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draft of a petition for multiple submission

A few weeks ago, I suggested that we could speed up reviews by having “multiple submission” in sociology. Submit to as many journals as you want, when you want. Here is a draft of a petition for the ASA:

“Academic journals are central to the discipline of sociology. Our journals disseminate research and direct debate. The modern journal system in sociology has a draw back: it can take years for articles to be accepted for publication. Authors submit manuscripts to a journal and wait months, sometimes years, for a reply. Some journals prefer a system of extensive revision so that years can pass between initial submission and final decision.

“We petition the ASA to institute ‘multiple submission’ as a policy for its journals. Modeled on the journal system in some other disciplines, the idea is simple. An author may submit to as many ASA journals as desired. Editors then manage peer review in the way they see fit. Upon receiving reviews, they offer an invitation for revision or acceptance for publication. If an author receives more than one offer of acceptance, they will contact other journals to determine if other editors are interested in the manuscript.

“The ASA has a flagship journal, the American Sociological Review. We recognize that the ASA has an interest in highlighting the most compelling research in this venue. We suggest that the American Sociological Review retain a ‘right of first refusal.’ If a paper is submitted to the ASR and any other ASA journal, then the author has an obligation to inform the editors of the ASR and give them the option to publish the paper.

“Multiple submission exists in the world of law journals and a modified form exists in many physical sciences. It works – publishable articles can be accepted within a year, or less, rather than multiple years. This proposal is simple and easy to implement. Thank you for your consideration.”

Purpose: Keep proposal simple and direct. Add your revisions in the comments.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 8, 2016 at 2:56 am

19 Responses

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  1. I’m in.

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    Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

    March 8, 2016 at 3:00 am

  2. NO. Why don’t you just review the articles you are sent and encourage your minions to do the same? Multiple submission just compounds the problem by having people getting the same fucking article in their reviewer cue. Indeed, many assholes are already doing this, and yes, they are often getting busted because people like me are getting the same fucking article from multiple journals. Multiple submission is a problem, not a solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    sherkat

    March 8, 2016 at 3:01 am

  3. The ASR right of first refusal (RoFR) clause destroys the entire proposal. The aim is to make journals compete for the best papers. You don’t do that by allowing the flagship journal to let all the other journals do the hard work of vetting and then lose the article to ASR on prestige alone. Make ASR earn its prestige by doing a better, faster, vetting of papers.

    As a quick aside, prestigious law reviews do not have right of first refusal, they only have the right to speed up their review if an author informs the review of a received offer at some other law review. And, the law review that made the offer can put a time clock on it. Not everything about law reviews matches sociology, but the essence is competition, and that’s what the proposal for multiple submissions is about. Allowing any journal RoFR undermines competition and just makes all the other journals have little reason to speed review, because they’ll just lose the best papers to ASR.

    Liked by 1 person

    HopefulLurker

    March 8, 2016 at 4:28 am

  4. Sherkat: I have minions and the system is pretty slow as is.

    Hopeful: I actually believe you are right, but I am hoping that this version will make it more palatable to ASA pub committee.

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    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 4:49 am

  5. Hopeful: Follow up thought, the ASR will only take 5%-10% of papers in a given year, so the number of papers poached from other journals will have to be small. Small price to pay for a vastly more efficient system.

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    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 5:44 am

  6. Fabio, we know enough about society to know that 5-10% of the cases can still drive behavior. Why? Because no one knows what case (paper) will fall into that 5-10%. Most authors will want to be in that 5-10% and many will believe the paper in question is (or will be) in that 5-10%. Most editors won’t want to make a big push to get reviews back on a promising paper, only to have it swiped by ASR at the last second not by having a quick review process but simply “because.” So, it doesn’t matter that its only 5-10%. Its a high-profile, coveted, “I’m editor of NOTASR and I’m not gonna do all this work to be burned again” set of papers.

    The proposal collapses with RoFR.

    Like

    HopefulLurker

    March 8, 2016 at 5:51 am

  7. Hopeful:

    We do have data. In the first thread, a few commenters pointed out that RofFR exists in the physical sciences. If true, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal there.

    And you also make an erroneous assumption. There is no reason to think that Soc of Ed will lose 5%-10% of papers. The papers ASR wants will be spread among many disciplines. Having run a journal myself, I suspect that a healthy specialty journal (100-200 submissions per year) might see at most a few papers poached – of 200 submissions, you might want to publish 40. Of those 40, only a few will simultaneously get accepted by ASR or be poached. ASR publishes 6 times a year, and only one or two per issue on a given topic. So even if ASR poaches EVERY SINGLE ED PAPER from Soc of Ed, it would only lose, maybe 7-8 papers per year out of those 40. Then, very quickly the editor would go back into the pile.

    Doesn’t seem so bad to me.

    Like

    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 6:00 am

  8. Also, in areas with multiple submissions, such as book publishing or college applications, many applicants will default to higher status people so there is often a de facto RoFR. And life goes on just fine.

