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EDITORIAL
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 33-34

Journal's peer-review process: Point of view from the triad (contributor, peer reviewer and the editor)


Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. DY Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication3-Aug-2018

Correspondence Address:
Pradnya Kakodkar
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. DY Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdrr.jdrr_38_18

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How to cite this article:
Kakodkar P. Journal's peer-review process: Point of view from the triad (contributor, peer reviewer and the editor). J Dent Res Rev 2018;5:33-4

How to cite this URL:
Kakodkar P. Journal's peer-review process: Point of view from the triad (contributor, peer reviewer and the editor). J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Aug 18];5:33-4. Available from: http://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2018/5/2/33/238537



Dear Readers,

After having successfully juggled the roles of a contributor, peer reviewer, and editor across a decade and more, I felt the need to construct an editorial through my personal experiences. The attempt is to see how I can benefit the reader, to understand the nuances of the journal review process.

As a contributor, I have been submitting articles for the past 15 years. Every time an article is accepted, it is a moment of renewed sense of achievement; however, in corollary, when encountered with a new rejection, I am drawn into the same feeling of the first rejection and emotions, which rolled in thereby. It is critical but not easy to brace the thought of not having to waste any time brooding over the rejection, search for new journal, edit the manuscript to suit the criteria of the new journal, and proceed to the submission of the article. Successful submission of the article kicks in a phase needing much patience, I would say. It is about waiting to get lucky and have the editor checkout your submission and advance the work to the next phase of the peer-review process.

Through my experience (from the perspective of the contributor) having made countless submissions, the time taken for the decision from editor based on peer-review comments is quite about some luck; the editorial decision could come as early as 2 days or respect the average 90 days for turnaround. There have been occasions when the delays scale up to 370 days after repeated reminders to the editor and 780 days without reminder; and on some few other occasions, there has been no reply until eternity. In today's fast-paced world, with new research and findings being realized by days and hours, if not minutes, quick turnarounds are extremely crucial. Delay in editors' decision impacts the publication frame and gets the contributor in a rather difficult position — the findings of the research study tend to become obsolete, the reference list becomes old or somebody else would have already published the same matter diluting the uniqueness of the work. It is worse when the article just does not move from the editorial phase for days together. The first set of peer reviewers does not review the article and the days just go without sending it to the other reviewers and the article remaining in the system untouched. After a few days, this article is old enough and the editor concentrates on the new submission. The contributor is thus in jeopardy, faced with no or delayed decision.

Peer-reviewed journals are the primary means by which we vet scientific research and communicate novel discoveries to fellow scientists and the community at large.[1] Most of the times, I have tried to be a good/responsive reviewer, returning my review sheet well within time. What contributed to my timely submission? Well, it was about an interesting topic and a well-written manuscript presented for review. At times, I (and I could safely extrapolate it to the reviewer community at large) have been a party to an evitable lax, defaulting with no submission of the review. What happens is very lucid yet interesting to note — the assigned paper was beyond my scope of expertise, the topic did not have uniqueness or depth, and on some occasions, the manuscript had too many grammatical mistakes. Peer reviewing neither benefitted me as incentive points for my professional growth nor did I get any reward for the same.

In a study, the majority of the participants attributed lengthy review times to reviewer and editor fatigue, while editor persistence and journal prestige were believed to speed up the review process.[1] Editors always wish to publish the articles on the latest concept and have a timely release of the journal. However, there are inevitable situations which can cause the delay. The editor would not wish to forward the article for peer review if the topic is researched too many times already, if the manuscript is not prepared as per the journal guidelines, if there are grammatical errors, if the article is too big, and there is no clarity in the concept. Not always the editor can be blamed for the delay. Reviewers are essentially acting as “consultants to the editor to decide whether a manuscript should be accepted, returned to the authors for revision, or rejected.”[2] Editors cannot progress until the reviewer comments are received. In addition, finding peer reviewers of expertise in the field is at times difficult. Since this is not a paid job, the reviewer may not do the work on priority.

Having narrated the sides of all the contributor, peer reviewer, and editor, the following are the recommendation, which can be put forth to improve the peer-review process:

  1. Transparency in the review process communicated to the contributors
  2. Referee reward system:[1] Pay reviewers/editors or provide reviewer reward system such as free year subscription to the journal. Conceptualize different other systems (a) reward reviewers with defined value addition to their CV (e.g., “20 best reviews” or “20 best reviewers' awards”); (b) have a 1 in 2 out policy. each paper you submit as a lead author means you have to review 2 for that journal before you can publish again in that journal;” providing discounts on the reviewer's own submissions or items from the scientific publishing house (e.g., books and open access discount); and home institutions should have reward systems for researchers who regularly review papers
  3. Peer-review training:[1] Including graduate students or early career researchers as reviewers by formally training them to improve the quality of reviews and increase the network of reviewers
  4. Formulating editorial policy: The policy which clearly states the maximum number of days to reveal the decision on the paper should be mentioned in the journal “instruction to contributors.” To fix the number of days to get the review from the reviewers. Initial invite with 5-day limit for the reviewer to accept or decline the assignment. In case of declined review, the editor can select a new reviewer and the delay can be avoided
  5. The reviewers should submit their review timely and in case would not want to review, then decline as early as possible so that another reviewer can be appointed. Do not cheat the editor by accepting and not submitting the review even after several reminders
  6. Review policy: The editor can decide on a review policy wherein the reviewer suggests directions to make the paper publishable rather than targeting the review only for flaw finding and rejecting
  7. The editor should promptly invite new reviewers in case the first set of reviewers do not review the said article
  8. To follow the 10 tips to avoid a truly terrible review.[3]


There is probably no rule as applicable to the activity of peer review as the so-called “golden rule” or law of reciprocity: do not treat others in ways that you do not want to be treated yourself. This holds for the relation of the peer reviewer to the authors, the editor, and even the wider scientific community: Blocken.[3]



 
  References Top

1.
PLoS One Staff. Correction: How long is too long in contemporary peer review? Perspectives from authors publishing in conservation biology journals. PLoS One 2015;10:e0139783.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Drubin DG. Any jackass can trash a manuscript, but it takes good scholarship to create one (how MBoC promotes civil and constructive peer review). Mol Biol Cell 2011;22:525-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Blocken B. Ten Tips for a Truly Terrible Peer Review; 2017. Available from: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/reviewers-update/ten-tips-for-a-truly-terrible-peer-review. [Last accessed on 2018 Jun 08].  Back to cited text no. 3
    




 

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