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Rebecca Burdine @rburdine1
, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Some thoughts on reviewing submitted manuscripts. I am one of those reviewers Twitter complains about. I take longer than 10 days, routinely. I try to get to these as quickly as I can. Why does it take me so long? There are a lot of reasons. /1
When I review a paper in my field, it can take me 2-3 hours if it's a topic I know well. I read every word. I check the methods. As much as I despise supplemental data, I read every word. I look at all the figures and legends carefully. I make notes of little things to fix. /2
Then I sit back and ask myself what the paper tried to tell me. Then I assess if I think the data, as presented, supports the conclusions. Is there data I am not comfortable with? If so, why? Is it my lack of understanding? Or is there a flaw that needs to be fixed. /3
I don't think it is my job to rewrite the paper, or request 6 months of new experiments, or disagree with their premise or conclusions if they are sound. I may not like it, but it isn't my place to argue against something because I don't like the message. /4
If it is going to take a lot of experiments to get the paper into acceptable shape, I will say so. But if it's in good shape as is, publishing is better in most cases, than adding 10 more supplemental data pages. /7
Then I spend time writing my review and editing my review. Is my tone polite and helpful? Are my comments meaningful and in the spirit of making the paper better? Are my comments understandable? /6
I think reviewing is a contract between me and the future readers, especially those outside the field. I'm supposed to give this paper the hard critical look so that when it is published, you the reader can be assured it was properly vetted and discussed. You can trust it. /7
Now if it's a bit tangential to my field, that takes longer because I have to do more background reading and digging to be sure I'm on point. Maybe half a day if I am lucky. Same thing goes for grants I review. It take time to do it thoroughly, and the grantee deserves it. /8s
So it drives me crazy to turn in my reviews, especially when a paper is flawed, and see three sentence reviews from the others saying things like, "Needs major revisions" but no clear directions on what to revise. Or "Isn't acceptable" but doesn't say WHY this is so. /9
They may have been on time, and the editors and journal can congratulate themselves on a rapid turnaround from submission to review - but the paper wasn't reviewed IMHO. I'm not even sure it was read completely! /10
Yes, I take more time, but I am trying to do a complete job and help the authors. I get others may be able to do a wonderful job in 10 days, so this isn't a diatribe about people who are faster than I am. It's about those who may be faster, but didn't really do their job. /11 fin
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