Roles & Responsibilities of Peer-Reviewers

Peer-Review Process

Peer Review is an influential process of academic journal publication. All Manuscripts are Peer Reviewed by the subject experts.

Before a scholarly work is published or approved, it is reviewed by a group of experts in the same field to ensure that it meets the appropriate criteria.

Stages of Peer-Review

Did you know the Process of Peer-Review?

Initial Check

It is done by the Editor who reads & approves the manuscript for Peer Review Process. The manuscript may be rejected at this level.

Editor-in-chief Review

Experts evaluate the manuscript and see if the scope of the journal is well defined and interesting.

Assigned to Editor With Subject Expertise

Experts who have subject knowledge related to the manuscript evaluate the manuscript.

Peers / Referees

The experts who check the manuscripts are known as Peers or Referees. They check the following things:

  • Quality & Significance of the Manuscript
  • About the Research topic – if it is Interesting and Important
  • Sound Methodology
  • Arriving at Logical Conclusions
  • Checking the Findings are original

Review Return

The Peers give a high-quality review after evaluation of the manuscript.

Editor’s Final Decision

Editors decide if the manuscript is worthy of publishing or not. If approved, they may recommend revisions to the Authors.

Responsibilities of Journal Editors 

Have you ever wondered what Journal Editors do in Peer-Review?

Roles towards Authors 

  • Providing constructive feedback promptly on the scholarly merits and the scientific value of the work.
  • Providing specific suggestions for improvement and stating the details of the journal in a Cover Letter.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of the review process.

Roles towards Editors

  • Informing the editor immediately if unable to review.
  • Following the editor’s comments and creating an abstract if required.
  • Determining scientific merit, originality, importance & clarity of the hypothesis and scope of the work and indicating ways to improve it.
  • Providing Critical Assessment – Strength & Weakness of Introduction, Methodology, Data Analysis, Results, Discussion & Conclusion.
  • Checking the formatting of the Manuscript and instructing if it is not in proper order.
  • Looking into Internal Consistency of the Manuscript, Writing Style & Figure/ Table Presentation.
  • Checking the Appropriateness of References, Title, Abstracts, and Conclusions.
  • Ensuring that the manuscript adheres to the journal’s guidelines.

Roles towards Readers

  • Assuring that the methodology and results of the review are easily accessible to the readers.
  • Citing sources to assist readers in gathering knowledge about the journal.

Conclusion

The Editor’s decision is crucial in the publication of a journal. The Author, Editor, and Readers are all subjected to peer review. Academic journals rely heavily on peer review for publication.

To conclude, the purpose of Peer Reviewers is to

  • Select the manuscript for the journal
  • Determine the Originality of the manuscript
  • Improve the quality of the published paper
  • Ensures previous work is acknowledged
  • Determine the importance of findings

The best Peer Reviewers tend to view themselves as Mentors rather than Critics.

Professional help for a Rejected Manuscript

Getting a journal rejection is never easy. Even though rejections from editors or requests for revision from peer review is a very common happening in the publishing world, it is always a challenge for an author to rework their manuscript for re-submission.

This is where a professional editor and proofreader can help immensely. In today’s world of hectic professional schedules, it is often not feasible for academicians to keep reworking on their manuscripts and more and more authors are now engaging professional services for the same. Even though engaging such professionals obviously involves monetary expenses, there are some key factors why they offer real value for money.

Streamlining of revisions: A rejected manuscript with revisions suggested by peer-review can often be a complex document to work on. It requires proper mapping of the changes required and tracking of the progress of revision. This is where a professional editor can be invaluable. Editors are experts in keeping track of changes/edits and streamlining revision processes. A professional editor can list all the issues, demarcate which areas will require your intervention and which all can be handled by the editor or a proofreader, and help streamline the entire revision process.

