[Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of specimen records from BOLD

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Sep 23 18:09:41 CDT 2015

Actually, just to give a real life example (names withheld), to illustrate a point, the following real example speaks volumes about what goes on around here: 

A taxonomic entomologist, whom I rate rather highly, was recently put under pressure from his employing institution to "perform better" (=publish more and bring in more external funding). The entomologist submitted a manuscript to a local journal. The manuscript was more ecological than is usual for a taxonomic entomologist author. From an ecological point of view, it was all over the place, with major revisions needed. I was asked by an ecologist reviewer to assist them to review the manuscript. We had to make recommendations for major revisions, despite our sympathies for the author's predicament. Apparently, the author completely "spat the dummy" and "threw a hissy fit" about our review, calling it "nitpicking"! That was some time ago, and the paper has not (yet) been published. We risked getting ourselves offside with the author, rather than compromise our integrity as reviewers.

On Thu, 24/9/15, Bob Mesibov <robert.mesibov at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Pre-submission peer-review and online import of specimen records from BOLD
 To: "Thorpe, Stephen" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "TAXACOM" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Thursday, 24 September, 2015, 10:25 AM
 Hi, Stephen.
 "In the real world, particularly for small taxonomic
 communities, it often happens that a reviewer is a close
 colleague of an author, and this relationship influences the
 way that the review is handled. It can easily (but by no
 means always) result in only cursory attention being paid to
 the review, and an unwillingness to be seen to be
 "nitpicky", given that the author will likely be a reviewer
 of future manuscripts of the present reviewer. Life is
 easier for both parties if critiques are kept to a
 My experience as a reviewer and author over the past 25
 years isn't like that. 'Nitpickiness' (a good thing in
 reviewing) is a characteristic of individuals, not
 communities, and I (as author) and colleagues (as authors)
 have been grateful to have mistakes pointed out and
 improvements suggested. This has been the case regardless of
 whether the reviews were signed or anonymous.
 The quality of a review, it seems to me, is mainly dependent
 on how much time the reviewer can afford to spend looking
 carefully through the manuscript. Experienced reviewers have
 developed tricks to make their reviewing quicker, and
 hopefully ARPHA will allow those tricks to be used without
 too much extra effort.
 Dr Robert Mesibov
 Honorary Research Associate
 Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
 Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
 Home phone: 64252630 [61 3 64252630]

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