Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Peer Review

If you want to publish in a journal, when you submit your paper, it goes through the peer review process.  Typically, the journal editor sends the paper to three people who are familiar with your subject.  They can either accept with minor changes, accept with major changes, or reject your paper.  The editor lets the author know how it went, then sends them the suggested changes they need to make.  The author will spend the next four-six weeks working on addressing these changes.  Sometimes it involves making new figures, testing a few things, adding a section, or, if they are lucky, just grammar issues.  It isn't uncommon for a paper to have to be reviewed a few times before the author gets the okay from all of the reviewers.  The last time I published a paper, it was my first semester at Metro.  I was teaching four brand new classes with labs and had to reply to my reviews with a full teaching load.  It was stressful!  Luckily, I was able to do enough extra work to show my reviewers that my science was sound. 

This week seems to be all about peer reviewing.   We are all reviewing something or getting reviews back or both!  It can be a stressful, time consuming process.  The first time I ever got reviews back, I read them, then went home to sulk.  I took them very personally.  In the end, the reviews always helped me to make my published paper better and I always end up appreciating them. 

I may or may not be currently reviewing a paper for a journal that's a pretty big deal in my field.  (I like to keep things anonymous.)  I ran across this EOS article a while back and it is finally coming in handy for me, so I thought I would share it with you.  It tells us how to write a great peer review.  I think this can be useful for people who are peer reviewing officially, or something to think about the next time you read a journal article.  How would you review that paper?  You could also play peer reviewer at the student level and see how your fellow students' papers look.  I'll probably spend 8-10 hours reviewing a paper.  There goes my Saturday! 

EOS's figure is below.  The full article can be found here.