Language correction: more often than not, journals reject manuscripts for language-related problems. In most cases, the problems are basic grammatical errors or mistakes in spelling and punctuation or something more advanced like awkward or confusing phrases, failure to observe consistency, improper referencing leading to confusion over terminologies used, etc. A more overarching challenge is the inability of the author to clearly communicate their message within the strict limitations of word count, formatting structure, etc. A professional proofreader can help ease much of these pains. They also bring a critical third person’s perspective of a reader and are better able to identify the problem areas than the author, who is often too deeply engrained to notice such issues.

Technicalities: many a time an author gets lost in the complexities of formatting requirements. Journals have very specific instructions about formatting. This ranges from alignment, referencing syntax, how to label or edit images and graphs, referencing and citation formats, etc. All these technicalities often prove to be confusing for an author whose primary focus is obviously the main content. A professional editor or proofreader on the other hand is more attuned to handle such technical details.

Subject specialization: Often peer-reviews ask for certain technical revisions that require subject specialization. This in turn means that authors require help or advice from their peers or subject experts on these matters. Today, professional editing services offer subject experts advice as well. These experts have the added advantage of having worked on manuscript submission with most journals and therefore have a much clearer understanding of what the editors or reviewers require. They also serve as perfect proxies for potential readers of the article and can offer better insights on the manuscript than most.

A professional editor or proofreader services offer end to end services at every stage of a publication process and are a potent tool for an author.

Understanding manuscript evaluation by high impact journals

Every academician wants to publish their articles in high impact journals. This in turn makes it extremely challenging as all such journals are flooded with submissions. In fact, for many of these journals, it is a challenge for the editorial team to select suitable articles to publish from the sea of submissions.

As an author, while you already have clarity of what you want to convey via your article, you also need to understand what the editorial board of a high impact journal is looking for to publish. Therefore, it is important to understand the manuscript evaluation process of such journals.

What is manuscript evaluation: Essentially, A manuscript evaluation is an in-depth, developmental, and structural manuscript editing report developed by the editorial team of a journal. It provides a bigger picture of the manuscript by deeply analyzing its many facts and is shared by junior editors with senior colleagues. The manuscript evaluation covers technicalities, like whether the manuscript follows author guidelines, whether proper citations, indexing, and data labeling have been done, etc. All these can be covered by proper manuscript editing at the end of the author before submission.

The other critical aspect of manuscript evaluation is the qualitative assessment of the article. This looks into the structure and organization of the article, the clarity of ideas espoused, the brevity and consistency of the language in which it is written.

Do your basic hygiene check: every author must focus on manuscript editing to ensure a basic standard before submission, especially to high impact journals. Articles written badly, with poor language or paragraphing are automatically rejected. The manuscript should have a clear point of view of the research and should deviate in course of the narrative. Structure and organization of the article, be it in terms of sections, paragraph construction, the flow of a narrative from one section to the other, must be well planned and executed.

Evaluate your work from an editor’s point of view: any editor of a high-impact journal is very conscious of maintaining the high impact quotient of their publication. Therefore, they are not only looking for good quality papers but are also keen to publish papers that they feel will be widely quoted and cited. Therefore, they are also assessing the impact factor of your manuscript. Some of the criteria they have are:

  • Will other researchers be interested in reading the study?
  • Does the article match the journal’s present audience, or help reach out to newer audiences?
  • Does the importance of the advances offered in the article up to the standards of the journal?
  • Does the manuscript add additional value to any discourse or does it just add noise to an already busy field of study?

When you write your manuscript, relook it from the editor’s point of view and check if your research meets these criteria.

Lastly, do remember that it is only after the Chief Editor has passed your manuscript will it be shared for peer review. So, you need to clear it with editors before a field expert actually evaluates your article.

HELPFUL TIPS ON FORMATTINGJOURNAL ARTICLES BY OBSERVING THE GUIDELINES

Submitting a manuscript for journal publication requires an author to strictly follow guidelines suggested by the journals. Failing to follow guidelines leads to the rejection of the manuscript, which is obviously undesirable for any author. Therefore, it is imperative that these formatting guidelines are followed very carefully before submitting an article.

Here are some key pointers to be aware of while formatting a manuscript as per journal guidelines.

