A little respect 1

July 20, 2007

In my experience as an editor, peer reviewers generally provide a high-quality service. Now Marc Hauser and Ernst Fehr want to punish those who fail to meet deadlines ("Make all see that deadline matters", Opinion, July 6).

Most journals do not pay reviewers - they are true amateurs, refereeing for the love of their area of expertise. But they are under increasing pressure as the number of journals balloons. Any academic who agrees to review papers should be allowed to set his or her own priorities with respect to other commitments.

How would Hauser and Fehr regard my commitment in June when I reviewed papers for four different journals? The only one to show dissatisfaction was produced by a big-name publisher. It was the last paper to arrive and thus was the last I reviewed.

I am happy to say "yes" when requested to review a paper. But I'm damned if I'm going to support this latest attempt at policing a simple academic process by myopic bean-counters. If I say "no" to a journal, then it is because I have other commitments that I regard as more important, including other papers to review.

Whatever; any journal that opens a "book" on my performance as a reviewer will be wasting its time. With almost 9,000 journals on the Science Citation Index and at least as many others, I can afford to ignore all journals that seek to be excessively draconian in policing my free help.

I'll just submit my own papers to journals where the reviewers are treated with respect.

Steve Donovan
Managing editor, Scripta Geologica

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