Article

Publication rejection among ecologists

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Abstract

Few people enjoy rejection under any circumstances, but if you are a scientist and you receive a rejection letter from a journal, then, is it time to abandon research, or do all scientists experience such rejection to some degree? Here, we quantify the extent to which a sample of ecologists with the most successful publication careers has experienced manuscript rejection. We show that publication success and manuscript rejection are not strangers, and we hope that this will encourage ecologists (particularly research students) to continue submitting their studies for publication.

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... The probability of a response was the same for the other three geographic regions (χ 2 = 0.98, df = 2, P = 0.81). Respondents published a total of 2907 scientific papers in journals during the decade 1990–1999, of which 450 (15.5 percent ) had been rejected by at least one journal and 224 (7.7 percent) by at least two (Cassey and Blackburn 2003 ). The average number of research articles that an individual author published in the 1990s was 55, with one author publishing the maximum amount of 250.Figure 2 shows the percentage of articles that were published at first submission, at second submission, and after multiple submissions during this decade. ...
... The average number of research articles that an individual author published in the 1990s was 55, with one author publishing the maximum amount of 250.Figure 2 shows the percentage of articles that were published at first submission, at second submission, and after multiple submissions during this decade. On average, 22 percent of a respondent's articles were rejected at least once (Cassey and Blackburn 2003 ). Only one respondent claimed that none of the 14 articles he published in the 1990s was first rejected and then subsequently accepted (and even this scientist still had at least one article that remained unpublished from that period). ...
... Responding authors had on average 2 articles still unpublished after this period, with one author having 10. Respondents who published more articles in the 1990s had a lower percentage of published articles that were accepted without being rejected at least once (coefficient [coeff] = –0.75, standard error [SE] = 0.15, P < 0.01; Cassey and Blackburn 2003) and a higher total number of articles from the 1990s that remained unpublished (coeff = 0.59, SE = 0.26, P = 0.03). Those who were full professors at the time of the survey had a lower percentage of articles accepted without being rejected at least once (77 percent) than those who were tenured researchers (87 percent) or emeritus professors and retired researchers (85 percent) (coeff = –0.39, ...
Article
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Scientific rejection is a frequent part of the publication process that is rarely explicitly discussed. Peer review is an essential and well-established part of the scientific method. But to what degree is manuscript rejection indicative of scientific inadequacy? Here we quantify the extent to which a sample of scientists with successful publication careers in our discipline, ecology, have experienced manuscript rejection. We show that publication success and manuscript rejection are definitely not exclusive. Notably, we find that the ecologists with the highest number of publications also suffered the largest proportion of manuscript rejections. Rejection is not easy even for the most successfully publishing ecologists; however, manuscript rejection does not seem to have deterred our respondents or to have hampered their career advancement. We hope that our results will encourage ecologists (and particularly research students) to continue submitting their studies for publication.
... That can make them particularly sensitive to criticism, especially if it is in error, self-promoting, rude or insensitively phrased. As Rosenfield and Hoffman (2009;p. E301) expressed it: 'Although this feedback is usually helpful, it can also be incomprehensible, rude or plain silly.' Reviewers, however, are chosen for their knowledge of the subject and their established track records, so they are likely to be busy people taking time from demanding schedules to review with limited opportunity for remuneration or recognition (Smith 2016), although the advent of Publons (Smith 2016) does provide a systematic avenue for recognition and some publishers may offer discounts on page charges or other incentives (Gasparyan et al. 2015). ...
... Authors are, though, looking from a very personal perspective and may be inclined to rationalise manuscript rejection as a result of poor reviewing. For example, Cassey and Blackburn (2003;p. 376) noted that 'rejection is still not easily taken among even the most successfully publishing ecologists, and appears to be swallowed with sour grapes.' ...
... The observed results would be changed only if more than 85.5% of papers showing biodiversity recoveries had been systematically rejected for publication in all peer-reviewed ISI indexed journals, clearly an overestimate of the average rejection rate for the field (Peters 1991). Also, according to Cassey and Blackburn (2003) most papers rejected at first are published later, sometimes in a lowerranked journal. Thus, the very high rejection rate needed to change our conclusions is even more unrealistic under Cassey and Blackburn's (2003) findings, although this effect of initial rejection could create a difference in average impact factors of journals that publish papers supporting or rejecting biodiversity crisis. ...
