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Davide

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Yesterday I received the reviewers comments from an editor of "Journal of clinical biochemistry". The paper was rejected but what upset me most was the fact that it took almost four months to reach this decision and one of the reviewer wrote a total of 4 lines (!!!!!) and this could have been done in one day.

I can accept that a paper might not be good enough for a journal, what I can't accept is that it takes 4 months to do that. The scientific work is based on publications that are needed to raise funds and for career advancement.

I think it is unbearable that we are hostages of editors of scientific journals who can decide if, and when a paper can be published or rejected. Often the reviewers are not good enough to judge a paper (in the best case), other times they delay the answers because they are writing similar papers or (the worst case) the delay and "take inspiration" from your work.

We are now in 2020 and I think this type of procedure for scientific publication is absolutely prehistoric. In the internet era the name of the reviewers should be available and the revision process could involve even tens of reviewers in a more transparent way.

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It takes time to offer that level of analysis and your work isn’t as high of a priority to them as their own work. Your work probably also isn’t the only paper on their desk to be reviewed. I’d say 4 months is pretty quick and you should be more patient / less entitled about the process.

What do you propose instead? How would you speed things up in a fair way? It’s easy to complain, but hard to make things better. If you had a magic wand, how would you improve the system?

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I don’t know, 4 months is unusually long in my experience, limited though it is. Particularly with so little feedback. My thesis examiners weren’t even allowed that much time, and that thing was 350 pages long (not that it stopped one of them taking 5 months). Unless it is sent to a third reviewer, and depending on the journal, I would have thought a turn around of 3-4 weeks to be on the long side of reasonable (longer if it needs a 3rd). I can’t imagine how you think 10 reviewers would solve the issues you’ve listed. Sounds like nightmare fuel to me.

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Unusual, yes, but probably not unheard of. Reviewers are generally volunteers (unlike thesis committee members), and occasionally one reviewer will not get their review returned in a timely fashion, so the journal has to go get another reviewer. Depending on the field, there might not be a lot of choices for qualified reviewers.

 

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If it takes that long one of the reasons is typically that the received reviews were deemed insufficient (and just did not come back) and they had to look for additional reviewers. From mathematicians I have heard about rather long review times as routine. One should also keep in mind that much in academic sciences is carried by active researchers (including reviewers and editors) which almost inevitably leads to delays (or at least I have yet to meet someone who has got more than enough time for all their commitments).

 

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7 hours ago, mistermack said:

The fact that something passes peer review doesn't really tell you much these days. You need to look at the standing of the publication. And even that's no guarantee of quality.

https://www.the-scientist.com/the-nutshell/fake-paper-exposes-failed-peer-review-38589   

The quality of a publication is not based on being published. Rather after that it depends on how it impacts the community. Often it is skewed by who publishes I too and sometimes the importance is recognized way later. Peer review was always the initial bar.

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When I get a paper to review I usually do it in less than a week because I know that the scientist behind that paper need an answer as soon as possible. The months long review are the time needed when internet was not available and papers were actually sent by airmail.

I think in the internet era is a nonsense.

I know is now impossible to do but I would love to see a paper published right away on the internet and then have scientists reading it and making their comments (like a comment to a post). These reviewers will then put a rate that will tell the other scientists how good it is. In this case the reviewers' process will not be blind (which I think is a shame) and the editors' work will be to overview the various comment.

Personally I think the scientific publication how it is now is a shame. You cant have blind reviewers that can delay your work (so they can publish their own) or in the worst case they can copy your work and you have no idea of who read your paper!

 

On 10/25/2019 at 1:40 PM, iNow said:

It takes time to offer that level of analysis and your work isn’t as high of a priority to them as their own work. Your work probably also isn’t the only paper on their desk to be reviewed. I’d say 4 months is pretty quick and you should be more patient / less entitled about the process.

What do you propose instead? How would you speed things up in a fair way? It’s easy to complain, but hard to make things better. If you had a magic wand, how would you improve the system?

It takes time (4 months) to read 15 pages and make a comment?!?!

I think to have strangers reading your work and decide whether is worth publishing or not is a shame.

