On Reviewer Acknowledgement from J. Neuroscience

January 16, 2008

One hears now and again from journal editors of one’s acquaintance how hard it is to get reviewers for papers. In fact a William F. Perrin detailed the problem in his field in a recent Science letter-to-Editor:

As a past editor of Marine Mammal Science and a present associate editor of the Journal of Mammalogy, I have had great difficulty in lining up reviewers. Sometimes it takes 8 or 10 tries to find someone who will agree to review a paper. The typical excuse is “I’m too busy.”

One of the potential reviewer motivators often cited is official recognition which is a practice unevenly applied by journals. The Journal of Neuroscience is to be congratulated, with a recent listing of their 2007 reviewers and another list for those who have reviewed 5 or more manuscripts. Thanks to you all.

Skimming the Full Monty list one cannot think certain cynical thoughts. Such as, “how long will it be before some smart arse adds up the number of male and female reviewers?” not to mention, “why is [Institution X / Subfield Y/ geographical area Z] overrepresented?” and of course “why  is that idiot rat bastige reviewing one manuscript, never mind five or more?”.

Perhaps this cynicism explains the choice of journals which do not publish an annual list of reviewers…?

5 Responses to “On Reviewer Acknowledgement from J. Neuroscience”

  1. CC Says:

    On a somewhat related note: now that we’re in 2008, can journals please recognize that scientists communicate via email and stop making us provide postal addresses, telephone numbers and fax numbers for suggested reviewers?

    I’ve just spent another hour scouring the web for these people’s phone numbers, and typing in their long addresses from their papers, with no idea of what parts of a Croatian lab’s address are meaningful for mail delivery. As if the editor is going to pull out a fountain pen and write a missive to them, instead of just emailing!


  2. Noah Gray Says:

    Sorry to hear that, CC. Do journals still state that they require that information on their submission sheets? Nature Neuroscience (and by proxy, I assume the rest of NPG) ask for this:

    Contact information (name, e-mail address and institution) for suggested and/or excluded reviewers (if any)

    I’d have to say that for almost 1/2 of my cover letters, the authors follow the above directions. 1/4 only give names and institutions, and 1/4 give me more than what is listed above (which I never use).


  3. drugmonkey Says:

    Some journals want full contact details, yes. Some make their “extras” requirements “hard requirements” in the sense that the site won’t take the submission without the field filled. some will. Some just want a couple of emails in the cover letter.

    I see a broad range.

    I was struck by CCs comment opening a hard copy survey from the marketing division of a publisher, asking me to answer questions on how happy I was with the submission process for my last paper published in JournalX. Good gravy what a waste of money, I thought. Wondering if they could possibly get better hit rate with paper / snail mail than with email / electronic. cripes.


  4. CC Says:

    Some journals want full contact details, yes. Some make their “extras” requirements “hard requirements” in the sense that the site won’t take the submission without the field filled. some will.

    Yeah, normally you can submit without a fax number, for example. But if they ask for it, the position of supplication in which I am at that moment makes me feel compelled to unearth it.

    …1/4 only give names and institutions…

    That’s just obnoxious. I suspect it’s the usual scientific solipsism regarding one’s field — what, you don’t know who Susan Chang is?!?


  5. drugmonkey Says:

    well, perhaps it is more along the lines of “geez, you guys publish papers from this group at least once a year, don’t you have a database or something?”.

    Noah, more likely to get a name only if it is for your more frequent authors?


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