Dear Reviewer… Supplementary Material

Dear reviewer,

I was going to write the following:

Thank you for reviewing my manuscript and the useful suggestions. Just one thing, when you write that I refer to additional results in an appendix (“which by the way was not included”), please download the supplementary material I have provided… it addresses almost all of your concerns.

However, I’d have to take it all back: Let me blame the submission system used! You are doing a free service to the scientific community, and the journals should not make it hard to find supplementary material.

I have previously included supplementary material as a ‘picture’ so that it comes attached to the manuscript you download, but was told off for not using the correct container. At least this time I will have unlimited space in the response letter to indicate that the supplementary material was already there… and next time I’ll probably ‘abuse’ the picture container again.

P.S. For another paper, the copy editor in India could not find the supplementary material — that’s scary.

Image: CC-by Mariya Chorna

Why are reviews always coming back in batches?

Why are reviews always coming back in batches? Send out (say) three papers spread out nicely over a couple of months, and you’ll get the reviews almost at the same time… Well, surely the always bit wouldn’t hold up any empirical test, but it’s striking how randomness plays from time to time (or is it striking that it still feels striking even if we actually know what randomness can look like?).

And yes, someone did already program the agent-based model… albeit with buses rather than reviews.

Which Journal to Submit to?

One part of being an academic is (trying to) publish research in peer-reviewed journals (well, most do…). There are literally thousands of journals, so which one should we choose? There are different ways to approach this problem, but I’m afraid no easy answers.

Apparently there are scholars who undertake research with a particular journal in mind: the research design and writing process is geared towards this journal. This sounds great, but actually just shifts the problem. Moreover, what do you do when the targeted journal rejects the article?

An easier way is to look at your references. Which journals do you cite most often? Which debates do you relate to? I find this one of the most useful approaches, although one problem is that even simple and unexciting papers often refer to papers in top journals. The challenge is to distinguish between “referring to” a paper, and “engaging with” a paper or debate.

Perhaps easier still is asking a senior colleague in the field. This only works if you know what the contribution of the paper is (or what you want it to be), which usually means having a good abstract in hand. Knowledge of journals comes from reading these journals, but also from having submitted papers to journal. Sites like SciRev, laudable as they are by letting us review journals and the submission process, are, however, no substitute to knowledge of the field. And remember, apparently even the most seasoned academics sometimes get it wrong…