I’ve been quiet for a couple of months – summer schedule and all – and wanted to get back to the blogosphere. I’ll try and be more diligent.
Many strange things have been brought to my attention over the summer, but I thought I would start with a more personal experience. That way, if anyone want’s to comment, at least one side of the equation is available.
Last spring we sent a paper in to an unnamed FT50 journal. Normally, these top journals reply within three months – at least – that has been my experience until now, for the most part. One consequence of the enhanced competitive environment is that journal editors seem to invite submissions by promising faster turn around.
In any case, a full six months went by, without hearing from the journal. As a result, I contacted the editor directly. The editor immediately responded, on a Friday, by saying “I should have contacted him earlier” and that he would ‘get on it’. By Monday, we had our rejection, along with only one review, and a note from the editor saying he was unable to get a second review. He didn’t even bother adding his own comments to the rejection letter. Needless to say, the first review was not very helpful, but that is beside the point. This little exchange once again brings me to question the authority, transparency, and lack of professionalism sometime exhibited by editors of even top journals. One cannot help wondering, given the importance of these gate-keeping roles, how it happens that we have processes that appear cavalier, with no recourse regarding accountability, transparency, appeal, or arbitration. In this particular case, my career does not hinge on the outcome – but I must report – in many cases where individual careers are in jeopardy, I have more often observed arrogance than compassion.
So, this brings me to raise an important question – and I must highlight – this question does NOT apply to Academy of Management journals, where transparency and fairness seems to be much more institutionalized.
Who appoints these people as editors?
Who governs their behavior?
Why do we allow autocratic and incompetent behavior by editors, even of prestigious journals?
In my view, we have a serious professional need for an equivalent of ‘rate my professor’ for academic journals. Such an idea was posed a few years ago in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Robert Deaner who called for a “consumer reports for journals”. We could monitor and evaluate the review process, the editorial process, the time taken, and other aspects of peer review. If anyone is interested in starting such an activity, please let me know – as I think we really need some monitoring out there.