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Hypermedia Online Publishing: the Transformation of the Scholarly Journal

5.2.2 Peer review

The most rigorous model of peer review (or refereeing) is the so-called 'double-blind' peer review. Submitted articles are sent to two or more reviewers, and neither the reviewers or the author are aware of each other's identity. This is the traditional form of quality control in p-journals and provides a filtering/gatekeeping/censorship function, depending on one's perspective. This process has been criticised for the delays it introduces into the publishing process. Such delay can be broken into five components:

  1. the time the paper takes to get from the journal office to the referee
  2. the time the paper sits in the referees' in-tray before they begin to review it
  3. the time taken until the referees have completed this review process
  4. the time the paper takes to get from the referees to the journal office
  5. any further time required to resolve discrepancies (if any) between referees' reports

On the face of it, faster communication through email will only be of assistance in those steps involving the transport of the paper (1 and 4). There is some anecdotal evidence that people feel a subtle pressure to respond to email quicker than paper mail, which may assist in step 2 as well.

Email is gradually becoming more and more widespread and in developing countries an increasing proportion of professionals will have access to it. It is quite feasible to attach electronically submitted manuscripts (minus any identifying information if blind refereeing is being used) to an email message to referees and receive responses in the same way. If the referees wish to annotate the received article they have at least two choices. Adobe's Acrobat Exchange product can be used to create annotations to a PDF file. A number of journals are starting to experiment with this. Alternatively, current versions of Microsoft's Word product allow for embedded annotations within a Word document. A detailed proposal for editing a journal through email (although based on ftp and Postscript rather than email and PDF) is contained in [Appel, 1996].

Last modified: Monday, 18-Sep-2017 03:27:11 AEST

© Andrew Treloar, 2001. * *