Worst practices for peer reviewers

worst practiceThe post Best practice for peer reviewers was so successful and the discussions about it was so interesting that I used your comments and experiences to write this amusing new list on worst practices for pirate-reviewers:

  1. Check through the references and the topic style to try to identify the authors, and then search the web for similar papers published by them; if you don’t like them give them a hard time, but if it’s a mate, just accept it (and tell them!).
  2. Be intransigent and perfectionist with your evaluation, show them what a successful and dedicated scholar you are criticizing everything, from data to methodology and contribution.
  3. Reject any manuscript that is similar to anything you are currently working on.
  4. Always remember your personal bias. Anyone challenging your ideas or methodology needs to be rejected immediately or if only they do it slightly, add a comment to make them change their view.
  5. To please the editor, advise the authors to include enough references within it to previous editions of the journal.
  6. Suggest the authors to include your own papers in the literature review and references , at least two or three.
  7. Disagree with the style and grammar. Suggest it is sent to a professional editor for improvement (your friend will do it at a reasonable rate).
  8. And finally, if the editor requests you some suggestions of peer reviewers for your paper, take full advantage of this opportunity and think of your scholar network, preferable those friends outside your country and University.

With this kind of peer reviewers that we are made of, what sense does it make to base the journals quality on this system? But, are there any alternative models?

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Journal owners, you make the publishin’ world go round

biz ownersTo understand a journal and have an opportunity to be published, besides knowing it well (its editors, the editorial line, what kind of articles it publishes or if it charges fees to authors), I find also very important to know its objectives as an institution, or in other words, who owns it, and there aren’t much written about it.

So I have classified journal owners according to their ultimate goals as a company / organization:

1. Businesses with primarily financial targets:

  • Publishing companies. They usually produce several journals, and their editors / managers are professionals who are in charge of a small group of them, though they use content and peer-reviewers for free (well, the standard in the industry). Therefore they are generally well-managed and agile in their processes, they understand this as a business. Its revenues come mainly from subscriptions and some of them charge also a fee to authors.
  • Other companies (consultancies, research centers, etc.), focused on a specific field of knowledge. Similar to the above type in terms of management, but the number of journals published are generally much lower. Revenue via subscription and fees to authors.

2. Owners with academic and informative main goals:

  • Faculty departments. They could have the temptation to give some publishing priority to the professors of their associated / partner departments. They tend to be financed via university funds and subscriptions. The editors / managers are academics, therefore busy people, for them this is not a priority, so you better have a very good paper perfectly tailored to the journal to be noticed.
  • Professional associations. In principle they are objectives and open to any kind of contribution, though usually advised by academics from a faculty department, which leads us to the former type of owner. The funds usually come from the association itself.
  • Independent professors. My favourites. Idealists. Always in search for funds and content.

And all of them with the common goal of increasing readers, content and citations. So they desperately need to be indexed in databases, which at the same requires more funds for its management, and so on…

In any case, how much does ownership influence on the quality and prestige of journals?

Best practices for peer reviewers

Best practices for peer reviewers

What is the matter with some reviewers? I understand that it is an uncomfortable job as it is not remunerated, it takes time to do it well and we are such a perfect scholars… So I think some guidelines are needed , it is our game:

  1. Integrity. Do a good review, spend time and care on it.
  2. Know your journal. Read the notes for authors, familiarize with the articles it publishes, look for its citation indexes, all these will help you to set the standards for the review.
  3. Align with the editor to set the quality criteria of your reviews. Editors usually need content for their journals, if you are too strict maybe you are not valid to them.
  4. There are many more options than accepted / rejected. You can leave it open for the author to improve it, without throwing it back completely. Leave the decision to the editor, there are still another reviewer. Sometimes the material is good but you have to help authors to adapt the paper to the journal’s editorial line.
  5. Be constructive with your comments. Think a bit of the author, who has devoted time and has tried to contribute to knowledge, it could be yours in the future. Use the journal form for reviews, it will make you easier the task of revision.
  6. Accept the articles which you feel able to review, though you should accept some papers a bit beyond your area of ​​expertise and knowledge. Editors usually have trouble finding reviewers, if you only circunscribes to your specific field, neither you are you going to learn nor you are going to make the life easier to the editor.
  7. Confidenciality of information. Do not consult nor send to anyone the paper you are reviewing, especially to a professional who does not know anything about peer review or research. If it’s something you do not know, you can ask or investigate, but YOU have been requested to do it, stop thinking much about it, contribute as far as you can and full stop.
  8. Time management. If editors see that you are a good and efficient reviewer, you will be used a lot. So reviewing 1 or 2 articles every two months is fine, it keeps you fit: you read about your research field, you learn about paper structuring, you gain knowledge of journals’ procedures and you build relationships with editors for the future.
  9. Conflict of interest. If you’re not comfortable with the review task, either you think you know the author or it is a subject far beyond your knowledge, you have several options: withdraw as a reviewer, have deft touch or work harder on the review; it will depend on your level of compromise with the journal.
  10. Be agile. There is no reason to take 4 to 6 weeks to review a paper, do it within the next week. Spend a couple of hours at most (one to read and take notes, and another to do the review, with time in between to let your little brain to assimilate it).

In conclusion: easy, peer! Take it as a learning experience, a way to build yor network and an obligation to stay updated in your reserach field. If you are not a reviewer, sorry for your academic and publishing career!

Journals that ask for money. Is it so dishonest?

taxidriverWell…, let’s shake this publishing martini a little bit.

Let’s see the publishing industry as if authors/professors were the clients: we scholars/clients place our papers in journals to be recognized, to improve our CVs and to have our research disseminated.

Would you like to send a paper to a journal and have a response by the Editor within a couple of weeks?
Would you like to have your peer reviews 3 or 4 weeks later? (Is it too demanding?)
What about having an estimate of the publication date if you answer your review comments within a determined period of time?
What else would you ask for?
Wouldn’t you pay for all this? … No? … Come off it!

But, do you know any journal with a service like that?

  • I do, or at least a couple of them which comply with most of the above: journals (indexed in acceptable and recognized databases) where you pay.
  • The rest strive with their success (or themselves), their processes and reviewers. For example, I sent in a paper to low quartile JCR journal (WoK) that is still in the process a year after!

We all know that the client is the reader, or shouldn’t they be? Subscriptions are decreasing… and internet uprising…

  • Is the reader of scientific journals someone who reads every issue of them? Or is the real reader an academic who looks just for the articles of their interest? In any journal available?
  • How many journals university libraries (or we) have to subscribe to?

Another issue is the academic questions and quality this new system may arise: you pay-you publish? Which are usually resolved via citation indexing.

What do you think about paying for a (publishing) service? Or the problem is what others think of you doing it? Have you asked them?

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