... Also, according to Cassey and Blackburn (2003) most papers rejected at first are published later, sometimes in a lowerranked journal. Thus, the very high rejection rate needed to change our conclusions is even more unrealistic under Cassey and Blackburn's (2003) findings, although this effect of initial rejection could create a difference in average impact factors of journals that publish papers supporting or rejecting biodiversity crisis. ...
Article
 Lomborg's (2001) book has generated passionate discussion about the state of the global environment. We performed a bibliometric evaluation of the peer-reviewed primary scientific literature to determine whether there is any consistent evidence that “things are getting better.” The global literature primarily reported negative impacts on biodiversity caused by human actions, although Europe appeared to be doing better than the rest of the world. These results cannot be explained by publication bias alone because rejection rates of papers indicating improvements in the environment would have to be unrealistically high to change our results. There were nonrandom distributions of papers showing environmental recovery in developed countries and for ecosystems not strongly subjected to conservation-development conflicts. Although the literature did not paint a picture of universal gloom, the empirical evidence clearly showed growing environmental crises.Resumen: El libro de Lomborg (2001) ha generado una discusión apasionada sobre el estado del ambiente global. Hicimos una evaluación bibliométrica de la literatura científica primaria revisada por pares para determinar si hay evidencia consistente de que las “cosas están mejorando.” En primer lugar, la literatura global reportó impactos negativos sobre la biodiversidad a causa de acciones humanas, aunque parece que Europa está mejor que el resto del mundo. Estos resultados no pueden explicarse solo por sesgos de publicación porque las tasas de rechazo de artículos señalando mejoras en el ambiente tendrían que ser muy altas para cambiar nuestros resultados. Hubo distribuciones no aleatorias de artículos que muestran recuperación ambiental en países desarrollados y en ecosistemas no sujetos a conflictos conservación – desarrollo. Aunque la literatura no pintó un panorama de desesperanza universal, la evidencia empírica claramente mostró el crecimiento de la crisis ambiental.
... If objective assessment of potential publication by others is one of our principal activities, then the effect of experience as referees needs critical examination, particularly since assessment could be balanced by selection of different categories of referees if they exist. In several instances, it has been shown that ecologists who publish more papers experience higher rejection rates of their manuscripts [3,4]. Here we ask: when ecologists change hats and act as reviewers, do they also vary in predictable ways in the rejection rates that they recommend? ...
Article
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We show that when ecologists act as reviewers their reported rejection rates recommended for manuscripts increases with their publication frequency in high impact factor journals. Rejection rate however does not relate to reviewer age. These results indicate that the likelihood of getting a paper accepted for publication may depend upon factors in addition to scientific merit. Multiple reviewer selection for a given manuscript therefore should consider not only appropriate expertise, but also reviewers that have variable publication experience with a range of different journals to ensure balanced treatment. Interestingly since age did not relate to rejection rates, more senior scientists are not necessarily more jaded in reviewing practices.
... Peer review is a valuable process that is central to ensuring scientific quality, yet it continues to be scrutinized in the natural sciences (Gura 2002) and has been a topic of recent interest in biology (Tregenza 2002, Cassey and Blackburn 2003, 2004, Grimm 2005, Leimu and Koricheva 2005). Research has shown that peer review can be sexist (Grant et al. 1997), nepotistic (Forsdyke 1993), and biased with respect to the national language of the authors (Bakewell 1992 ) and the prestige of the authors' institutions (Garfunkel et al. 1994). ...
