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Taking back control of portable peer review: Charlesworth Knowledge can empower your re-submission process


Everybody is familiar with the peer review process in academic journal publishing; you do some research, you select a target journal, you write up a paper, you submit. Then you wait. Often for months.  While other people, ‘experts in the field’ evaluate and comment on your work at the request of your target journal. You’ll then need to respond to these critiques and revise your paper accordingly, or manage and handle rejection.


Your paper might not even make it out for peer review: On the other side of the fence (the online submission system), a journal editor checks your article for style and content versus specific guidelines and makes an initial decision whether, or not, to send your work outside for external comments. Did you know that many high-ranking journals reject papers without even sending articles out for peer review? This rate can be as high as 90 percent in some of the leading, most prestigious outlets.


Once out for review, the waiting game begins. Please bear in mind that the average time across the industry between submission and online publication is about 90 days, so don’t feel you just have to sit and wait for review comments to come back from your journal editor: engage with this process. Don’t be afraid to write politely worded enquiry emails asking about the status of your paper and suggesting additional reviewers, if needed. At Charlesworth Knowledge we are always ready to help and advise with this process, even provide templates for emails you can send.


Comments come back and then the work begins again to revise your paper, hoping for final acceptance and eventual publication. More often than not, though, articles are rejected. Our role in this process can then be to help you manage rejection and successfully re-submit your article to another journal, similarly high profile.


Authors often find that the the next stage of the publication process can be a little soul destroying: re-formatting and re-submitting to another journal and then waiting for a second round of peer review comments. This process can actually be circumvented if the comments already received about papers are passed from one journal to another, so-called portable peer review. This is not a new idea but has recently been in the news again as one leading biology outlet has recently announced a ‘new policy’ of portable peer review. Some journals are formalising but this is actually more common that you’d think. And its also a process that authors can engage with, and even control, although this is very done very infrequently.


One problem is that this process has proved unpopular with authors in particular: researchers worry that if their work has already been rejected by one journal then simply passing review comments on to the next will decrease, rather than increase, their chances of eventual acceptance. There is something in this concern: starting a new submission from a negative perspective (‘this paper was reviewed by another journal but was rejected and here are the comments to aid further decision-making’) is not necessarily all that motivating. We understand


But: what about taking control yourself of portable peer review as an author? We can help you with this process at Charlesworth Knowledge.


Imagine: You’ve submitted a paper to Journal x and been rejected but have received some useful and constructive comments and are preparing re-submission to Journal y. You might not want all of the review comments from your first submission to just be passed onto your second, so why not make the decision yourself? At Charlesworth Knowledge we can help you prepare an enticing and alluring cover letter that performs a number of functions: first, to capture the editor’s attention to convince them that your work is interesting, engaging, and worthy of peer review. Secondly, why not tell the editor that your study has already received one round of constructive review from another journal and that you have been working to make changes to your work to improve the science.

You are in a good position because you are open to changing your study and ready to make revisions. Plus, an editor will be keen to learn that your work has already passed once through the journal system: at Charlesworth Knowledge we can help you manage the portable peer review process and turn rejection into a positive for your manuscript in process.


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