Peer review and manuscript management in scientific journals

Peer review and manuscript management in scientific journals: guidelines for good practice by Irene Hames is published by Blackwell in association with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP). It is, quite simply, immensely helpful book: it is comprehensive, thorough, and practical.

The book begins with introductory issues – what should peer review do? what does peer review assume? – and an outline of the basic process of peer review. It then leads the reader through the main topics and issues pertaining to peer review. These include the obligations and responsibilities of the people involved in the review process and also the issue of misconduct.

Chapter 4 – ‘The full review process’ – provides, in a few dozen pages, a succinct overview.

Chapter 7 – ‘Reviewers – a precious resource’ – is a gem: it covers, in a mere seven pages, the following:

  • thanks and feedback to reviewers;
  • reviewer training;
  • ways to recompense reviewers;
  • how to develop and maintain reviewer loyalty;
  • recognition of peer review as an accredited professional activity.

Appendix I – ‘The golden rules and the peer-review good practice checklist’ – is extremely practical. Appendix II – ‘Examples of checklists, forms, guidance for reviewers and editorial letters’ – is a treasure trove for journal editors.

Why, when I compiled the Monographer’s Bookshelf (my list of best books on publishing), did I not include this book? Well, to be honest, I quite simply forgot! I first read the book in 2009, when preparing university courses on peer review – I found this book the single most helpful resource. I should have included it on the ‘Bookshelf’.

When, after having compiled that list, I wrote an overview (‘Publishing on publishing‘), I commented: 

Publishing on publishing is jaded. Some of the books on the list – notably BookmakingBook Commissioning and AcquisitionCreative Economy, and From Pitch to Publication – are showing their age. We need books to replace them by authors who have started their careers in more contemporary settings. The same is true of many books that didn’t make the list.

Peer review and manuscript management was published in 2007. Much of the book remains as useful now and it was then – I don’t think one could call it jaded. But the landscape of journal publishing is changing fast and no doubt if the author was writing the book afresh today it would look a little different. The topics dealt with in Appendix IV – ‘Alternative models of peer review’ – now require a fuller, more integrated, treatment. I hope that, before too long, there will be a new edition.

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One Response to “Peer review and manuscript management in scientific journals”

  1. […] Irene Hames, Peer review and manuscript management in scientific journals […]

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