If you want to have a scientific journal then you need personal reviewers working only for that journals which can make (not blind) reviews. Giving papers away to blind reviewers which are obviously your competitor I think is prehistoric

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2 hours ago, Davide said:

It takes time (4 months) to read 15 pages and make a comment?!?!

If I'm a reviewer, you're not exactly my highest priority, nor the only review request I've received. Your lack of patience, to be frank, isn't my problem. We all agree faster is better. We all agree waiting too long is not the way this system should work ideally.

I'm largely taking issue with the sense of entitlement you're displaying in your posts (unless perhaps the paper you submitted offers proof that the world actually revolves around you and not around the sun?).

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3 hours ago, Davide said:

I know is now impossible to do but I would love to see a paper published right away on the internet and then have scientists reading it and making their comments (like a comment to a post).

There are open reviews that work similar to that, but there are a lot of issues with it, especially in competitive fields, where there are overaps in research. There, big labs have it easier to scoop up things and just get things out with all the wrinkles ironed out and smaller labs getting hosed in the process. But one can already put things into bioarxiv, if one is inclined to do so, but we see a lot of crap out there, too. Which clearly shows that without at least some barrier we are going to be swamped by nonsense and it is not clear who is going to put the time in to comment on those. I'd rather have slightly curated swamp of nonsense over a non-curate one, to be honest. Even if it means that it takes a while to get comments  back (which suits me just fine, it gives me time to catch up on stuff before I have to work on revisions). Most open review schemes do indeed a hybrid approach in that regard.

3 hours ago, Davide said:

When I get a paper to review I usually do it in less than a week because I know that the scientist behind that paper need an answer as soon as possible.

That is admirable. However, most folks have a couple of theses, their courses plus exams, unfinished papers that need to get out yesterday since the student needs to finish up, the grant deadline and, committee work to deal with when a request for a paper comes in. And then one realizes that there are already two or more on the desk that should be worked on, already. If there is a gap in scheduling, a week is quick. But if there is not, it can easily take longer just to find the time to sit down and work on it. And there is of course the delay from the editors finding suitable reviewers, many of which will decline because they are too busy already. 

Point is, however, whether the time frame was extraordinary, which would just then be a fluke (I had one sitting on a desk of an editor, because he actually thought he sent it out, which was annoying but never happened again) or something systemic in your field.

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On 10/28/2019 at 7:44 PM, iNow said:

If I'm a reviewer, you're not exactly my highest priority, nor the only review request I've received. Your lack of patience, to be frank, isn't my problem. We all agree faster is better. We all agree waiting too long is not the way this system should work ideally.

I'm largely taking issue with the sense of entitlement you're displaying in your posts (unless perhaps the paper you submitted offers proof that the world actually revolves around you and not around the sun?).

If you cant review fast, then don't review. We don't need arrogant people like you. We need good, honest and responsible reviewers. From your words I can understand that you are none of them. Your words means that you have no idea of what a researchers work is. It looks like you are one of this arrogant (which most of the tiime is goes with ignorant) person that sit all the time at his desk thinking that he's the greatest in the world.

If you cannot understand that reviewing other peoples work MUST BE a priority, then don't do it. Please make a favor to all of us and DON'T REVIEW!!!

 

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25 minutes ago, Davide said:

If you cant review fast, then don't review. We don't need arrogant people like you. We need good, honest and responsible reviewers. From your words I can understand that you are none of them. Your words means that you have no idea of what a researchers work is. It looks like you are one of this arrogant (which most of the tiime is goes with ignorant) person that sit all the time at his desk thinking that he's the greatest in the world.

If you cannot understand that reviewing other peoples work MUST BE a priority, then don't do it. Please make a favor to all of us and DON'T REVIEW!!!

 

The potential problem with this attitude is that you might be left with so few reviewers that they can't handle the load and will refuse to review additional articles. That doesn't improve the system.

If a journal doesn't have a deadline and a way to quickly re-assign the review duties, then they have failed, too.

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12 minutes ago, swansont said:

The potential problem with this attitude is that you might be left with so few reviewers that they can't handle the load and will refuse to review additional articles. That doesn't improve the system.

