Monday, November 27, 2006

To Review or Not to Review

Yesterday I wrote that I wasn't going to do any manuscript or proposal reviews other than the ones I had already promised to do. I have too many other things to do -- proposal, conference, teaching, editorial work, a major committee assignment that involves my reading hundreds of pages of text (including nearly 100 letters of reference), and I've already reviewed probably 20 papers this year (I am going to calculate this later -- maybe it just feels like 20?).


Today I was asked to review a manuscript for a journal for which I currently have 2 of my own manuscripts in review. I SHOULD do this review. As a general policy/philosophy, I say yes to journals if I have a paper submitted there myself. It just seems fair. So, I will do this review, but it might take a few weeks.


Anonymous said...

So I guess you don't subscribe to the school of thought that states: "Grad students do the best reviews!"?

I wonder if grad students are harder reviewers than their professors though? They have more time to be critical and to read previous literature, but they might not want to shoot down someone their professor likes as a colleague.

Anonymous said...

Hence the motivation behind double-blind reviewing (about not shooting down their advisor's colleagues). I guess it's not common in the physical sciences?

Anonymous said...

I have never, ever, ever understood why any peer review is not double-blind. I do not understand how reviewers can do a better job by knowing authors' identities. I do not understand how science as a field gains by the added bias that comes with identity, in peer review. It's a pet peeve of mine.

Ms.PhD said...

Agreed that double-blind review would be best. Second best is the opposite: reviewers' names are published, too.

Agreed that grad students are the toughest reviewers, but not for the reason anonymous states.

Grad students don't understand the limitations of money, time, technical hurdles, etc. and tend to propose ideal and undoable heights to which authors should aspire.

Having said that, though, I think science would in general be better if all papers were reviewed by grad student idealists!

But the way it stands now, it doesn't matter if the grad student shoots down a colleague of their professor- the PI edits the review and signs their own name, so if you say anything too negative, it probably gets deleted before the editor sees it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Double-blind peer review is impossible, as in almost all cases it would be trivial to tell from the scientific content whose research group a particular manuscript emanates from even if the authors are not listed.