The structure of the manuscript: Check carefully the different sections and structure required by the journal for submission. Journals often have specific instructions for Cover page, Excerpts, Executive summary, Abstract, Appendix, References, etc. Not all journals ask for all such sections. For instance, one journal may request for a short abstract, while others may ask for a bit longer executive summary. It is important to follow these instructions as per requirements. Usually, all journals require a cover letter along with the submission as well. Follow instructions on the format for a cover letter if specified.

Referencing: A critical component of any academic article is its references. Strictly follow referencing guidelines of a journal as prescribed in the guidelines. Some journals may request inline referencing, references in footnotes, while others may request for end text references. Moreover, the format of referencing is also critical. There are some general conventions of referencing and most authors are well versed in them. However, it is imperative that you follow the one specified by the journal for its manuscripts.

Formatting: every journal has specific instructions for formatting. Often, journals have different formatting requirements for different stages of the manuscript. For instance. Some journals may request double spacing for the manuscript they require for peer review, while the final print document may be single spacing. Font, font size, spacing, paragraph specifications are some of the key focus areas for formatting.

Diagrams and tables: diagrams and tables are an integral part of a scientific publication, and often manuscripts have a plethora of them. Check the title requirement, size requirement, formatting details for charts, etc for diagrams. A common mistake often done by authors is about the colours used in their diagrams and charts. If the journal does not support coloured printing, your charts and diagrams have to design in black and grey monochrome. You not only have to careful to change the colour tone as per requirements but also ensure the charts and diagrams are distinctive and easy to read in those colour tones.

Word Count: The importance of word count needs to be reiterated. Every section of the manuscript may have word counts and need to be adhered to. If the journal asks for an abstract of 250 words; you need to draft an abstract within 250 words. The same applies for every section, chapter, etc. as may be specified.

Most importantly, read the instructions for each journal carefully. Authors often rehash one submission for another journal; so be careful not to mix up the instructions. The same article for different journals needs to be formatted from scratch to meets each journal’s specific requirements.

NEW IDEAS AND EXPANDING YOUR THOUGHTS FOR PUBLISHING

The field of research and academics is an exciting field because one gets to work on new ideas and areas of research. One follows a career in academics to explore new boundaries or uncharted areas of study. However, at the same time, it is an irony that the procedural rigor of the field of academics often restricts researchers in their thought process. Formalized structures, following pre-determined procedures and protocols, the overall academic grind, etc. are often factors that restrict authors in their ideation or focus areas.

The key to successful publishing is offering new insights and ideas. However, to do that, one needs to engage with such new ideas to effectively come up with a focus that can be explored further.

Here are a few tips on how to expand one’s thoughts and get new ideas to work upon which can then eventually be published.

Read other’s works: The best way to engage in new ideas is to be updated on the work been done by others in your field. Read about the latest theories being explored, the new methodologies being adopted, the new questions doing the rounds. Reading other’s work also helps trigger one’s own thinking process; how would you approach the problem? Would you do anything differently? A good article can often be the best trigger for one’s own work.

Go interdisciplinary: One way to open your mind to new ideas and perspectives is to delve into interdisciplinary studies. Conventional Concepts and approaches from your discipline may be unusual or entirely new in another; and you may be surprised to find the same ideas being explored from a different perspective. Interdisciplinary studies are extremely popular for publication and authors actively reach out for collaboration with experts from related fields to help expand their own focus area.

Attend conferences and seminars: Often busy academicians only attend seminars or conferences where one is invited to present one’s paper. However, for a good academic professional, attending conferences and seminars on one’s area or related areas is a critical source of inspiration. Remember, most researchers usually present a paper in these events before going for a publication. Thus, you can engage with new ideas at a much earlier level at such events. These events also allow you to engage directly with your peers which too helps one’s understanding.

Refresh your own presentation:  you need not seek new ideas and approaches if instead, you are willing to shift the focal point of analysis or how you present it. Engage in paper editing of your own work from a reader’s perspective and you will discover several lacunae in your arguments. Star looking at things not from a researcher’s perspective but someone who seeks to develop upon what you are offering. It often helps to seek expert advice on one’s own work. Reach out to peers and ask them to read your work, discuss with them how you can improve upon it, revisit your own work through their eyes and you will have new ideas to work on.

HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH PAPER A PERFECT FIT FOR A JOURNAL

Getting a research paper published in a journal is difficult given the high level of competition. There are numerous scholarly authors producing excellent research papers and good journals are flooded with manuscripts from which they can pick and choose. The editors of reputed journals are always keen to improve upon the impact factor of their journals and therefore pick and choose from applications only those articles that they feel add value to their journals. For a successful journal publication, as an author, you have to offer manuscripts that will appeal to the publisher and at the same time showcase your expertise as a researcher.

Here are some tips on how best to write a research paper fit for a journal publication

Focus on the right journal: There are numerous journals in any specific field of study and all such journals try to differentiate themselves from each other in order to gain relevance and higher impact factor. Identify the differentiating factor each journal tries to develop, the type of articles or publications they tend to give preferences to, the topics they are presently focusing on, and so forth.

It is advised to form a list of journals based on background research and sort them in terms of not only preference (in terms of impact factor) but also relevance to your work. One way to develop it is by reading articles published by these journals, checking how many of your references are from these journals, etc.

Work smart: You have to offer a journal publisher not only good content but also something that adds value to their publication. Check recent issues for topics similar to your research area.; Have they published something too similar and may perhaps reject your work as being repetitive? Or perhaps there is a series of publications as part of a vibrant academic discourse taking place in a journal in which you can add some value?

Stick to basic: Every journal has its own specifications for formatting, article style, charts, and data-work, referencing, etc. it is imperative that you do thorough background work to ensure your research paper meets all these criteria. Remember, publishers are first to reject any article that does not meet their formatting guidelines and you should not give them such an excuse to reject your article.

Introduce yourself: Many authors underplay the importance of a good cover letter. The role of your cover letter is to convince an editor that your research work is worth publishing in their journal. Always refer to the scope and aim of the journal and why you think your article is a good fit for the journal. Refer to the journal audience or letter to editors that you might have come across on the topic to cite greater relevance if you can. This also reflects your level of engagement with the journal as an academician.

Remember, it is always better to have some back-up journal as well and a similar exercise needs to be done separately for that publisher to increase chances of publication.

Formatting tables, graphs, and other visuals in your research paper

The format in which you present your research data is very important because it helps you communicate your data to your reader and editors in the best possible way. We always recommend to use a good Data Management in order to keep all your date organized. 

Although there are many formats in which tables, graphs, and other figures can be presented, you need to choose the best format for your category of data, provided it is within the prescribed guidelines of the journal you are targeting for publication. Before reviewing a paper, many journal editors and reviewers first glance at the layout of the manuscript in terms of its text, tables, figures, and illustrations. Therefore, to make your presentation effective while presenting a large amount of information, a suitable distribution between text, tables, and figures comes handy.

How to use

Sometimes using too much text can get tiresome and confusing, making the reader lose interest or miss data. So encapsulating the information into visual representations can help summarize your analysis. Centralizing the important findings will help readers get the outline without reading the whole manuscript. However, excessive use of visuals can hinder the flow of text and make the whole presentation abrupt. To achieve the highest impact, a proportionate combination of text and visuals always pays off.

Understanding the message

The intension of using a chart, graph, or table is for one of four primary reasons. One illustration might be intended to show a relationship, while another wants to show the composition of a dataset. A third visual could be plotting distribution of data, while a fourth could be comparing various data points. Therefore, you need to understand the objective of the visual before choosing the format; one format may justify one goal but might not fit another.

A relationship is the correlation and connection between the variables of the data presented, like the value of a particular share today versus the value over the year.

A composition is the set of all variables present in the manuscript to make a conclusion, like the total sale of your product, sale online, sale in retail, and direct sales.

A distribution is a representation of all the correlated and non-related data to determine the connection and pattern if any, and the interaction between the variables.

A comparison is the process of finding out the similarities and differences between sets of variables.