Article
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Peer review is the standard that journals and granting agencies use to ensure the scientific quality of their publications and funded projects. The peer-review process continues to be criticized, but its actual effectiveness at ensuring quality has yet to be fully investigated. Here we use probability theory to model the peer-review process, focusing on two key components: (1) editors' prescreening of submitted manuscripts and (2) the number of referees polled. The model shows that the review process can include a strong “lottery” component, independent of editor and referee integrity. Focusing on journal publications, we use a Bayesian approach and citation data from biological journals to show that top journals successfully publish suitable papers—that is, papers that a large proportion of the scientific community would deem acceptable—by using a prescreening process that involves an editorial board and three referees; even if that process is followed, about a quarter of published papers still may be unsuitable. The element of chance is greater if journals engage only two referees and do no prescreening (or if only one editor prescreens); about half of the papers published in those journals may be unsuitable. Furthermore, authors whose manuscripts were initially rejected can significantly boost their chances of being published by resubmitting their papers to other journals. We make three key recommendations to ensure the integrity of scientific publications in journals: (1) Use an editor or editorial board to prescreen and remove manuscripts of low suitability; (2) use a three-of-three or four-of-four decision rule when deciding on paper acceptance; and (3) use a stricter decision rule for resubmissions.
... However, little attention has been paid to variations among journals in their reputation, number of submissions received and time from submission to acceptance. Given the increasing rejection rates of many journals (Fisher and Powers 2004), submissions are now frequently resubmitted elsewhere after rejection, and thus reviewed by journal after journal (Cassey and Blackburn 2003). This trend is increasing the overall time from idea to dissemination and the burden to editors and reviewers (Anonymous 2008) so that there is a widespread feeling that the system is on the verge of collapse (Hauser and Fehr 2007;Hochberg et al. 2009), in spite (or because of) the new electronic technologies available. ...
Article
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Peer review is fundamental to science as we know it, but is also a source of delay in getting discoveries communicated to the world. Researchers have investigated the effectiveness and bias of various forms of peer review, but little attention has been paid to the relationships among journal reputation, rejection rate, number of submissions received and time from submission to acceptance. In 22 ecology/interdisciplinary journals for which data could be retrieved, higher impact factor is positively associated with the number of submissions. However, higher impact factor journals tend to be significantly quicker in moving from submission to acceptance so that journals which receive more submissions are not those which take longer to get them through the peer review and revision processes. Rejection rates are remarkably high throughout the journals analyzed, but tend to increase with increasing impact factor and with number of submissions. Plausible causes and consequences of these relationships for journals, authors and peer reviewers are discussed.
... But not only novices get rejections, Cassey and Blackburn (2003) found that about one fifth of submissions by top researchers in ecology are rejected the first time around. Nor is this the end. ...
Research Proposal
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Journal of English for Research Publication Purposes is now accepting submissions. Editors: Pejman Habibie & Sue Starfield Journal of English for Research Publication Purposes provides a scholarly venue for the construction and dissemination of discourses related to the fast-expanding field of English for research publication purposes (ERPP). This helps academics and practitioners working in (sub)disciplines such as Applied Linguistics, EAP, ESP, Education, and Writing Studies to communicate their relevant scholarly works and perspectives with international members of their community of practice, keep current with the new discourses and practices within and surrounding this domain, and contribute to the further enrichment and development of this field of scholarship. The Journal publishes conceptual and empirical articles, book reviews, and academic discourses and exchanges on a wide range of topics including writing for scholarly publication, graduate writing, pedagogy of ERPP, writing centers, mentorship, ERPP teacher education, international policies and practices related to ERPP, evaluation and review processes, discourse analysis of academic output, needs analysis, ERPP curriculum design and materials development, research communication support services, and international ERPP initiatives and programs. Those interested can use the editorial management system of the journal to submit their manuscripts.
... Others studied the impact of manuscript rejections in scientific communities. Cassey and Blackburn quantified the extent to which a sample of ecologists with the most successful publication careers experienced manuscript rejection [8]. Woolley and Barron reflected on the fact that rejections hurt but are not necessarily fatal, due to their finding that at least 50% of rejected manuscripts, if pursued are published within a time frame of 2 years [54]. ...
