The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: September 14, 2018
Isaac Asimov said, “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil–but there is no way around them.” As we recognize Peer Review Week 2018, much of the focus of our collection of articles is on the process that produces such rejection in an effort to ensure the quality of the works that are accepted for publication.
The theme of Peer Review Week 2018 is diversity in peer review. As an author, your background, experiences, and unique qualities contribute to the diversity of the industry and can improve the diversity of the peer review process – if you are involved. Although most of the articles in this week’s collection are related to this event, there are others themes of significance to authors in this collection including management of multiple writing projects (and how some scientists are successful hyperprolific authors), ways to get back on track if your semester plan has already fallen apart, transparency in publishing, critical & creative thinking in research, and dealing with the fear of success.
The textbook and academic authoring community needs your contributions, your perspective, and your uniqueness. This week celebrate what makes you unique and how that contributes to a diverse community of scholarly authors. Happy writing!
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it’s becoming more and more apparent that peer review is likewise less diverse and more biased than it could or should be, which is hindering our efforts to ensure an inclusive, ethical, trustworthy scholarly communications ecosystem.
If you are a researcher, have you ever been a reviewer yourself? If the answer to that question is ‘no’, then follow this series of Insights posts through Peer Review Week. We’ll be looking at why you should become a reviewer, how you can get involved, and how to be an effective reviewer.
As part of Peer Review Week, we at Scholastica decided to highlight some of the many ways that academic journals can take steps to cultivate more diversity in peer review and consequently publish articles that reflect more varied perspectives. Below we share 5 steps your journal can take to encourage diversity in peer review along with examples of journals that have successfully implemented initiatives to increase diversity among authors and reviewers and their own teams.
Writing several things at once is often called multi-tasking. This is a term I try to avoid, as it focuses on an action – ‘tasking’. Tasking has two problems – first of all, it doesn’t really highlight the thinking involved in managing multiple academic activities. And the focus on action leads very easily to considering techniques. Like scheduling. And planning.
Sometimes the best-laid plans for your semester fall apart. Anthony Ocampo and Kerry Ann Rockquemore share five ways to get back on track.
I have seen several pieces written online about impostor syndrome (one of them by me) and there is a body of scholarly work about fear of failure. Fear of success can be as big a barrier, in my view, though much less is written about that. For example, on Google Scholar, “fear of success” gets around 8,500 hits, while “fear of failure” gets around 59,000. So here’s a post to help redress the balance.
Like Stephen Kings of academia, some researchers are unusually prolific publishers, appearing as an author on as many as 72 scientific papers a year—or about every 5 days. John Ioannidis, a statistician at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, wondered whether some of them were gaming the system. So he and colleagues dove into the academic journal database Scopus and identified 265 “hyperprolific authors” between 2000 and 2016, finding that their ranks had increased 2.5-fold since 2001.
It’s important to note that, although peer review has the common goals of providing feedback on research in advance of publication, and guidance to editors in making decisions about publication, it is itself a variable activity within the incredible diversity of scholarly publishing contributions. From commercial science journal publishing to university press humanities monograph publishing, and much more beyond the spectrum those two poles suggest, the range of “peer review” expectations and delivery can be substantially different.
Peer review cannot be done by everyone. It can only be done by people who share certain levels of training and subject-expertise, and have a shared sense of what rigorous experimentation, observation and analysis should look like. That shared expertise and understanding is what should enable alert peer reviewers to reject shoddy experimental methods, flawed analysis and plans for perpetual motion machines. But as we have increasingly come to realise, any group of people with shared characteristics may display unconscious bias against outsiders, whether that means women, ethnic minorities, or those with unusual methods.
There is a present imbalance in the regional distribution of the burden of peer review. The regional distribution of reviewers (or, more specifically, of those invited to review) does not mirror the regional distribution of submitting authors. This is the conclusion of multiple studies (Kovanis, 2016 and Mulligan and van Rossum, 2014), including a study conducted by Wiley in 2016 (Warne, 2016). This research found that uneven burden upon researchers from the USA, providing 33-34% of the reviewers and 22-24% of the submissions.
During September the focus is on critical and creative thinking. Researchers use these habits of mind from the initial framing of a question to the final stages of writing and disseminating findings. The SAGE Research Methods collection includes related e-books and chapters, videos and podcasts, cases and articles. Find them in this Critical & Creative Thinking Reading List!
Publons Global State of Peer Review Report brings a new level of transparency to the state of peer review, revealing the numbers behind who’s doing it, how well they’re doing it, and how efficient the process really is. The timing is right, as the community comes together to celebrate the fourth installment of Peer Review Week, focusing on the theme of Diversity and Inclusion in Peer Review.
In keeping with the theme of Diversity in Peer Review, for this year’s Peer Review Week we’re taking a closer look at two recent studies on the topic. These articles are freely available throughout the month of September. This 2018 Learned Publishing article discusses the geographical imbalance of reviewers discovered during research in medicine and agricultural and biological sciences. This 2015 British Ecological Society article reviews a comprehensive data set of the peer review process for all submitted papers to the Functional Ecology journal and concluded that editor gender, seniority and geographic location affect who is invited to review for Functional Ecology, and how invitees respond to review invitations, but not the final outcome of the peer review process.
Researchers – many of whom we know are rather fond of holding forth (it’s tough to make them stop) – suddenly clam up when they’re staring at their newly created Twitter account or Facebook page. They’re sometimes wary of the exposure, often anxious of doing something ‘wrong’, and rarely at ease with platforms from the start. So, what kind of posts do I like seeing from researchers? Posts that…
Within the current publishing landscape, if a journal is looking to differentiate itself from others, or even from the so-called predatory or illegitimate journals, simply disclosing what you do, and how decisions are taken from the time the author submits the manuscript, to the point of publication makes you distinct. As the publishing industry moves toward greater transparency, the journals acting ethically will become easily differentiated from the journals that do not. The author will become better informed about such issues, and the decision to attempt to publish in one journal versus another will become a much more informed decision.