Best format for you

Graphics are best for putting your point forward while tables work fine for providing a structure to numerical information. Different formats that work best for various situations are:

  • A bar chart or bar graph shows correlation between distinct categories. One axis shows the particular categories being compared, and the other axis depicts a calculated value. Some bar graphs show bars bunched together in groups of more than one, showing the values of multiple measured variables.
  • Pie charts are generally applied to represent the rate and proportionality of information, and the rate of percentage depicted by every category is marked next to the corresponding portion of the full pie.
  • Line graphs can be used for more than one variable to show the change over time simultaneously.
  • Scatter plots and line graphs are alike, as both use horizontal axes and vertical axes to plot data information points. Scatter plots are used to show the degree to which one variable is affected by another variable, or the connection between them.

Publication Cycle: An Overview

Every manuscript submitted to a journal has to progress through the complete publication cycle before it finally gets published. The publication cycle takes genesis with the research idea. The researchers take this idea to a new horizon by conducting experiments, taking into account the previous publications that deal with similar topic. The research draft is then submitted to a journal that is followed by the assessment, reviewing, and further production processing before being published. Let’s discuss the different phases in detail so that we can get a bird’s eye view of the entire publication process.

How publication cycle works?

After the manuscript is submitted, it is first screened by the Editor-in-chief; if rejected, the paper is returned to the author, and if accepted, it goes to the next level. Here, the paper is checked for plagiarism, and conformity to the journal guidelines. Once the manuscript clears this technical round it is then sent for review by a panel of reviewers, who are subject experts. Here, the reviewers either reject the paper for lack of novelty or other reasons that might be study specific or they could either accept the paper or suggest revisions before acceptance. The paper with revisions is sent to the Editor-in-chief for approval, before being sent for a second and final round of review. At times, the paper gets rejected even after coming this far. If the paper is accepted it then goes through the in-house publication process, before finally getting published.

Some journals forego this time taking and tedious process and instead publish all manuscripts after checking it for novelty, relevance to the field of study and compliance to the style guide of the journal. This ensures a shorter review time and faster publication.

How long can a publication cycle run?

The publication cycle time of a journal cannot be assessed unless and until it is specified by the journal. Hence, it is difficult to know which journals have a fast publication cycle. Some journals take months before they give their first decision whereas some let their first decision known in a couple of weeks. Generally, the time gap between submission and first decision varies between 2-3 weeks.

What if the publication cycle is slow-moving?

The slow decision process becomes mentally tasking for researchers, as they spent many anxious months and even years before they actually get to know if their manuscript has been published or not. If their manuscript does not get published they have to again go through the same process of preparing their manuscript according to the guidelines of a new journal, submit it there and again wait for its decision. This cycle sometimes goes on for a few years before the manuscript gets published. In this process sometimes it so happens that the relevance of the paper or the research gets outdated by the time it is accepted for publication, thereby making the efforts of the researcher futile.

It is for these reasons that the researchers earnestly want a fast publication cycle, where they do not have to wait for so long to get a decision on their manuscript. Also, the publication houses are trying their best to formulate ways to make the publication process faster so that good and relevant researches do not become irrelevant. However, the authors need to be aware of the millions of predatory journals luring them for publishing within a very short duration. The authors are the best person to judge their options and choose the one that helps their research best.

