Image: The reviewer-selection screen at one journal I edit for.
Warning: more detail than you may care for.
Every manuscript submitted to a (peer-reviewed) journal needs reviewers, and it’s the editor’s job to choose appropriate ones. How does that happen? Have you wondered? Well, I can’t tell you how it happens in general; but I can tell you how I do it. Continue reading
Photo: Wall of SPAM © Lee Coursey via flickr.com CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Esteemed contributor. Revered speaker. Renowned researcher. You get these e-mails too: invitations to publish papers in fake* journals, to join fake editorial boards, to speak at fake conferences. I’d certainly known I got a lot of them; but that was unquantified, because I usually just grin at their clumsy phrasing and then delete them without further thought. “What”, I thought, “would happen if I kept track of them all for a month? Would I learn anything? Could I milk a blog post out of it?” Continue reading
This is a joint post by Steve Heard and Timothée Poisot (who blogs over here). Steve is an Associate Editor for The American Naturalist and for FACETS, while Timothée is an Associate Editor for PLOS Computational Biology and Methods in Ecology & Evolution. However, the opinions here are our own, and may or may not be shared by those journals, by other AEs, or by anyone, really.
Working as an (associate) editor can be rewarding, but it’s not always easy – in part because finding reviewers can be a challenge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, editors often think first to call on senior scientists; but many of us have learned that this isn’t the only or the best path to securing helpful peer reviews. In our experience, some of the best reviews come from early career researchers (ECRs). ECR reviewers tend to complete reviews on time, offer comprehensive comments reflecting deep familiarity with up-to-date literature, and to be constructive and kind while delivering criticism. Online survey data confirm that our positive impressions of ECR reviewers are widely shared among editors (who nonetheless underuse ECRs), while other surveys indicate that ECRs are very willing to review, with many even feeling honoured by such requests. [Both sets of surveys mentioned here were particular to ecology and evolution, although we suspect the results apply more widely.]
So there’s a paradox here: we (editors in general) love ECR reviews, but we underuse them. Why? Continue reading
OK, so first a funny story; then maybe I’ll extract some kind of lesson from it.
Way back when I was a grad student, I had finished the first chapter of my thesis and was ready to submit it for publication. I thought of myself as an evolutionary ecologist (I still do); and without much more thought about it than that, I decided to send the manuscript to Evolutionary Ecology. Mike Rosenzweig was the Editor-in-Chief at the time, and Mike promptly* sent my manuscript back with an editorial decline, on the grounds that the manuscript was straight-up ecology, without any evolution in it.
So what did I do? Here comes the dumb part. Continue reading