Monday, June 01, 2009

A lack of enemies

I am working on submitting a paper to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They ask that I suggest editors and reviewers who are qualified to evaluate my paper. They also give me the option of listing a few people who I want to not be given the chance to peer review my paper. I assume this is so that if two authors have written on the same topic, and clashed on that topic, one can't keep the other from publishing by writing very negative reviews. It is a way to ask that your paper not be sent to your rival and then treated unfairly.

There are people whose previous conclusions I disagree with, but nobody I can think of who I have any reason to believe would treat my paper unfairly. I haven't been in the field long enough or published enough papers to make enemies yet. Something to look forward to, I guess.


jte said...

Totally bizarre. Sensible, in its own way, of course, but still bizarre.

Has anyone suggested a good alternative to the existing peer review process? I don't even know if the existing process is in need of a good alternative; but it seems that a fair amount of junk gets through peer review, and meanwhile the system also requires the person who is going to be reviewed to be an integral part of deciding who is doing the reviewing. Possibly the best of all possible worlds, but not the best of all possible+impossible worlds.

Dan Levitis said...

There is a lot of skepticism about asking authors to suggest their reviewers. The main reason it is done is to save the editors of the journal time. They aren't required to follow my suggestions, but this often saves them the step of reading the paper and looking up who is qualified to judge its merits.

The constraint is that editors need to be people who are active researchers in the field, but those people are usually very busy with their own research, and basically editing out of a sense of social obligation to the scientific society. It is understood that the process needs to take relatively little of their time. Authors, on the other hand, are very motivated to see their papers published. Given this incentive structure, it is inevitable that as many tasks as possible will be shifted to the authors.