To paraphrase Churchill, “The peer review system is the worst system there is…apart from all the others” (“Slighted by the gatekeepers”, News, 18/25 December).
Journal editors need skin as thick as that of a rhino and nerves of steel. However, all whom I know are diligent, thorough and, above all, fair. Those qualities, however, are sorely tested by the near tsunami of submissions that most of us have to confront.
Moreover, as authors we editors also face the slings and arrows of the peer review process and feel aggrieved when manuscripts are rejected by reviewers whose views are simply wrong.
However, one must be mindful of a quote from Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel’s marvellous text How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. It is attributed to Earl H. Wood of the Mayo Clinic and expresses what authors might require: “I expect the editor to accept all my papers, accept them as they are submitted, and publish them promptly. I also expect him (or her) to scrutinise all other papers with utmost care, especially those from my competitors.”
Edward M. Winter