Peer review is a dumpster fire, right? At least, that’s what I hear – and there’s a reason for that.
Last month, I got reviews back on my latest paper. Opening that particular email always makes me both excited and depressed, and this one ran true to form: a nicely complimentary opening from the editor and Reviewer 1 – followed by several pages of detailed critiques from Reviewer 2 – and Reviewer 3 – and, believe it or not, Reviewer 4. Continue reading
I recently learned about Peer Community In (PCI), a new system for reviewing and recommending preprints. I’m really intrigued. It’s true that I’m an old fuddy-duddy who’s on record as saying that we often exaggerate the problems with the status quo, and as not liking to think outside the box. And yet there are good reasons to think it might be good to have other ways beyond traditional journals to disseminate science. We should experiment with a variety of new systems, and PCI seems like one well worth exploring. Read on to learn more!
What follows is a guest post by Denis Bourguet (email@example.com), Benoit Facon (firstname.lastname@example.org), Thomas Guillemaud (email@example.com), and Ruth Hufbauer (firstname.lastname@example.org). DB, BF, and TG are the founders of PCI, and RH is a colleague and member of the board of PCI Evol Biol.
We believe that the current system of publishing with academic journals suffers from four crucial problems. First, Continue reading
Image: Asim Saeed via flickr.com CC-BY-2.0
This is a joint post by Steve Heard and Andrew Hendry (crossposted here on Andrew’s blog).
Another week, another rejection, right? If you’ve been in science long at all, you almost certainly have a bulging file of rejections for grants, manuscripts, fellowships, and even jobs. Here, for example, is Steve’s truly impressive job-rejection history; and here’s a previous analysis of Andrew’s manuscript rejections.
We were part of a recent Twitter exchange that began when Steve tweeted in celebration of submitting a manuscript – to its third different journal:
A few months ago, I wrote a post that prompted a brief twitter discussion with Meghan Duffy about whether we sign our reviews. I tend to sign mine, and Meg tends not to, but neither of us felt completely sure that our approach was the right one. So, we decided that it would be fun to write parallel posts about our views on signing (or not signing) reviews. Here is Meg’s, over at Dynamic Ecology; please read it, as she makes excellent points (all of which I agree with) even while arriving at a different conclusion (and a different default practice) than I do!
A lot has been written about the merits of signed vs. anonymous peer review. There are arguments on both sides (which I don’t intend to review comprehensively), but in general I’m firmly convinced that at least the offer of anonymity is important to getting broad reviewer participation and high-quality reviews. But I sign almost all of the reviews I write. This seems odd in at least two ways. First, here I am plugging anonymity, but I don’t use it much; and second, if I sign almost all of my reviews, why don’t I sign all of them? I’ll try to explain; and I’m trying to explain to myself as much as I am to you, because I’m far from convinced that I’m doing the right thing. Continue reading
Lock image: SimpleIcon http://www.simpleicon.com, CC BY 3.0
Every week or two I see a tweet, or overhear a conversation, from somebody bemoaning the difficulty of accessing a paper. Often it reads about like this:
Another day, another paywalled paper I can’t access and won’t cite. Moving on to read some open science….*
I get that open-access is an attractive model**. I’d be pleased if we moved all our literature this way, although only if that meant that we had solved the (enormous) transitional funding problems and dealt with the inevitable unintended consequences. But none of that matters to a simple and important point: I don’t care how fervent an open-access advocate you are; it’s still your job to use our literature properly. It’s absurd to claim that a paper deserves to be read and cited if it’s published in The American International Journal of Ecography (a hypothetical open-access journal that’s predatory with fraudulent peer review***), but not if published in The American Naturalist (a subscription-model journal of very high quality published by a great society). Absurd. 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
Photo: Journal of Universal Rejection coffee mug (crop), by Tilemahos Efthimiadis via flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Peer review gets a lot of grief. It’s one of the things we love to say is “broken”. It takes too long, or at least we think it does. Occasionally a reviewer completely misses the point, goes on an ad hominem attack, or produces some other kind of idiotic review. But for all the flak aimed its way, I’m convinced that peer review – overall – is fantastic; volunteer reviewers and editors have vastly improved nearly every one of my papers.
But there’s one kind of review that really burns my bacon. Continue reading