A post last week dealt with a topic related to my work as an editor of a journal. Some commenters raised issues about editors and reviewers, and I decided to discuss at least one more editor-related topic this week.
But first, here are some links to previous posts about editors and reviewers:
Musings on the topic of rejecting manuscripts without review (2009, 2010 posts)
What do I look for in a review? (a post for those lacking confidence in their reviews)
What do editors do? (an introduction to different types of editorial work for journals, and musing about the role of editors in the peer review and publication process)
If you click on the "editor" tag in the frame to the right (you have to scroll down a bit), you can find other assorted editor-related posts, some of them stranger than others.
Now on to the new topics:
From the comments in last week's editor-themed post:
When I review papers for journals where I usually publish, I always wonder if the fact that I'm a good reviewer (on time and constructive) helps me with the editors whenever I make my own submissions. I am not implying I am expecting a freebie, but I always wonder if editors are more patient with authors that are good reviewers for the journal and less patient with people like the one you described in your comment.
In the comments last week, I described more specifically a case involving a delinquent reviewer who strung me along with promises for turning in his review, and then never did the review. In the situation involving the delinquent reviewer (with whom I communicated mostly by e-mail but also by phone, at least until he stopped communicating with me), I was (and am) so annoyed by this person's behavior that I would not be able to be objective about any manuscript he submitted to the journal; someone else would have to deal with his manuscripts. This does not place him at any disadvantage relative to any other author; his work would be evaluated on its own merits by other qualified editors. Even if he is a jerk (says me), he and his co-authors (some of whom are likely to be students) have a right to a fair evaluation of their work.
Do constructive and punctual reviewers have any advantage? Sort of, but maybe not directly. I do try to provide speedy and useful editorial assistance with the submitted manuscripts of hard-working reviewers, but there is of course no preference in terms of the decision about publication. However, even if conscientious reviewers don't derive any obvious direct benefit from being diligent, I think that there is some cosmic credit and long-term benefit from being respected for their work and professionalism. Many journals are edited by people who write a lot of external letters from tenure and promotion and who organize sessions at conferences (and therefore make decisions about invited speakers and so on). You can't build a career on being a diligent reviewer, but it is a good thing overall be considered a respected colleague who provides insightful comments in reviews.
Other examples of possible long-term consequences:
I can think of at least one person whose annoying behavior as a reviewer has meant that I have been unreceptive when he has expressed interest in working with me on various projects. If I think someone is uncommunicative and unprofessional in their work as reviewer, why would I want to work with them in any other capacity?
Furthermore, the delinquent reviewer described in the anecdote mentioned above (and in more details in the comments in last week's post) is an assistant professor. If asked to write an external letter for his tenure and promotion, I could probably set aside my annoyance with him and focus on his research record, but I hope I am not asked to do so. No one should be denied tenure (or receive tenure) because of they are a bad (or excellent) reviewer, but it one small but important aspect of professional service.
Question for my readers, especially those who have served in some editorial capacity: Do you let your opinion of someone as a reviewer affect your interactions (direct or indirect) and opinions of them as a researcher?
4 days ago