a simple way to speed up the journal review process
One of the main problems of scholarly publishing is that it takes too long. One reason is that there is simply no competition for articles. Since journals have a “single submission” policy, you are giving each journal a monopoly right to your publishing until they have the time to reject your paper. Not surprisingly, journals treat you like garbage. Personally, I once had an editor lose a paper twice (!), papers rejected after editors appoint entirely new reviewers, endless demands for revision from editors who won’t structure the revision process, and so forth. I can take rejections, but don’t string me around. You are wasting my time if there isn’t a decent chance you will take my paper.
I think there is one simple way to improve the journal process: abolish the “single submission” rule. In other words, submit the paper to as many journals you want at the same time until you get an accept. If multiple journals offer to publish, then you choose where it goes.
A while back I suggested this and people responded in a negative manner. But consider this:
- You can submit applications to as many colleges as you want.
- You can submit applications to as many grad programs you want.
- You can submit applications for as many jobs as you want.
- You can submit funding applications to as many agencies as you want.
- You can submit book manuscripts to as many publishers as you want.
And they all work. The system does not break down. In all cases, you simply negotiate multiple offers if they happen and choose one.
The only reasonable objection is that reviewers may be overloaded. That is a response with a simple answer. If a reviewer is asked to review a paper more than once, they either decline the review (clicking a link in an email) or clip and paste the old review. If you are worried that journal editors will be overloaded, you can add some simple restrictions to lighten the load. For example, authors can only submit one paper every six months. Or if a paper is accepted, you can’t submit for another six months. Perhaps the simplest solution is a submission fee, which is used in many fields. In other words, reviewer overload is easy to solve. Journal overload is also quite solvable. There is no reason to maintain single submission and its abolition will quickly improve academic journal publishing.