Ojeda and Hernández, 2001).
According to Mesa, Rodríguez and Savigne (2007) evaluation is a systematic process that must be carried out based on a consistent methodology, aiming at determining the validity and reliability of the evaluated object.
In Cuba several methodologies have been used for evaluating scientific journals, among which are those of the Permanent Commission of Publications of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, the Regional System of On-line Information for Scientific Journals of Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal (Latindex) and the evaluation methodology for the results of Science and technology (EvaCyT).
Taking into account the previous considerations, the objective of this work was to evaluate the evolution of the excellence index of the Pastos y Forrajes journal as a support tool for increasing its quality.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
For determining the excellence level an adaption was made of the methodology proposed by Suárez Mella (1996) with the objective of evaluating the organization level of production in industrial enterprises.
The procedure used was the following:
1. Fourteen indicators were selected which include the main aspects in the excellence of a publication.
2. For each indicator an excellence criterion was established, based on the evaluation methodology of the Permanent Commission of Publications of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, as well as on the criteria of the Editorial Board of the journal (Hernández, Suárez and Ojeda, 2003).
3. The relative value (Vi) was determined according to the degree of importance of the indicators and a value was assigned to each indicators, which sum totalizes the unit.
4. A score was assigned to the indicators in each year analyzed. Suárez Mella (1996) proposed five levels of evaluation and the evaluating group took into consideration value ranges for each indicator, with the objective of determining the performance level of each one of them in the evaluated period.
The score for the performance levels of the variables was:
Level Score (Pi)
Very good 10
Very bad 1
5. Determination of the Excellence Index of the Journal (EIJ). A weighted measurer was used, in which the score assigned by the experts to each indicator with the specific value and the highest excellence, i.e. the highest value of the variables (10 points), were related.
The mathematical expression used for the calculation was the following:
EIJ = Excellence Index of the Journal
Vi = Relative value of the indicators
Pi = Score assigned to indicator i
k = Quantity of characteristics or measurers
The EIJ of 2007 was obtained and compared to that of 1999.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The evaluation of the journal in 1999 is shown in table 1. As can be observed, the EIJ was 75,6%, higher than the average or acceptable performance segment, which, according to the reports by Suárez and Suárez Mella (1998) is between 45 and 65%.
The limitations in this evaluation were focused on the proportion of works from other national institutions, the proportion of works from foreign institutions, the suitability of titles and the updating of references, which were qualified as regular and very bad.
In the case of works from other institutions (national and foreign), the established numbers for considering the criteria Good were not published; this was due, mainly, to the delay in the revision by the referees and the correction of the works by the authors.
The title is one of the most important parts of a scientific work, because it is the first to be read and it must indicate the content in a sufficiently explicit and precise way, which allows its indexation by the different databases (Rodríguez-Loeches, 1997; Pitty, 2004). In most of the cases the authors use more words than necessary and the order is not correct, which brings about that this indicator can not be evaluated with the highest score.
An important aspect that must be considered by the authors is that related to active cites, which shows the updated information they have on a certain topic and which is not generally considered in most articles.
When making a comparative analysis of the situation of the excellence index of the journal in 2007 (table 2), it was observed that there are still difficulties in these indicators; nevertheless, a higher EIJ was obtained (77,7%), which shows that the quality of the journal has improved, due to a group of measures taken regarding this.
It must be pointed out that the exchange of the journal in Cuba was remarkably reduced due to some changes in the economic mechanisms, which should be solved in a short period of time.
Although the indexes in both years were higher than the ones found for a livestock production scientific center by Suárez, Suárez Mella and Hernández (2003), it can not be stated that the activity of the journal is of excellence, because for that all the indicators must move to the highest evaluation category.
In this sense, the periodical evaluation of publications is important. Thus in Venezuela the Merit-FONACIT evaluation is applied, which allows to know more thoroughly the weaknesses and strengths of the publications, and contributes to the improvement and increase of their quality, presentation and visibility, not only in the national context, but also at international level (Rodríguez, 2007).
Considering that scientific journals are the essential instrument for impelling the social diffusion of the scientific and technological knowledge (Albornoz, 2005), and that according to Villarroel and Cautín (2004) the objectives of their evaluation are to improve their quality and measure the social impact of the new knowledge generated, the management staff of the Pastos y Forrajes journal determined to enhance, through a Program of Continuous Improvement, the critical variables that are still present and limit its excellence.
According to the results it is concluded that the methodology allowed to determine the most critical indicators and compare the advance made.