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Subject: Re: Issue: Referees & Timely publications ...
From: Dr Audrey Geffen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Academic forum on fisheries ecology and related topics <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 6 Jun 1997 15:45:55 +0000

text/plain (46 lines)

At 08:26 06/06/97 +0200, you wrote:
>At 15:34 05.06.97 GMT, you wrote:
>>For over a year  ago,  there  was  a debate in FISH-ECOLOGY about
>>timely publications.  I understand,  from  a  few  editors,  this
>>issue  is  getting  worse  as  time  passes  and the conventional
>>publishing system seems to be useless:
        Last year, when this topic came up, I thought about adding some
comments but decided that the opinions expressed already gave a reasonable
coverage of the real situation, that most scientists were carrying
increasing workloads. That situation has not improved with time, and is
unlikely to improve. I don't believe that the rapid generation, whether on
paper or electronically delivered, of poorly prepared results would be an
        In the first place, you really need to assess whether there is an
untimely delay in publication of results. Personally, I think that the
through-put is pretty fast. Most marine journals will turn a manuscript into
print within 9 months, just check the dates for submission and acceptance
over the last few years. Delays in production are rare now, and it is a
concern of all editors to have a large selection of ready-to-go manuscripts
to feed into the press.
        So, that leaves the process of review and revision as the area
possible for improvement. Most reviewers are asked to return comments within
3-4 weeks, some journals push for two weeks. Most editors send manuscripts
to reviewers based on publications in that field, and if you follow change
of addresses then you can rapidly assess whether the potential reviewer is
'junior' or 'senior'. Most academics already pass manuscripts around to
students and post-docs for reviewing and/or additional comments. Most
reviewers try to get their comments back in a timely fashion, because they
know that their work is being processes in the same community. A major
factor, which is not appreciated by the different institutions, is how much
variation there is seasonally in the speed of review and revision. In
academic institutions, little paper can be processes during the academic
term, but large amount get processes through the vacations. In research
institutes, reviewers with lots of ship-time often handle a number of
manuscripts during cruises, so that they get returned to the editors in
batches. We're all human, aren't we?
        From the comments I get from reviewers, I think that much of the
delay, and unwillingness to review comes from increased sloppiness on the
part of authors. Common complaints are: 1) resubmission of manuscripts from
one journal to another without substantial changes. 2) Lack of attention to
grammer, proof-reading etc. 3) Simultaneous submissions to different
journals of the same material, 4) just plain poor writing.
        Another source of delay is that authors often overrun the deadlines
given them for revising their manuscripts. Work that should be turned around
in weeks can drag on for a year or more. That is hardly the fault of the
editor or publisher.

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