Posted by: cjlortie | March 16, 2012

Journal loyalty.

Nearing the end of my PhD dissertation, I was ready to submit my first paper from that process.  I had published before, and whilst the PhD was fun, it was a long haul, and I was keen to get some work out there.  I chose the Journal of Ecology for a big chapter.  It was reviewed very quickly, fairly, and the reviews made the paper much better.  Journal of Ecology was also the first journal that I reviewed for.  I did the review on time and then asked to be provided with feedback including the outcome of the manuscript.  The handling editor at the time gave me feedback.  I thought wow, this is amazing. This journal had my loyalty forever, particularly as a referee.  I had a similar experience with Oikos early on too.  I had read some neat papers and found them both enjoyable and useful.  I did a few reviews and the handling editor, Linus, was super kind and funny.  Sold. I was treated with respect and they get mine – in addition to whatever I can do to help promote novel ecology.

With the adoption of online systems to handle papers, I hope that we can still maintain the personal aspect. It is useful to chat with the editors that handle our work because it calibrates our capacity to self-assess scientific merit. Also, it is nice to have a personal communication as it provides an indication of whether they are being fair.  I always assume the best in this respect, but the odd email reassuring me that they are human and appreciate how tiring the peer review process can be gives hope.


  1. My first experience with Oikos was a rejection from the editor before receiving an official email (from Linus?) confirming receipt of my ms!!!
    I received that mail some hours after the decision letter, so this must have been one of the fastest decisions ever. But i have to admit, i was very dissapointed. The paper eventually got published in Beh. Ecol…
    We are keeping up with these fast decisions, but we need more time….

    • True. There are several potential bottlenecks in the process where waiting is built in. Soliciting referees in particular, then 21 days to get the reviews, etc. I assume handling times are pretty standard at most journals around 40 days. It would be nice to get a sense of this to calibrate ones expectations and for journals to get a sense of how they are doing too.

      Sadly, my student and I just had a nice paper rejected from a journal, not Oikos, that used a handling system, and it took 8 months! My student is ready to quit science. It got ‘lost’ part of the way through the review process and we got a nice apology etc but really? These failures of the the peer-review process are the most disconcerting.

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