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.

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Responses

  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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