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    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 6:08 am

  9. Fabio, again, you’re looking at it in the aggregate. I’ve edited a journal, too. If I’m looking at a paper, no, I am not gonna press reviewers any more than presently. Think about it. Paper comes in. Could be anything from a major change-the-field paper to a complete dub. Most (frankly) are not “change-the-field” papers. Most are in the middle. What’s my motivation for pushing to get quality reviews fast? If I were competing against all the other journals, my motivation would be to secure for my journal the best papers. If one journal can swoop in after I do all that work and take the top 5% of my papers (recall, my journal is proportionally smaller than ASR, so they *can* take the top 4-6% of my papers), why should I break my neck (and reviewers’ good sentiments) to get quality reviews in quickly? Face it, most of the competition will be (and probably should be) between ASR and the smaller journals. Not many papers are such that the same version will be a good match for both Sociology of Education and Journal of Health and Social Behavior, or a good match for SPQ and Sociological Theory. Allowing simultaneous submission, but allowing ASR to have RoFR, just threatens to turn the smaller journals into a vetting service for ASR. If I edited a smaller journal, I’d resist this effort. I’d just refuse to play. So, review times wouldn’t change much at all, even at the small journal, and RoFR will have destroyed any chance of changing the incentives at ASR.

    But, Fabio, you and I can go back and forth on this. Why? Let’s hear some other voices. I’ll just observe this: we know enough about social systems to know that rarities (5-10% of papers) can have large system effects. So, if you do come back with a rejoinder, I ask you: please find another argument than “it’s only x% of papers.” I’m open to being persuaded, but the “it’s only x%” argument does not do the job. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    HopefulLurker

    March 8, 2016 at 7:04 am

  10. Given that impact factors are usually driven by very few well-cited “hit” papers, HopefulLurkers arguments are even more important. Don’t do this.

    Liked by 1 person

    tb303

    March 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

  11. I think this is an awesome idea. You are allowed to submit book prospectus and proposal for special issues to multiple places, why not manuscripts??

    Like

    Abcde

    March 8, 2016 at 8:27 pm

  12. What is the “modified form” of multiple submission in the physical sciences? In the other post, Olav wrote, that Science and Nature are “right of first refusal” journals, and the petition states, “Multiple submission exists in the world of law journals and a modified form exists in many physical sciences.”

    According to their website, “Nature does not consider contributions under consideration or published elsewhere.” Likewise, Science requires that you affirm that “None of the material … has been published or is under consideration for publication elsewhere.”

    It is my understanding that law journals that have external reviewers, like the Journal of Legal Analysis, have an exclusive submission policy.

    If anyone could point to a journal or field that has non-exclusive submissions and external peer review, that would be helpful in understanding how it could play out in sociology.

    Like

    neal caren

    March 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

  13. Perhaps the folks in the other thread were wrong about refusal in physical science. But multiple submission is the norm in legal journals.

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    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 9:06 pm

  14. And multiple submission is standard for book publishing.

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    fabiorojas

    March 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

  15. one disanalogy between the legal journals and sociology is that very many legal journals and all of the highest prestige ones, i.e. the “flagship” journals of all the major law schools, are generalist journals. there is much less overlap in subject matter among the leading sociology journals. to the extent that legal journals provide a model, the ASA journals are not the right set of journals to target with this plan. just about any given manuscript would be appropriate to submit to two ASA journals at most — ASR and one other. in practice your plan would become: everyone submitting to an ASA journal is permitted to submit to ASR simultaneously, and non-ASR journals must wait for a judgment from ASR before they can accept any MS for publication. i don’t think it would save time for editors or authors.
    another disanalogy to legal journals is that law review articles are generally accepted as-is or with light editing only. coordinating different R&R demands from different editors on different timelines would be a real problem. you could allow authors to juggle those different demands into second and third round submissions or require them to pick only one R&R to move forward on, but either way i think you would negate much of the time saving that i think you envision. on the other hand, requesting that all our top journals move to a model of giving an up-or-down vote on the first round is a much more profound change in sociology publishing than what you’ve initially laid out — but that’s what you’d be asking if law reviews really are the model.

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    anon

    March 9, 2016 at 5:07 am

  16. Another important point is that law review journals that allow multiple submissions are NOT peer reviewed– they are student reviewed. Legal journals that ARE peer reviewed only allow single submissions. I doubt if anyone in sociology wants to move to a model where editorial decisions are made by graduate students, although it would probably speed up the review process…

    Liked by 1 person

    anonymous

    March 9, 2016 at 9:33 pm

  17. Anon: This is bizarre. Why do you assume that multiple submission means grad student review? (a) Already, grad students review papers for journals. (b) in other multiple submission systems like books and grants, still have mostly faculty review.

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    fabiorojas

    March 9, 2016 at 9:48 pm

  18. Sorry if this was unclear. I understood that “the world of law journals” was being used as the model and pointing out that the law journal world that allows multiple submission is not just student reviewed (which, yes, we have) but student edited. Students review the paper and then decide whether or not to accept the paper.

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    anonymous

    March 9, 2016 at 10:02 pm

  19. I’d be careful to use book reviews as a comparison, since that market is so much smaller. I think the key point is mentioned by anon, that the competition would only between ASR and one specialty journal. Since, as far as I know, compared to Soc Theory, SPQ and C&C, ASR is the journal that needs the pressure to speed up the process; the others have a rather fast process. So you need to put pressure on ASR more than on the others Now, you Fabio added the clause to please the committee assuming their preference for ASR, but I’d worry about pleasing the other 5 editors/sections involved as well.

    I’m not sure about the procedure for these decisions, but if ASR does not like multipe submissions, I wonder if we could have the ASA membership vote on this.

    Like

    sebastianguzman

    March 11, 2016 at 10:34 pm


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