Posted by: cjlortie | May 25, 2012

Important developments at Oikos

Oikos has a new EiC, Dries Bonte.  In an editorial, this and other major developments are described including some of the new philosophy and current goals for Oikos.

Dries in action… likely calling authors to tell them the good news.

Here is a brief summary of the changes (but I leave the thunder to the editorial).
The editorial team, inclusively, will write editorials as frequently as we can to highlight papers illustrating effective synthesis.
Oikos is moving all handling to ScholarOne Manuscripts to speed things up and ensure that reviews are never lost.
There are now 50 handling editors and profiles (including some amusing pics) are listed on the Oikos website.
Currently, Oikos publishes approximately 15% of all submissions.
As a first examplar of insights into Oikos synthesis, the spatial ecology papers in that issue are described highlighting the novel elements.


  1. Can you make the editorial open access? I can’t read it from home, and there’s not even an abstract.

    BTW, if you want a funnier picture of Johan Kotze, I have plenty. I have a few rather scary ones too.

    • Yes, I just emailed the publisher about this. I noticed this too as I could not open it either, ha!
      Funnier picture, hmmm, tempting…

  2. Whoa! That’s a pretty skewed sex ratio you’ve got there on your editorial board.

    Bob, I’m pretty sure I can send a link of this conversation to poor old Johan (and that photo really does make him look old). Be careful what you wish for.

    I read the Editorial earlier today, when I had institutional access. Nice (re)introduction. But it’s a good thing none of the authors is a native english speaker, all those linguistic mistakes are a bit of a headache. Oh. Wait a moment…

    • Sorry, that’s come out quite snarky. What I mean to say is that Oikos is a good journal, that I respect and like. Neither the editorial board sex-ratio nor the editorial article proof reading are good advertisements for the journal. Hopefully these will be improved in the near future!

      • I agree. Oikos needs women. We have discussed this at length numerous times. Also, invited many. In my limited experience, female editors are much better than men too. Yes, English, so pesky.

      • Thanks Mike. The sex-ratio and perception of the board by others are however important. In a study on a journal that switched from single to double-blind reviews, my colleagues found an increase in representation by papers published by women. My interpretation of this is that it is not necessarily the removal of bias but that is was a change in the perception by the community that this journal is more fair. So, it is disappointing that some may perceive the sex-ratio and editorial as less than ideal. Any suggestions?

      • I won’t argue that female editors are better than male (on average), but in one scientific field where the sex ratio is closer to being equal than many others, it was striking how few there were on the panel (6 from 50).

        I don’t know what efforts you took when selecting and inviting editors, but I know getting female scientists to accept “extra curricular” work is a serious problem, for a variety of reasons.

        I think Athene Donald would be a good place to start asking for advice.

        She’s one of the most interesting bloggers I’ve read who’s dealt with gender equality issues, and being a physicist, is probably used to dealing with an even worse sex ratio than in ecology.

      • Thanks, good advice. We could introduce double blind to improve the handling by the current panel too though 🙂

  3. Chris, just out of interest, which double-blind study are you referring to? Is it the TREE article by Budden et al (2008)? Or something else? This particular article was supposedly about referees’ bias based on authors’ gender (although Bob and others have seriously questioned the original interpretations), rather than any editorial level bias.

    I think the question of what actually represents gender equality is enormously difficult, but hugely interesting. Is it simply sending out an equal number of invitations to both genders? Is it calculating the sex-ratio of tenured researchers in the field (or the sex-ratio of the authors submitting to the journal) and inviting editors based on that? Or, is it successfully recruiting editors based on any of those numbers? – apparently a considerably harder job.

    • Hi Mike,

      Yes, that is correct (paper #10 on her website). It was about trying to infer the importance of double-blind reviews. The reason for the positive difference is unknown and various explanations were proposed including choice by authors, i.e. more women submit to the journal when it was double blind. The journal was contacted but they did not have that data unfortunately. So, yup, you are right, not clear why. The contention was the statistics but after several replies with re-analyses I believe the findings were robust. For me, the ‘why’ was more interesting to consider though, why would this review method be preferred? Do you want to collaborate and look up the tenured researchers in field etc.? What an awesome idea. It would be so amazing to avoid the ‘old-boy’ approach of invite whom you know, and instead, compile a long-list of potential editors, balanced in some way.

      • The contention was the statistics but after several replies with re-analyses I believe the findings were robust.

        I’m not so sure about the original authors’ final interpretations… there is probably room for more detailed analysis, but as you point out, the data restrictions might be pretty serious. I find Bob O’H and colleagues’ re-analysis rather compelling (the trend in increasing female 1st author publication rates in BE started long before double blinding came in), but haven’t kept up with the more recent primary research Amber et al have done on this. Thanks for the link to her site though, very useful.

        It’s definitely an interesting topic for investigation, and the changing sex-ratio of tenured researchers, grad students and Post-docs (who may even contribute more first authored papers) could be very useful explanatory variables – but I’m going to move jobs and countries in the next couple of months, so probably shouldn’t commit to anything at the moment. Feel free to contact me off-air if you want to discuss things at a more leisurely pace!

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