As an editor, you’ll appreciate the amount of effort that goes into the peer review process and why unfortunately, manuscripts don’t simply go into the peer review system and come out the other end with a decision to accept, revise or reject.
For one thing, there are many people involved in the process: you as an editor, a team of associate editors, an administrator, the reviewers, the Electronic Editorial Systems Team, your Taylor & Francis Managing Editor, and so on.
For another, there’s plenty of intricate parts to keep everyone busy, from taking care of the initial checks, to assigning the right associate editor, finding enough willing reviewers, assigning reviewers, and keeping an eye out for ethical issues along the way, not to mention the actual task of writing the review. It’s no wonder that peer review takes time. But what do authors think?
Peer review turnaround times: expectation vs reality
Our recent white paper, Peer review: a global view, which gathered opinions from over 7,400 researchers worldwide via an online survey and focus groups, found:
- 91% of HSS authors consider up to 2 months a reasonable amount of time to wait after submitting their manuscript to peer review before receiving feedback…yet 56% of authors report waiting longer than this.
- 95% of STM authors consider up to 2 months a reasonable amount of time to wait after submitting their manuscript to peer review before receiving feedback…yet 40% of authors report waiting longer than this.
The term ‘black box’ often comes up in the discussion around peer review. It seems that, sometimes, it isn’t always clear to authors who and what exactly is involved in the process, and how much work it actually takes. The above discrepancy may be a symptom of this.
Published author and our very own Development Editor, Imogen Clarke confesses:
“When I was submitting papers as a PhD student, I never really thought about what was going on behind the scenes (and this is despite the fact that a lot of my research looked at the history of peer review itself!) I think I always just pictured my papers patiently sitting in a peer review system, waiting for somebody to click a button, or buried in a reviewer’s inbox for months. Working in publishing has really opened my eyes up to all the different steps involved, and I now realize that a whole team of people are working hard to get papers reviewed as quickly as possible.”
Opening up the black box
We want to help bridge the gap between the expectation and reality of peer review and shed light on all the work that goes on behind the scenes. In an effort to do this, we’ve put together a handy peer review picture for you to share with the researchers who publish in your journal.