Getting your manuscript published -- what reviewers and editors want


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Topics covered include:
Duties of editors, reviewers, and authors
What is “peer review” & brief history
Objectives & process of peer review
What editors & reviewers are looking for?
Surviving the peer review process
What leads to ACCEPTANCE

Published in: Technology, Health & Medicine
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Getting your manuscript published -- what reviewers and editors want

  1. 1. Getting your Manuscript Published Abd Karim Alias@2011
  2. 2. ABOUT ME• Professor of Food Technology• Survivor of many peer review processes since 1991• Member of the editorial board of 4 journals (1 international & 3 nationals) OR Website: Blog:
  3. 3. OUTLINE• Duties of editors, reviewers, and authors• What is “peer review” & brief history• Objectives & process of peer review• What editors & reviewers are looking for?• Surviving the peer review process• Conclusion: what leads to ACCEPTANCE
  4. 4. Getting Published – Challenges Ahead Abd Karim Alias@2011 4
  5. 5. Editors, Reviewers, AuthorsEditors Reviewers Authors Abd Karim Alias@2011 5
  6. 6. Duties of Editors, Reviewers, Authors Editors Reviewers Authors• Publication decision • Contribution to Editorial • Reporting standards• Fair play Decision • Data Access and Retention• Confidentiality • Promptness • Originality and Plagiarism• Disclosure and conflicts • Confidentiality • Multiple, Redundant or of interest • Disclosure and conflicts Concurrent Publication of Interest • Acknowledgement of Sources • Authorship of the Paper Abd Karim Alias@2011 6
  7. 7. What is “peer review” Peer review is…An evaluation process in which experts critique thework of individuals or groups seeking recognition,publication, or funding. Abd Karim Alias@2011 7
  8. 8. What is “peer review”For the publishers… They rely on effective peer review processes to uphold not only the quality and validity of individual articles, but also the overall integrity of the journals they publish. Abd Karim Alias@2011 8
  9. 9. Objective of Peer Review Process Two key functions…• Acts as a filter: Ensures research is properly verified before being published• Improves the quality of the research: rigorous review by other experts helps to hone key points and correct inadvertent errorsValidates and confirms a researcher’s work Abd Karim Alias@2011 9
  10. 10. Objective of Peer Review Process Other aims…• An essential part of the publishing process• Identify the strengths & weaknesses of ideas & approaches• Validates and confirms a researcher’s work• Make recommendations for improvement Abd Karim Alias@2011 10
  11. 11. A Brief History of Peer Review• Review by peers has been a method of evaluation since ancient Greece, although it was not standard practise in science until the mid-20th century• As early as the 17th century, scientific clubs (or societies) of gentleman scholars argued over the origin and validity of different theories and discoveries• Peer review has been a formal part of scientific communication since the first scientific journals appeared more than 300 years ago Abd Karim Alias@2011 11
  12. 12. A Brief History of Peer ReviewDid you know that…• Albert Einsteins "Annus Mirabilis" was not peer reviewed except by the journals editor in chief and co- editor?• Watson’s seminal paper on the structure of DNA was rejected by the peer review process? Abd Karim Alias@2011 12
  13. 13. Types of Peer Review1. Journal articles2. Conference proceedings3. Book manuscripts4. Grant proposals5. Teaching portfolios6. Promotion decisions7. Program accreditation Abd Karim Alias@2011 13
  14. 14. Methods of Peer Review1. Single blind -- authors do not know the identity of the reviewers2. Double blind – both authors and reviewers do not know the identity of each other. Double-blinded review provides honest and critical reviews without fear of retribution Abd Karim Alias@2011 14
  15. 15. Peer review – a gatekeeper but not perfect…Peer review is not a perfect process, butit is one of the best ways of ensuringthe quality and originality of a paper. Abd Karim Alias@2011 15
  16. 16. Peer Review Process RESEARCH PAPER SUBMITTED TO JOURNAL First assessment by editor/editorial board – Ask – Does article fits aims/scope? Is article of acceptable quality? NO? YES? Article rejected/feedback /changes requested Article sent to reviewersFeedback /changes requested REVIEWER ASSESSES ARTICLE Check for: significance, novelty, presentation, scholarship, evidence, reasoning, theory, experimental design, dataREVIEWER MAKES RECOMMENDATION TO EDITOR validation, organization, clarity, ethics EDITOR MAKES FINAL DECISION INFORM DECISION TO AUTHOR If minor/major revision, authors can revise & resubmit Abd Karim Alias@OCTOBER 2011
  17. 17. Review process• Pre-screening • Is the manuscript within the scope of the journal?• Identification of reviewers • Two or three reviewers Abd Karim Alias@2011 17