Conference Paper
Requesters on crowdsourcing platforms typically exercise the power to decide the fate of tasks completed by crowd workers. Rejecting work has a direct impact on workers; (i) they may not be rewarded for the work completed and for their effort that has been exerted, and (ii) rejection affects worker reputation and may limit their access to future work opportunities. This paper presents a comprehensive study that aims to understand worker moods and how workers react to rejections in microtask crowdsourcing. We experimentally investigate the effect of the mood of workers on their performance, and the interaction of their moods with their reactions to rejection. Finally, we explore techniques such as presenting social comparative explanations to foster positive reactions to rejection. We found that workers in pleasant moods significantly outperform those in unpleasant moods. Workers whose work is rejected due to narrowly failing pre-screening tests exhibited the most negative emotional responses.
... Data of use and occupation of soil, hydrology and meteorology are relatively easy to obtain: direct observation and measurement in the field or by searching on free public databases of higher education, research institutes or independent and non-governmental organizations whose are reliable. Many manuscripts are reject for publication or even not submitted because they have not found significant correlations with limnological parameters, however this fact can not be a reason to abandon these data (Cassey & Blackburn, 2003), because other patterns can be found using other data sources. Although they may be spurious, these correlations can not be ignored because they reflect, even if indirectly, the effect of variables scarcely measured among those traditionally analysed by limnologists. ...
Article
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Catchment basins are importants study units for establishment of policies of management and conservation for aquatic ecosystems. Reservoirs are artificial environments directly influenced by physical, chemical and biological processes to which these catchment basins are submitted. These influences determines biological communities in reservoirs. Many studies have established the relationship between zooplankton community as bioindicator of water quality. In this context, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of physical and chemical variables of water and the use and occupation of land in zooplankton community of São Simão Reservoir (MG/GO). Samples were collected in two seasons (dry and rainy), in stations located in arms at left margin (Minas Gerais State), right margin (Góias State) and in main channel-limnetic zone of São Simão Reservoir. Most of physical and chemichal parameters did not exceed limits of water quality and Trophic State Index showed values between 39 and 48, classifying São Simão Reservoir as ultraoligotrophic or oligotrophic. Zooplankton community was dominated by Rotifera and Copepoda with higher densities in stations at right margins of reservoir. Cala-noida/Cyclopoida ratio classified 18 of 22 sampling stations as oligotrophic in the dry season, however only 7 in the rainy season. The first Principal Component Analysis, considering the physical and chemical parameters, showed no correlation with main zooplankton groups. However, in the second one, considering the use and occupation of land, it was possible to verify the effects of human activities around the reservoir on zooplankton community (74.3% of explanation), where higher densities of microcrustaceans were observed in stations with more fishery structures, macrophyte beds and drowned original vegetation, in addition to extensive areas of agriculture, cattle ranching or human occupation, predominant on the right margin of São Simão Reservoir in Goiás State. Although they may be spurious, these correlations can not be ignored because they reflect, even if indirectly, the eutrophication process which this environment is submitted.
... Explanations include potential changes in ambition levels by women due to the nature of the graduate academic environment (Sears 2003) or differential success in securing doctoral or post-doctoral funding (Bornmann and Daniel 2005). More proximate examples include differences between journals (in ecology and evolution) in the rejection rates of papers by gender (Tregenza 2002) or an alarming lack of female respondent authors (6% of a total of 151 ecologists) in a major poll of reasons for rejection of papers (Cassey and Blackburn 2003, 2004). Preliminary evidence for general biases in the publication process independent of gender include differential citation frequency based on initial letter of surname (Tregenza 1997), individuals with more previous publications having lower percentages of articles accepted on first submission (Cassey and Blackburn 2004), and biases where authors choose to submit papers based on the statistical significance of their studies (Koricheva 2003). ...
Article
Bias, or any set of factors that influence the general expression of merit, is common in science and is an inevitable by-product of an imperfect but otherwise reasonably objective human pursuit to understand the world we inhabit. In this paper, we explore the conceptual significance of a relatively tractable form of bias, namely publication and dissemination bias. A specific definition is developed, a working model of classification for publication bias is proposed, and an assessment of what we can measure is described. Finally, we offer expectations for ecologists with respect to the significance of bias in the publication process within our discipline. We argue that without explicit consideration of both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of publication bias in ecology, we limit our capacity to fairly assess and best use the science that we as a community produce.