Proper Citation: A Key Norm in Academic Publishing

What to Cite?
Academic publishing is important for the career enhancement of every researcher. A long string of publications under the belt of a researcher not only performs the constructive role of filling gaps in existing research, but also enhances the chances of the researcher being cited by other researchers. The number of times your research work is cited indicates the impact of the study in your research field.
Researchers usually draft their own investigations in the light of discoveries of other researches. In the process, it is vital for these study findings to be recognized as standalone researches by maintaining a strategic distance from issues like copyright infringements and plagiarism. To walk this academic tightrope, researchers take care to refer to previous studies by presenting the thoughts of the first researcher in one’s own writing and by referring to the earlier publication. Other than recognizing the work of different researchers, the citation process also helps readers discover the source article and refer to it to acquire more data or details.
The advent of the World Wide Web and the Internet has helped the process of identifying fitting, reliable, and logical scientific information and using it in one’s research with proper citations. The researcher takes recourse to online search tools, for example Google Scholar or PubMed, to gather information about publications revolving around the proposed research area. To disentangle the mass of search results, it is important to sieve research articles that could form part of the critical reading list.
Demonstrating In-Text Citing
The purpose of referencing or in-text citation is to give credit where it is expected. There are various reference style guides and it is up to the researcher and the requirements of the target journal to choose the most suitable one. If it’s a book citation, the author needs to consider the detailed referencing guidelines specific for books. In case of a thesis, the concerned university will have a favored reference style that needs to be followed. In case of research journals, one needs to visit the author page to peruse “Instruction for Authors.” Here, the author would get a bird’s-eye view of the required referencing style along with the in-text citation style. Once the reference style has been chosen, it is critical to remain faithful to the reference style in a consistent manner throughout the manuscript.
Here are three ways to use in-text research citations.
– Name-Year format: The surname of the first author is mentioned, followed by the publication year in brackets after the text.
For e.g.:
(Smith, 2017) or “Huron et al. (2017) stated that the tumor regeneration process was…”
– Citation-Sequence and Citation-Name: Both these citation styles are widely used by many journals. These two mainstream referencing styles are fundamentally the same. In both, in-text referencing is a number that compares to the full reference in the reference list. In case of Citation-Sequence, the number relates to every article’s ordered appearance. In case of Citation-Name format, the list of sources is arranged alphabetically. For example, if the primary article referenced in the manuscript was a work of Smith (an anonymous author name), this paper would be doled out the number 1. In the numbered book reference, if Citation-Sequence style is used, Smith would be the primary reference in the reference list. If Citation-Name style is used, the reference list would be arranged alphabetically, and the in-text number assigned to Smith would relate to whatever position Smith has in the reference list.
Hence, it is vital for a researcher or author to follow the reference style guide in an organized manner. Notably, footnotes are by and large not utilized as a part of logically written scientific work. Besides, there are style guides that demand abbreviating the journal names. For e.g.: International Journal of Civil Engineering can be abbreviated as ‎Int. J. Civ. Eng.
Fortunately, there are currently many reference management tools accessible to researchers and scientists. These tools assist academic research in maintaining consistency in reference citations with an assortment of style guides. Few examples are Mendeley, Zotero, EndNote, and Papers. These are additional reference directories, which are purchasable. However, all these reference managers also offer scholarly or understudy discounts.
Academic Publishing, Academic Research, Authors, Researchers

Conceptual Research: Analytics for Researchers

Scientific research is often classified as conceptual or empirical research. Conceptual research is often considered as research of pen and paper, which basically deals with concepts and theories. Whereas empirical research deals with direct observation or experimentation. The modern scientific method presents a combination of both the research types.

What does conceptual research offer?

Conceptual research is the preferred method for analysis in the field of social sciences, psychology and philosophy. However, this kind of research also plays a significant role in scientific research fields by providing theoretical support to practical findings. It describes the studied phenomena and provides answers to many scientific queries: What causes a particular disease? Which are the causative organisms? How can we describe planetary motions?

For answering these queries, there is no need of experiments; rather, a researcher collates previous researches to find a solution to these problems.

Benefits of conceptual research

This is the initial phase of a research and involves the development of research ideas. During this time period, a researcher spends time critiquing existing literature and identifying the knowledge gap that needs to be addressed by the current research. This enables the researcher to understand the scope of the research problem, state of the science and the literature gap. A researcher can easily break down a theorem or concept into its constituent parts to gain a better understanding of the deeper philosophical issue concerning the theorem. Through this, a general framework for data analysis can be built, which can be used by the researcher to devise an appropriate outline of the possible courses of action.

Conceptual research is a comparatively broad idea representing the conceptual context on which the study is based. It explains how various terms have been used in the research. In a nutshell, this kind of research is mainly used in qualitative studies and takes the researcher closer toward empirical research.