More on peer review

I was browsing through the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (ESA)–one publication that I’ve almost never looked at because it’s not an outlet for the peer-reviewed research that would count towards our KPIs–when I read a couple of valuable articles:

1. About another “golden rule” for peer review:

If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it in an anonymous review.

additional to that suggested in a 2009 editorial in the American Naturalist:

Review for others as you would have others review for you.

2. Whether rejections without review are justified. This article gather evidence to argue that editors making such rejections were not good judges of mismatch in scope or poor scientific quality, because most of the manuscripts rejected this way were eventually published in journals of similar subject category and academic repute.

This article argues that such rejections, which they call “evading reviews”, therefore do not serve the scientific community. For one thing, they felt that evading reviews were a missed opportunity for the authors to learn how to improve.

But I think that is not difficult to solve. The associate/subject editor should give at least a quick review, if not a full review, by themselves with comments to the authors when they choose to reject a manuscript without sending out for review. I think most do the quick review/comments. That way, the authors would always get to learn what are the shortcomings before revising and re-submitting elsewhere. Of course, stipulating such a rule, especially for a full review, would increase the burden on editors, but then it also serves as a “cost” that would make the editor think carefully before rejecting without review.

Update: A robust response from the editors at ESA’s family of journals.

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1 Comment

  1. 26 December 2015 at 12:13

    […] his first time so I walked him through it with our resources I’ve found before (see here and here), although I didn’t provide any comments specific to the […]


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