Open Science: Peer Review

On 23rd December 2013 I received notification that the paper Bryan Alvaerz and I wrote, “White matter microstructure throughout the brain correlates with visual imagery in grapheme-color synesthesia”, was accepted to NeuroImage.

It was the best Christmas present.

The whole experience with NeuroImage has been excellent. We had good reviewers who were polite and thoughtful. Their comments have improved the manuscript and we were accepted after one round of revisions. In our letter to the editor we thanked the reviewers for their insightful comments and I almost included a footnote: “No, really, I mean it!”.

On 24th December I sat down and made sure to pay this forward. I was asked on 18th December to review a paper, and I wanted to make sure that it didn’t get forgotten in the Christmas rush. I was given quite a tight deadline (2 weeks) and I really wanted to encourage these sorts of speedy turnarounds from journals and other reviewers.

It really sucks to be left waiting once you’ve sent your baby out into the ether.

I’ve submitted the review now, but I’d like to keep a track of how long each of these processes take. I strongly believe that scientists should be rewarded for their reviews even if they are anonymous. Peer review is the foundation that all of academia is built upon, and while it has its flaws, there’s a chance that the system we have is the best we’ve got.

However, I’d like to contribute a little to the #OpenScience movement. And to that end, I’m going to make public on my GitHub account two CSV files. One, reviews_for_me, logs all of the submissions of my papers, and the other, reviews_by_me, logs my reviews and how long I took to send them in.

Once there are more than one entry in each I’ll make a little graph of the times to review.

Even if the least it does is keep me honest and motivated, that will be enough. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll encourage others to take as much care as those thoughtful reviewers Bryan and I had for our paper.

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