If a journal doesn't have a deadline and a way to quickly re-assign the review duties, then they have failed, too.

Exactly! the whole review system is wrong. Scientific journals should have their own reviewers instead of relying on strangers which often have conflict of interests or are just to busy writing stupid comments on whatever forum they find in the internet.... So, for example, a reviewer might delay a decision because he/her is trying to publish a similar work or just reject your work because you forgot to say hello to them to the last conference.

I think this is so prehistoric. Is it only me thinking that the whole scientific publication world must be completely renewed?

By the way. I resubmitted the paper and after 10 days it was accepted without a single modification. This make me think even more that the first review was delayed (and rejected) on purpose.

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2 hours ago, Davide said:

Exactly! the whole review system is wrong. Scientific journals should have their own reviewers instead of relying on strangers which often have conflict of interests or are just to busy writing stupid comments on whatever forum they find in the internet.... So, for example, a reviewer might delay a decision because he/her is trying to publish a similar work or just reject your work because you forgot to say hello to them to the last conference.

I think this is so prehistoric. Is it only me thinking that the whole scientific publication world must be completely renewed?

By the way. I resubmitted the paper and after 10 days it was accepted without a single modification. This make me think even more that the first review was delayed (and rejected) on purpose.

Were the reviewers and the journal all the same?

Main issue would be simply finding people qualified. It's not like you're submitting an article to a magazine. Even there though can be a significant delay due to the number of submissions.

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3 hours ago, Davide said:

Exactly! the whole review system is wrong. Scientific journals should have their own reviewers instead of relying on strangers which often have conflict of interests or are just to busy writing stupid comments on whatever forum they find in the internet....

If you pay the piper, you call the tune...

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1 hour ago, Endy0816 said:

Were the reviewers and the journal all the same?

Main issue would be simply finding people qualified. It's not like you're submitting an article to a magazine. Even there though can be a significant delay due to the number of submissions.

In my opinion is little different. Your "qualified" means to me finding people who are expert in your area of research. This means your direct competitors and, unfortunately, more than you think do not perform a fair review.

45 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

If you pay the piper, you call the tune...

If we do not want reviewers to be paid directly by the journals, than there should be an independent panel of reviewers, (not blind) independently paid (by nations worldwide? a little by each scientific journal? other ideas?) who do that as a job.

In this way we can fix precise deadlines (one month for the decision?) and a fair review process.

Otherwise, as it is now, the scientific value of a paper is at risk and we might have rejected papers who, in the future, will win the Nobel prize

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6 minutes ago, Davide said:

If we do not want reviewers to be paid directly by the journals, than there should be an independent panel of reviewers, (not blind) independently paid (by nations worldwide? a little by each scientific journal? other ideas?) who do that as a job.

In this way we can fix precise deadlines (one month for the decision?) and a fair review process.

Why do we need a deadline?

10 minutes ago, Davide said:

Otherwise, as it is now, the scientific value of a paper is at risk and we might have rejected papers who, in the future, will win the Nobel prize

That's a non sequitur; if a nobel prize is in the offing, someone will jump on the wagon...

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22 minutes ago, Davide said:

This means your direct competitors and, unfortunately, more than you think do not perform a fair review.

What percentage don't perform a fair review? I'm curious where you got that data.

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32 minutes ago, Davide said:

In my opinion is little different. Your "qualified" means to me finding people who are expert in your area of research. This means your direct competitors and, unfortunately, more than you think do not perform a fair review.

They are likewise relying on you to do a fair review as well. If you don't like it you can go the vanity press route but there's little to stop people from publishing garbage.

I honestly don't think you could even find multiple people per subject to review papers all day. If you have the skills to review at that level you have the skills to do.

Edited by Endy0816

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4 hours ago, Davide said:

Exactly! the whole review system is wrong. Scientific journals should have their own reviewers instead of relying on strangers which often have conflict of interests or are just to busy writing stupid comments on whatever forum they find in the internet.... So, for example, a reviewer might delay a decision because he/her is trying to publish a similar work or just reject your work because you forgot to say hello to them to the last conference.

