We just had a paper desk rejected, that’s part of the business. My next step? Update on SciRev and review the review process (not a bad experience in the current case), and then think how to best move on. SciRev is run by a foundation and gives you insights how others fared with different journals.
How fast can you get? At what cost?
According to my inbox, one of the MDPI journals invited me to review an article that’s well outside my expertise on 29 December, 10:40 am. On 30 December, 3:00 am, I got a reminder (i.e., less than 24 hours later). On 1 January, 5:00 am, my invitation to review was cancelled because they have “received sufficient peer-review reports from other referees”.
I realize speed in itself has become a valued indicator to some, but at what cost? Whatever, I enjoyed my holidays…
A gem from the inbox
This was almost too good to be true. Luckily, I had nothing else on my mind⸮
End Peer Review?
Adam Mastroianni has an interesting post on the rise and fall of peer review. I found it interesting in that it looks at the history of peer review, and in that it asks a clear question: Is science better off because of peer review?
I think it’s worth a read, but I struggled with peer review being pitched as “an experiment”, and especially with the extrapolation from one “I posted this on PsyArXiv and got a lot of feedback” to this is what we should be doing. Would it scale? Would it be better? Would it be fairer or simply give even more weight to “prestige” and those in stable jobs with all the resources? Would we encourage even more hyperbole and select on eloquence?
Would there still be journals (or other recommendation services), and do we want to give more decision power to individual editors (and specific algorithms)? I’m just asking a lot of questions here, but I think that the answers need a careful distinction between journals, peer review, and for-profit publishers.
Breaking the review system
We hear that it’s increasingly difficult to find reviewers for journal articles. Peer review is probably a hallmark of science, but the incentives are not exactly working out. Despite efforts to counter this (e.g., DORA, slow science), we still have plenty of incentives to publish articles other than the desire to share our findings with the research community (e.g., job applications when we are asked to count the number of publications, reputation drawn from publishing in a certain journal).
While open access is undoubtedly a good thing, I’ve always had some reservations about so-called gold-access: research teams pay publishers to have an article published. Obviously the idea is that we keep rigorous peer review in place, but the incentives are staked differently. We’ve seen the incredible growth of open-access publishers like Frontiers and MDPI, at times with questionable efforts like spamming researchers in a way that fraudulent journals do. It’s a grey area.
Even though publishers like MDPI engage in peer review, we frequently hear about questionable papers getting published. To be fair, that’s something that can happen to all publishers. MDPI are incredibly fast — but a pre-print will still be faster! — and they are actively unpleasant from the perspective of a reviewer. They put a lot of time pressure, which increases the chances of a rushed review.
But having reviewed for one of their journals once, now they keep spamming me with invitations to review. I use ‘spamming’ because of the frequency, and the fact that these invitations to reviews are all about work that has absolutely nothing to do with the work I do. This is not what a serious publisher does, irrespective of what we might think of article ‘processing’ charges and commercial profits. So definitely a dark shade of grey this.
We’ve seen great work in terms of diamond or platinum open access, but for it to catch on, we also need senior colleagues to come aboard (e.g., by clearly defining how junior colleagues are selected and evaluated, by submitting their work there) — ideally before commercial interests break the system completely…
https://magazin.nzz.ch/nzz-am-sonntag/wissen/profit-statt-wissenschaftliche-qualitaet-ld.1710205 (German, paywalled)