  18. 18. Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows“Owing to the very simple ratios of thenumber of submissions, the number of paperswe can publish in any given (monthly) issue,and availability of reviewers, a large fractionof papers submitted to ACS Nano must berejected without review. We receive far moresubmissions than we could ever publish, andthus it is a necessity”…“Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows" , ACS Nano, 4 (9), 4 9 6 3 – 4 9 6 4 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 18
  19. 19. Perspective: Some statistics• Elsevier publishes more than 20 journals in the food science area• In 2010, more than 20,000 papers were submitted to these journals• In 2010, 5000 papers were published in these journals Credit: Abd Karim Alias@2011 19
  20. 20. Perspective: Some statistics % increase in accepted papers USA 2006-2010 for selected countries:Malaysia 17 Elsevier Food Science Journals 2010 2006 China USA: 37% Malaysia: 196% China: 136% Brazil Brazil: 109% 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 Number of accepted papers
  21. 21. Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows Editors argue that… • pre-screening ensures that only those manuscripts that they believe to have potential to be published in the journal reach the referees; • lessening of the chances for a manuscript to dwell unproductively in an unsuccessful cycle of peer review“Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows" , ACS Nano, 4 (9), 4 9 6 3 – 4 9 6 4 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 21
  22. 22. What are Journal Editors looking for? Editors are looking for… • The “wow” factor -- a subject or theme that sheds light on and gives insight into a perplexing problem or fundamental issue; • Novelty -- how original the work is. • Clarity of presentation • Value of practical, research, and theoretical implications“Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows" , ACS Nano, 4 (9), 4 9 6 3 – 4 9 6 4 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 22
  23. 23. What are Journal Editors looking for? Editors are looking for… • Manuscripts that have been written clearly, concisely, and well and be in the correct format; • Fit with the scope of the journal? -- the appropriateness of the work for the journal. • Citability -- the paper increase the journal’s citation metrics?“Rejecting without review: The Whys, the Hows" , ACS Nano, 4 (9), 4 9 6 3 – 4 9 6 4 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 23
  24. 24. Importance of Cover Letter to Editor This is your chance to speak to the editor directly… • Mention what would make your manuscript special to the journal; • The cover letter provides the chance for authors to persuade the editors of the significance of their work in a less formal manner than what is written in the manuscript itself.“The Art of the Cover Letter" , ACS Nano, 4 (5), 2487 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 24
  25. 25. Importance of Cover Letter to Editor It could be the difference between a manuscript sent for external review and one rejected without further consideration!“The Art of the Cover Letter" , ACS Nano, 4 (5), 2487 (2 0 1 0) Abd Karim Alias@2011 25
  26. 26. Some advices from Editors "Some people who send papers ... simply send it to the wrong journal and thats becoming increasingly the case ... This can be frustrating as an Editor… “I imagine there are some people who spend their life sending their papers to journals that dont want to publish them, not because theyre not good papers but because theyre just in the wrong place."Read “How to Choose a Journal” Abd Karim Alias@2011 26
  27. 27. Reviewer’s report One bad review, one good review…The ‘bad’ one liked it but it was reallysuperficial – I don’t think theyunderstood it. The ‘good’ one didn’t like itmuch, but the review was justwonderful… Abd Karim Alias@2011 27
  28. 28. The best reviewer report…provides a thoughtful and insightfulsynopsis of the major points,strengths, and weaknesses of theManuscript reviewed.“The best referee report" , ACS Nano, 2(2), 177 (2008) Abd Karim Alias@2011 28
  29. 29. The best reviewer report…cont’…comments on…• the importance and broad interest of the subject• the novelty and importance of the work described• the extent to which data support the conclusions made• the quality of the data and the analysis presented Abd Karim Alias@2011 29
  30. 30. The best reviewer report…cont’…comments on…• the completeness of the citations• the clarity of the writing• the appropriateness of the work for the journal Abd Karim Alias@2011 30
  31. 31. Typical reviewer’s comments• Lack of clarity in writing/presentation (poor organization)• Logic of argument is unclear/vague• Author is unaware of relevant existing work• Author misinterprets existing research/theory Abd Karim Alias@2011 31
  32. 32. Typical reviewer’s comments• Flawed experimental design• Data is not convincing/flawed• Contribution to theory, research, and/or practice is not apparent. Abd Karim Alias@2011 32
