Dear Online Open Access Editor

Do not send me threatening emails. It’s not going to end well.

When I agree to a review a manuscript and am told I have 6 weeks to submit the review, then I expect to get the 6 weeks to do it.

Do not send me an email after 3.5 weeks telling me that my services are no longer needed and threatening to spread my name as a “lazy reviewer who does not complete their reviews on time”.

You know what happens in the real world? I stop reviewing for your journal that has no impact factor. I tell everyone I know to stop reviewing for your no-name journal that nobody takes seriously anyway – I mean have you actually seen the quality of the manuscripts you send out for review? People submit their work to your journal because it’s of such poor quality that they simply can’t get it accepted into a mainstream international journal. Wake up. How do I know this? I’ve seen the same manuscript submitted to 5 different journals, all of whom have sent it to me for review, rejected every time. Yours was last on the list, and I rejected it from your journal as well. Only to see it published in your journal a few months later anyway.

As academics, we try to do our bit and help out. We do peer review on a volunteer basis in our spare time. It looks good on our CV’s. But at the end of the day, I get enough requests to review manuscripts from high impact factor journals in my field that I really have no reason to be reviewing stuff for online open access journals that contribute nothing to my track record. I wouldn’t submit my own work to your journal in a million years – not only does my university and the Australian Research Council not take online open access journals seriously and not give us credit if we do publish there, I’ve seen the work that does get published in your journal, and I wouldn’t want my name tarnished with the same brush.

If online open access journals want to be taken seriously, they need to treat their reviewers with a little more respect. If you tell us we have 6 weeks to complete a review, don’t send us threatening emails after 3 weeks. In fact, don’t send us threatening emails at all. Remember that we’re doing this for free. We are under absolutely zero obligation to do peer review at all. If you need the review within 2-3 weeks to meet your “fast turnaround” policy, make that explicit up front and don’t tell me I have 6 weeks. If my review was actually late, I could tolerate a reminder email. But sending me threatening emails before the deadline that intimate you’re going to try and ruin my reputation? Not on. Ever.

So guess what? You threaten me? You’re now a new rule in my spam filter. Isn’t technology wonderful?

No love,
Rock Doc


2 thoughts on “Dear Online Open Access Editor

  1. I second your criticism of this behavior. But you’ve identified unprofessional, bottom-feeding behavior, not “open access” behavior. There’s no reason to conflate the two, or refer to the second when you mean the first. If the journal happened to be in biomedicine, published by a non-profit society, or published in India, I doubt that you’d say, “Dear biomedical editor,” “Dear non-profit society editor,” or “Dear Indian editor.” Why not be more precise and direct, and say, “Dear rude, clueless editor”?

    BTW, I’m also glad that you made your criticism public. The best way to deter bad publisher behavior is through publicity. But for this to work as well as it could, you should name the journal and publisher — if not now, then after your submit your review. I hope you will.

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