Halloween Special: The Ghosts and Guests of Academia

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

This Halloween, our Blog and Associate Editor Chloe Robinson explains the meaning of ghost and guest authorship, and speaking from her own experiences, the harm they cause to Early Career Researchers

From a young age, we grow up understanding that authors are people that have conceived and written something, most often a book. They do the required background research, thoughtfully lay out the plot and physically complete the main task that makes a book a book – the writing. Sure, they may have editors, cover producers, social media gurus, etc. to help make their book a success, but their name is the one on the front.

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When to Identify Non-Preferred Reviewers

©Nic McPhee

©Nic McPhee

Last month we published a blog post with some tips on selecting preferred reviewers for your manuscript. It was hugely popular (if you haven’t read it yet you can do so here), so we have decided to follow it up with some advice on identifying NON-preferred reviewers (or Author Opposed Reviewers as they are now known on ScholarOne).

Unlike preferred reviewers, you are not required to identify non-preferred reviewers when you submit your paper to Methods. However, in certain cases this option is can be very useful for your manuscript. It is important not to overuse or misuse this feature of the submission system though and the below tips will help you to avoid doing this.

The Golden Rule: Always Explain Why!

It can often be difficult to decide whether to identify someone as an author opposed reviewer. While there are some guidelines that journals can (and do) offer, a lot of the time authors find themselves in the grey area between these. We understand that it is unlikely that every question you have will be answered by our guidance (although we hope that we can address at least a few of them), but there is a way around this: explain why you have made a person a non-preferred reviewer. Continue reading

The DOs and DON’Ts of Selecting Preferred Reviewers

Like many journals, Methods in Ecology and Evolution asks authors to submit a list of preferred reviewers along with their manuscript. This can be a difficult task and is often one that is overlooked or rushed when submitting. However, this list can be very important in the peer review process.

Why Do We Need Preferred Reviewers?

©Nic McPhee

©Nic McPhee

There are a number of reasons that we ask authors to provide preferred reviewers. These suggestions can be extremely useful in a number of situations. For example, if the Associate Editor is struggling to find referees for a paper, the preferred reviewers become a very valuable resource. Not only are they potential reviewers, but if they are unable to review the paper they can suggest other people who might be able to.

As Methods is a generalist journal, sometimes papers are submitted that do not fit perfectly into the areas of expertise of our Associate Editors. In cases such as these, the preferred reviewers can be a wonderful starting point for the reviewer search. Providing the Editors with a good list of experts in the subject (who they may not know off the top of their head) can make the peer review process quicker and easier for everyone involved.

While Editors are by no means required or obliged to choose the reviewers that authors suggest, the list can often be a source of inspiration. If the Editor chooses not to invite any of the preferred reviewers, they may use the suggestions to try to find people with similar expertise.

Providing a good list of preferred reviewers can speed up the peer review process and make it a much less stressful experience. So, what makes a preferred reviewer list good or bad? The DOs and DON’Ts below should help you to suggest the right reviewers for your paper. Continue reading