Q&A. The peer-review process from inside a journal

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues

Paulo Cesar Chagas Rodrigues, Bachelor in Management, Master in Production Engineering and pursuing PhD in Mechanical Engineering. From 2008 to 2012 was a member of the organizing committee of the National Production Engineering (ENEGEP). From 2008 to 2010 was a member of the organization committee the International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (ICIEOM) and National Meeting of Coordinators of Production Engineering (ENCEP). From 2008 to 2011 published five book chapters in Hamburg International Conference of Logistics (HICL). From 1989 to 2004 he worked as an analyst for computer support, providing services to companies such as HP, Compaq and IBM. From 2008 to 2011 was a professor of Business Administration courses and Sugarcane Production Technologist at Sacred Universidade do Sagrado Coração (USC) in Bauru, SP, Brazil. Since 2011 he has been exclusively dedicated to teaching in technical courses in Agribusiness and Events, at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of São Paulo (IFSP). In 2010 he started the project of the scientific journal Independent Journal of Production & Management, which seeks to dedicate his free moments for the management and dissemination of the Journal.

The IJM&P is a journal for unpublished works related to Administration and Engineering of Production and Mechanics and Economics as well as works that present results of studies and researches about the activities of Science and Technology Information. The Journal is published on a semester-by-semester basis in June and December and is Indexed in several databases.

Gaudeamus: Peer review is a standard requirement for a journal. Do you foresee any changes in the future about this quality system?

Paulo Cesar Chagas: Yes. It is a standard to have a journal peer review. We do not intend to change this pattern, it is a way to try to get an unbiased review about the work we are subjected, and enable us to curb potential abuse cases. For example, a reviewer who does not like a given researcher say that his/her work is bad or to be sympathetic to say that the work is excellent.

G: What are the main challenges an Editor faces regarding peer review?

PCC: Nowadays I see as a major challenge in peer review: (a) The commitment of some of the reviewers regarding the pre-determined deadlines, which are informed when sending the invitation. (b) Not to overload reviewers with too much work because it means having reviews with a low standard of quality. (c) Monitor and analyze the discrepancies in the evaluation, etc.

G: How do journals find good peer reviewers for your journal?

PCC: While searching good reviewers we try to make invitations to researchers who have an affinity for the areas that the journal intends to act and who: (a) Are linked to postgraduate programs. (b) Reviewers mainly from international congresses. (c) Authors who have at least a master’s degree and who are or wish to attend the PhD and have published interesting papers in international journals and conferences. (d) Through the contact network we created, for example, the group created in Gaudeamus or Linkedin. (e) Other reviewers of journals that we eventually have contact. But we also tried to assess the level of commitment of the reviewer regarding deadlines for review, the contributions they make to the articles they assess, because our goal is not only to publish many works, but works with quality and that contribute to the academy and society.

G: Does the perfect peer reviewer exist? How should she/he be?

PCC: In my opinion there is no perfect reviewer because we are human beings and therefore flawed. We can be affected by a number of variables, e.g. fatigue, stress, depression, overwork, family problems, financial and/or professional issues, etc.

Supposedly, publishers should worry about overwork, check if reviewers can assess, thank for the commitment to evaluate a particular article and meet deadlines.

G: Do you think that being a peer reviewer is important for a professor? Why?

PCC: It is certainly important because when a teacher will prepare your lesson or material support, (s)he cannot focus only on books, but also articles and opinions of others, so be participating as a reviewer and even as a researcher/author will help create more interesting lessons and current information, you can provide your students current examples.

I often tell my students: a good book may come up at bookstores and libraries with a delay of at least 2 years of the start of the research that generated it, due to adjustments and corrections. Like an article, a book must go through the evaluation and the rating of reviewers which can take months, not to mention the other phases.

G: Finally, what advice would you give to peer reviewers? (For example, how many articles to review a month or how much time dedicate to each review?, etc.)

PCC: Observe the policies of the journal regarding: (a) The deadlines for evaluation. (b) The amount of articles that will be submitted for evaluation by edition. (c) If the journal has affinity with their research area. (d) If the journal states the responsibilities of authors, (and) if you have a conflict of interest related to the policy. (e) If it presents the mission, vision and goal of the journal. (f) If it keeps an updated list of reviewers who evaluated the course articles over the years, etc.

But I also see that the prospective reviewers should bother to provide the greatest possible amount of information for the journal they are applying for, as an instance the area and method of research, and a brief professional biography.

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