How would that work? How would you employ these folks with the specific knowledge necessary for each paper and keep them occupied as an employee?

Otherwise it's the same thing as we have now, only the journals would pay the referees, so as to keep them to a schedule. Driving up the cost of the publications.

 

 

22 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

That's a non sequitur; if a nobel prize is in the offing, someone will jump on the wagon...

I think you overestimate the ease with which one might identify certain work that ends up having significance.  

34 minutes ago, Davide said:

In my opinion is little different. Your "qualified" means to me finding people who are expert in your area of research. This means your direct competitors and, unfortunately, more than you think do not perform a fair review.

If we do not want reviewers to be paid directly by the journals, than there should be an independent panel of reviewers, (not blind) independently paid (by nations worldwide? a little by each scientific journal? other ideas?) who do that as a job.

In this way we can fix precise deadlines (one month for the decision?) and a fair review process.

What's missing the pool of talent from where you might draw this panel.

Quote

Otherwise, as it is now, the scientific value of a paper is at risk and we might have rejected papers who, in the future, will win the Nobel prize

I'm pretty sure papers have already been rejected that were ultimately the basis of Nobel prizes.

 

edit: Ratcliffe won the Medicine prize this year. The paper he wrote was rejected by Nature. The Higgs boson paper was rejected by Physical Review Letters.

https://www.news18.com/news/world/27-year-old-letter-reveals-scientist-peter-ratcliffes-nobel-prize-winning-study-was-rejected-by-journal-2344475.html

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8 minutes ago, swansont said:

I think you overestimate the ease with which one might identify certain work that ends up having significance.

Almost certainly, but if I'm paying the piper, I expect a tune...

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On 11/4/2019 at 4:46 PM, zapatos said:

What percentage don't perform a fair review? I'm curious where you got that data.

Reading your post I understand that nothing will ever change in this field.

Can you imagine if FIAT-Chrysler, before building a new car, must send the project to Renault to be approved? Do you think Renault will say: wow, nice car! go on.

I am very surprise to see how scientist are naive about scientific publication or, I am the naive one and most of the scientist are ok with that. If I make a favor to you then you'll make a favor to me. It's all a matter of connection. Going to conference, knowing the right people, that's science!

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2 hours ago, Davide said:

Reading your post I understand that nothing will ever change in this field.

Can you imagine if FIAT-Chrysler, before building a new car, must send the project to Renault to be approved? Do you think Renault will say: wow, nice car! go on.

I am very surprise to see how scientist are naive about scientific publication or, I am the naive one and most of the scientist are ok with that. If I make a favor to you then you'll make a favor to me. It's all a matter of connection. Going to conference, knowing the right people, that's science!

No, that's life (or paranoia)!!!

Science seems to advance anyway.

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3 hours ago, Davide said:

Reading your post I understand that nothing will ever change in this field.

Can you imagine if FIAT-Chrysler, before building a new car, must send the project to Renault to be approved? Do you think Renault will say: wow, nice car! go on.

I am very surprise to see how scientist are naive about scientific publication or, I am the naive one and most of the scientist are ok with that. If I make a favor to you then you'll make a favor to me. It's all a matter of connection. Going to conference, knowing the right people, that's science!

You clearly know nothing about scientific review. The purpose of a review is to critique a paper, not sing its praises.

PeerReview.jpeg&sp=7412526a50e2560b2d0f0

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5 hours ago, Davide said:

Reading your post I understand that nothing will ever change in this field.

Can you imagine if FIAT-Chrysler, before building a new car, must send the project to Renault to be approved? Do you think Renault will say: wow, nice car! go on.

I am very surprise to see how scientist are naive about scientific publication or, I am the naive one and most of the scientist are ok with that. If I make a favor to you then you'll make a favor to me. It's all a matter of connection. Going to conference, knowing the right people, that's science!

Oh my! You mean you don't actually have data on 'unfair review frequency' but are instead falsifying data in order to support your desired conclusions?!?! No wonder you are having difficulty getting your paper accepted.

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