Saturday, November 2, 2013

Growing old while waiting for journals to do something

Maybe I didn't realize how lucky I was when I got quick turnarounds from the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. I had an article accepted in a journal in May, and six months later, no word about editing, proofs, or anything. I emailed the editor, who replied that the manuscript was waiting for production (maybe their Production Editor is named Godot??).

This is not an archaeology journal. It is published by Routledge. I was asked if I wanted to have the paper posted "online first." I thought they meant that the completed typeset article, in pdf format, would be posted online prior to the issue date of the print journal. Great, they will start editing my paper. But no, it means that the paper gets posted RIGHT AWAY, in its unedited manuscript format. I guess that's a good thing. I'm not really fond of these early postings, unless it is something I am desperate to read (not too many of those, I'm afraid). The manuscripts take up way too many pages, and they are ugly and unedited.

I guess I should tip my hat to the journal Nature. They rejected one of my papers in less than 12 hours! I posted it in the evening, and when I signed on the next morning, my rejection was already in hand. Wow. I'm sure they scrutinized the paper and carefully evaluated its strengths and weaknesses in those 12 hours. Maybe they have a talented robot. This makes me appreciated the journal PLOS-One, where their claim is that papers get reviewed by peers, not selected by clueless editors who know nothing about the topics of papers (well, they don't use the word "clueless"). This is from their website:

Too often a journal's decision to publish a paper is dominated by what the Editor/s think is interesting and will gain greater readership — both of which are subjective judgments and lead to decisions which are frustrating and delay the publication of your work. PLOS ONE will rigorously peer-review your submissions and publish all papers that are judged to be technically sound.

The problem is that as an author-pays science journal, it would cost over $1,200 to publish in PLOS-One.

Well,, I have now been rejected by both Science and Nature. Maybe I should put that on my CV: "Rejected by the best journals in the world!"


Colleen said...

Great to hear from someone being very open with their journal successes and...not-so-successes. I just had an article bounced from JAMT and my feelings were a bit hurt even though I know that it happens to everyone.

To submit to the next journal down the line I have to cut out over 2k words. oh well.

Michael E. Smith said...

Colleen - Academia requires a thick skin. In the past two years, I think I've had more rejections than acceptances with journal papers. This is a bigger problem for younger scholars, for whom getting published in a timely fashion is more important. Only one paper (so far), however, required more than two submissions.

On a general level, I find it disheartening to see so many bad papers get published, while good papers get rejected.