Call to Action: Improve Review Process in Academic Publishing
Based on a recent review incident, I made this list of good practices that can help us to improve the review process in academic publishing.
- Novelty: If you think the contribution lacks novelty, then provide references to existing efforts that have tackled this exact problem. If existing efforts together address the described contribution, then briefly describe how.
- Scientific/Rigorous: If you think the contribution isn’t scientific/rigorous, then describe why and how it isn’t scientific/rigorous. It would be great if you can provide input on how to make it scientific/rigorous.
- Importance/Relevant: If you think a contribution is trivial/relevant, then just say so along with your reasons why you think so.
- Scope/Extent: Review the contributions described in the manuscript. Do not review the contributions the manuscript should/could/would have made and hold the authors responsible for not making such contributions.
- Content: Read the entire manuscript (unless it is so badly written that reading it is hard). There is no point in making remarks that are addressed in the manuscript.
- Basic validity of Reviews: “Review” the reviews for obvious issues before sharing them with the authors.
- Lack of Expertise: If you think there are no expert reviewers to review a manuscript, then admit such is the case and immediately return the manuscript to the authors. This allows authors to submit the work elsewhere and avoids the awkwardness due to uninformed and shallow reviews.
- Anonymization: Not all information can be anonymized without divulging identity of authors. In such cases, consider allowing (minimal amount of) redactions; specifically, when the information is interesting and useful but not central to the contributions (which is often the case).
- Preprints: Publish pre-prints of your manuscript (at venues such as Arxiv or ResearchGate). People interested in your work will read it and provide feedback.
Paper/Manuscript Archiving Services
- Reviews: Allow authors to “attach” reviews to their pre-prints.
Do you think we should consider other practices? If so, please lease leave a comment.