academics, as seen from vegreville. it can be cold here. and it is flat.

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What the hell have I been doing this (academic) year?

  • Manuscripts accepted: 2
  • Manuscripts under review: 1
  • Revise and resubmits to do: 3
  • Working papers: 3
  • New projects: 2
  • Conference presentations: 2
  • Seminars given: 1
  • PhD students in progress: 5
  • PhD students completed: 0
  • Other students supervised: 2
  • Courses taught: 0
  • Courses scheduled: 4
  • Referee reports to write: 2
  • Referee reports completed: 17
  • Committees: 3
  • Angry co-authors: 0
  • Angry students: ?

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Slow academic publishing

This post (at or breaking into the academy) discusses the speed, or really slowness, of academic publishing. It certainly is the case that papers take forever to make it into print from first submission. Even if things go well.

But is that really bad? Does it really slow things down that much? I notice in my field that I often see many good papers at seminars and conferences long before they are in print. Publication is the final certification stage. And working papers are so freely available on the web that you do not need to wait for publication to see the paper anyway. So what is the cost of the delay? Waiting for the certification?

I would imagine that much of the delay is in the refereeing. And that is a finite resource. How could we speed it up? How costly would it be?

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link | posted by vegreville at 10:34 PM |


Blogger academic coach commented at 12:50 AM~  

Good Points

And thanks for your helpful comments about writing over at Bitch Ph.D.

Blogger mungowits commented at 11:00 AM~  

I'm an editor now, myself, at Public Choice.

The speed thing is a terrible problem.

And I feel an obligation, because I am aware I am using up time on the clock for junior people.

So, I have been leaning towards saying no, and not sending papers out for review, if I think there is little chance of the thing being accepted.

Still....I worry. Referees take forever.

Blogger vegreville commented at 4:03 PM~  

One of the journals that I review for actually publishes each referee’s average turnaround time. And pay a lot for completed review—- both with $ and with a coupon for a part of a free submission. Of course, if you are fast, you get better treatment yourself, too.

Blogger MKB commented at 8:15 AM~  

Sorry I'm just finding this, but I don't think you trackedback, which is why it took so long.

I think it depends on the field. The premier journal in my field can take 18-24 months from original submission to acceptance and then because they publish so few articles per issue, it can take another year to three years AFTER ACCEPTANCE before the article is seen by the public.

I'm in a technology field, so assuming that I get by with the least amount of time you will be able to read a manuscript that I submit today (04 June 2006) hopefully by December 2008. If the reviewers are a little slow or if I have major changes to make after the reviews or if I am unluckly enogh to submit at a time when they are getting a surge of good article, then you'll be reading about my ideas in June 2011.

Let's hope that the technology isn't dated by that point, andlet's also hope that the ideas are still fresh by that point, and let's hope that I even still believe in those ideas (i.e., haven't refined them further based upon the additional studies that I can undertake in the next two and a half to five years).

If you read the additional pieces that we (Nate, Heather, myself, and others) have been writing, it isn't the length of time that the review procss takes - well it is to some extent, as it shouldn't take 12-18 months to have a 20-30 page manuscript reviewed - it is largely the time it takes after something is accepted to the time that it actually shows up in print. And with today's technology, the read/write web, and the ability to get immediate feedback from a larger circle of peers and then publish immediately, a two and a half to five year process is not acceptance.


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