... We define publication bias as the situation in which the merit of a manuscript is evaluated using factors tangent to its intrinsic characteristics as a scientific work (Fig. 1). It has been observed that male authors attract more citations than female authors (Cassey & Blackburn 2003, 2004. This relationship was shown to be insignificant in the works of Leimu & Koricheva (2005) and Borsuk et al. (2009) in an analysis of publications in the field 2 About this discussion, according to Figa-Talamanca (2007:86): "The impact factor is undoubtedly very strong. ...
Article
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A collective obsession with the Impact Factor (IF) has led to major changes in political science in many countries, and in recent years, these changes have been especially visible in Brazil. Despite critiques of both this measure’s ability to evaluate the scientific publications and its spread in the evaluation of researchers and institutions, Brazil has taken the IF as an important element in evaluating Brazilian graduate programs. In this article, we briefly try to demonstrate that the IF can be subject to many biases that seem to be completely ignored or unknown.
... Data of use and occupation of soil, hydrology and meteorology are relatively easy to obtain: direct observation and measurement in the field or by searching on free public databases of higher education, research institutes or independent and non-governmental organizations whose are reliable. Many manuscripts are reject for publication or even not submitted because they have not found significant correlations with limnological parameters, however this fact can not be a reason to abandon these data (Cassey & Blackburn, 2003), because other patterns can be found using other data sources. Although they may be spurious, these correlations can not be ignored because they reflect, even if indirectly, the effect of variables scarcely measured among those traditionally analysed by limnologists. ...
Article
Full-text available
Las cuencas de captación son importantes unidades de estudio para el establecimiento de políticas de manejo y conservación de ecosistemas acuáticos. Los embalses son ambientes artificiales directamente influenciados por procesos físicos, químicos y biológicos a los que se someten estas cuencas hidrográficas. Estas influencias determinan las comunidades biológicas en los embalses. Muchos estudios han establecido la relación entre la comunidad del zooplancton como bioindicadora de la calidad del agua. En este contexto, el objetivo de este estudio fue evaluar los efectos de las variables físicas y químicas del agua y el uso y ocupación de la tierra en la comunidad de zooplancton del embalse de São Simão (MG/GO). Las muestras fueron recogidas en dos períodos (sequía y lluvia), en estaciones en los brazos del margen izquierdo (Estado de Minas Gerais) y margen derecho (Estado de Góias) y en el canal principal región limnética del embalse de São Simão. La mayoría de los parámetros físicos y químicos no superaron los límites de calidad del agua y el Índice de Estado Trófico presentó valores entre 39 y 48, clasificando el embalse de São Simão como ultraoligotrófico u oligotrófico. La comunidad del zooplancton caracterizase por la dominancia de Rotifera y Copepoda con densidades más altas en las estaciones a los márgenes derechos del embalse. La razón Calanoida/Cyclopoida clasificó 18 de 22 estaciones de muestreo como oligotróficas en la estación de sequía, pero sólo 7 en la época de lluvias. El primer Análisis de Componentes Principales, considerando los parámetros físicos y químicos, no presentó correlación con los principales grupos de zooplancton. Sin embargo, en el segundo, considerando el uso y ocupación de la tierra, se pudo verificar los efectos de las actividades humanas alrededor del embalse en la comunidad de zooplancton (74.3% de la explicación), donde se observaron densidades más altas de microcrustáceos en estaciones con más embarcaderos, bancos de macrófitas y la vegetación original ahogada, además de extensas áreas de cultivos, ganadería u ocupación humana, predominando en el margen derecho del embalse de São Simão, en el Estado de Goiás. Aunque pueden ser espúrias, estas correlaciones no pueden ser ignoradas porque reflejan, aunque sea indirectamente, el proceso de eutrofización que este embalse se somete.
... Their core role is to publish good papers based on solid research. It may sound simple to the uninitiated, but this is a challenging task (Cassey & Blackburn 2003). Academics are also increasingly asked to make their work count to a wider society, as a publication in itself does not make the research applied or applicable. ...
Article
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