Re: Peer Review

From: Fytton Rowland <J.F.Rowland_at_LBORO.AC.UK>
Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2007 16:21:06 +0100

Having served for 18 years as a member of staff of the RSC earlier in my
career, finishing up as Publications Prodiution Manager, I can confirm that
what Dana Roth says about their mode of operation is true. Similar styles
of operation apply at certain other large learned society publishers who
publish themselves, rather than through a commercial publisher. However,
it must be said that this way of running journals is the exception rather
than the rule. It also has to be said that established publishers, whether
for-profit or not-for-profit, tend to think that the way things have
tradtitonally been done is the way they should be done, and that change
should be very gradual. They may not be well placed to compete with
organisations that come new to the scholarly communication business and who
have no such preconceptions.

Fytton Rowland, Senior Lecturer,
Department of Information Science,
Loughborough University, UK.

Quoting Dana Roth <dzrlib_at_LIBRARY.CALTECH.EDU>:

> David Goodman recently wrote:
> "Peer review is not carried out by publishers. It is carried out
> completely by scientists--the scientists who submit the papers, the
> scientists who submit the papers, the scientists who allot them to
> referees, the scientists who do the refereeing. and the scientists who
> make the final decision on the basis of the referee's reports.
> Publishers claim to organize the process, but it has never been clearly
> shown just what they do but pay office expenses and purchase the
> software to keep track of the correspondence--and open source software
> is also available. Scientists are perfectly able to operate without
> them, and for many journals they do just that."
> Dana Roth's response:
> Having served in an advisory capacity to the Royal Society of Chemistry
> on library matters, in the past, David's statement struck me as a
> somewhat incomplete view of at least the RSC peer review process.
> The RSC employs professional in-house editorial staff members (all with
> formal training in chemistry and scientific publishing) for their
> journals, who work closely with the respective editorial boards. They
> also attend numerous scientific conferences (e.g. over 130 conferences
> in 2006) and visit research departments, and thus can be said to be
> members of the scientific communities that the journals serve.
> The majority of papers are submitted directly to the in-house Editors.
> The Editors then decide if the manuscript should be sent out for formal
> peer review. This "screening" means that the RSC's referees are not
> over burdened with large numbers of unsuitable papers and the authors
> receive a quick decision. On average, about 30% of manuscripts are
> declined prior to the external peer review. Once a paper has been
> accepted for publication it is edited for clarity and consistency, in
> cooperation with authors.
> In addition to the editorial process, the RSC web site provides both
> linking from article references and citation linking.
> A new service, 'Project Prospect', in partnership with the Unilever
> Centre of Molecular Informatics and the Computing Laboratory at
> Cambridge University, has also been launched. During the editing phase,
> articles are appropriately marked up by the in-house editors, so that
> readers can click on named compounds and scientific concepts in the HTML
> electronic journal article to download structures, understand topics, or
> link through to electronic databases. The chemical compounds and
> ontology terms will also be published as RSS feeds enabling automated
> discovery of relevant research.
> I understand how David's comments might apply to a very focused journal
> in a very narrow field, but I can't imagine very many scientists that
> would be willing to expend the time and effort to provide both the
> editorial functions and the evolving electronic distribution system
> offered by traditional publishers.
> Dana L. Roth
> Millikan Library / Caltech 1-32
> 1200 E. California Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91125
> 626-395-6423 fax 626-792-7540
Received on Sun Apr 08 2007 - 17:14:00 BST

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