  33. 33. Editor’s advice to reviewers Be critical! Read the abstract first to see if what the authors are stating makes logical sense, and if it is written in a way that is comprehensible; Is the observation made and reported in the manuscript something new? Abd Karim Alias@2011 33
  34. 34. Editor’s advice to reviewers Examine tables and figures to see if the legends are clear and if the tables and figures demonstrate the same thing that is stated in the text; Look to see if the statistical analysis seems to make sense; Examine the methods to make sure that the authors knew what they were doing; Abd Karim Alias@2011 34
  35. 35. Editor’s advice to reviewers Read the discussion and see if it makes sense and if it reflects what the data in the article report. Look for unnecessary conjecture or unfounded conclusions that are not based on the evidence presented Is the manuscript concise and well organized? Abd Karim Alias@2011 35
  36. 36. Editor’s advice to reviewers Is the manuscript full of typographical errors and/or mistakes in references that imply a sloppy job of putting the manuscript together? Subjectively, do you believe what the authors are telling you or do you suspect some consistent error in the hypothesis, methods, analysis of data, etc.? Is there some chance that there is scientific fraud or plagiarism involved in this manuscript? Abd Karim Alias@2011 36
  37. 37. Recommendation of Reviewers Rejected due to poor quality, or out of scope Accept without revision Accept but needs revision (either major or minor) If revision is required, reviewers would clearly identify what aspects need attention/revision. Sample of peer reviewer form Abd Karim Alias@2011 37
  38. 38. What “revision” means?Major RevisionThe editors believe that your article contained information ofpotential importance but a number of major issues were raised.If you believe that you can address the issues raised, the editorswould be willing to reconsider your manuscript, but cannotguarantee acceptance, particularly if you cannot address theconcerns. Abd Karim Alias@2011 38
  39. 39. What “revision” means? Minor revisionThe editors found your manuscript potentiallyacceptable for publication provided you make someminor adjustments Abd Karim Alias@2011 39
  40. 40. 3 key reason for recommending a manuscript • The manuscript was considered timely and relevant to a current problem • The manuscript was considered well written, logical, and easy to comprehend • The study was well designed and had appropriate methodologySee also “Criteria set by the journal to consider acceptance” Abd Karim Alias@2011 40
  41. 41. Surviving the peer review Abd Karim Alias@2011 41
  42. 42. Surviving the peer review• Put yourself in the reviewer’s shoes• Develop a well organized, clearly written manuscript• Write for an intelligent but not necessarily expert reader • Assume you are addressing individuals with different types/levels of expertise Abd Karim Alias@2011 42
  43. 43. Surviving the peer review• Be your own worst critic • Would an “non-expert” understand why your work is important? • Have you clearly communicated your ideas & methods? • Are your claims justifiable? • Do your conclusions logically follow from your findings? Abd Karim Alias@2011 43
  44. 44. When your paper is rejected…Good advice on what to do when paper getrejected (link) Abd Karim Alias@2011 44
  45. 45. What leads to acceptance…Attention to detailsCheck and double check your workConsider the reviewers’ commentsEnglish must be as good as possiblePresentation is importantTake your time with revisionAcknowledge those who have helped youNew, original and previously unpublishedCritically evaluate your own manuscript Nigel John CookEthical rules must be obeyed Editor-in-Chief, Ore Geology Reviews Abd Karim Alias@2011 45
  46. 46. Why is it important to write a good paper?Before submitting an article make sure it is asgood as you can make it.Not only because it makes YOUR life easy…but alsothe lives of the Editors and Reviewers…your chances of acceptance will be increased! Abd Karim Alias@2011 46
  47. 47. Why is it important to write a good paper? Don’t submit “half- baked” manuscript! Abd Karim Alias@2011 47
  48. 48. An international editorfrequently:The following problems appear much too says:• Submission of papers which are clearly out of scope• Failure to format the paper according to the Guide for Authors• Inappropriate (or no) suggested reviewers• Inadequate response to reviewers• Inadequate standard of English• Resubmission of rejected manuscripts without revisionPaul Haddad, Editor, Journal of Chromatography A 48
  49. 49. An my own publishing advice is: …and international editor says:• Submit to the right journal• Submit to one journal only• Do not submit “salami” articles• Pay attention to journal requirements and structure• Check the English• Pay attention to ethical standards• Ask your colleagues to proof read the article• Be self-critical 49
  50. 50. Abd Karim Alias@2011 50