Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why do we publish manuscript submission and accepted dates?

Recently Alex Bond, an ecologist at the University of Saskatchewan (his homepage and his blog) put out a question via Twitter:
The Canadian Field-Naturalist publishes the date when we first received a manuscript and when it was accepted.  We include this info at the bottom of all of our Articles and Notes (see pic below).

We do this for three reasons.
  1. For us.  We want to monitor how long manuscripts take in the review and editing process.  Publishing those dates on articles is a sure way to keep the info handy so we don't lose it.  Once we move to our online manuscript management system we will have more detailed info available for ourselves (e.g., dates of each review, dates of editors' correspondence, etc.).  These data allow us to evaluate the performance of practices and personnel to see what is related to turnaround times.
  2. For potential authors.  According to a survey of ecologists by Aarssen et al. (2008), the likelihood of a rapid decision was an important factor in choice of journal for submission for 72% of ecologist.  This could be why some of the mega-publishers are tricky in their turnaround time statistics; they "reject" manuscripts instead of calling it "revise", and count the submission of the revised version as a new submission.  This makes it look like the turnaround times are shorter than they actually are.  It's sketchy, and authors are blowing the whistle on this deception.
  3. For researchers.  Kareiva et al. (2002) and O'Donnell et al. (2010) analyzed manuscript turnaround times for a variety of journals, and found conservation journals were kinda slow, but getting faster over the past decade.  Considering conservation journals pride ourselves in publishing research relevant to policy makers, being slow could delay conservation policy action.  Kareiva et al.'s 2002 paper may have even been a "wake up call" for conservation journals, which O'Donnell et al. (2010) found subsequently reduced their turnaround times.  Other researchers are interested in the relationship between turnaround times and things like journal Impact Factor (e.g., Pautasso & Schäfer, 2010).  We're guilty of being slow, but over the past year our turnaround times have shortened considerably (I don't have the stats right now, but we've shaved many months off).  This is the result of great effort from our Editor-in-Chief, Associate Editors, reviewers, and of course authors.  Switching to our online manuscript management system should further reduce turnaround times, according to findings from other journals switching to such manuscript systems (Ware, 2005).
It's not just us who feels journals should publish these dates.  The Committee on Publication Ethics includes the publication of articles' dates of submission and acceptance as best practices for journal editors (pdf of their guidelines for editors).  Publishing manuscript dates is the right thing to do, and we'll continue to do so.

Aarssen, L. W., T. Tregenza, A. E. Budden, C. J. Lortie, J. Koricheva, and R. Leimu. 2008. Bang for your buck: rejection rates and impact factors in ecological journals. Open Ecology Journal 1:14-19.

Kareiva, P., M. Marvier, S. West, and J. Hornisher. 2002. Slow-moving journals hinder conservation efforts. Nature 420:15.

O'Donnell, R. P., S. R. Supp, and S. M. Cobbold. 2010. Hindrance of conservation biology by delays in the submission of manuscripts. Conservation Biology 24:615-620.

Pautasso, M. and H. Schäfer. 2010. Peer review delay and selectivity in ecological journals. Scientometrics 84:307-315.

Ware, M. 2005. Online submission and peer-review systems. Learned Publishing 18:245-250.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New issue: vol 126 issue 4 - with video accompaniment!

Our latest issue has an albino snake cover, but a cougar theme with three articles on cougar behaviour, distribution, and parasites.  Coyotes, red fox, fishers, and hares are also featured animals, along with purple loosestrife representing plants, and a sleuthing study of historic reddish egret collections in Nova Scotia.

This issue marks our first issue with a video supplement!  Mark Elbroch and Howard Quigley published an article with the word "kittens" in the title, but the video is not cute and cuddly.  The article and video show how cougar kittens may look big and strong, but their inexperience at killing prey seems to inhibit their hunting ability.  The video is embedded on our journal's website, associated with the article.  We look forward to publishing more articles with video supplements in the future.

A Direct Comparison of Enclosed Track Plates and Remote Cameras in Detecting Fishers, Martes pennanti, in North Dakota (281-287)

Steven C. Loughry, Maggie D. Triska, Dorothy M. Fecske, Thomas L. Serfass

Population Structure of Harvested Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Coyotes (Canis latrans) on Prince Edward Island, Canada (288-294)
Wendela Wapenaar, Fiep de Bie, David Johnston, Ryan M. O'Handley, Herman W. Barkema

Stand-level Attributes of Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) Habitat in a Post-Fire Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides) Chronosequence in Central Yukon (295-305)
Wayne L. Strong, Thomas S. Jung

Predicting the Spread of Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) in the Prairies (306-319)
Cory J. Lindgren, David Walker

Cougars, Puma concolor, in Ontario: Additional Evidence (320-323)

Frank F. Mallory, Rebecca A.Carter, Jenny L. Fortier, I. Stuart Kenn, Linsay Weis, B. N. White

First Record of Parasites from Cougars (Puma concolor) in Manitoba, Canada (324-327)
O. K. Dare, W. G. Watkins

Evidence for the Collection of a Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) in Nova Scotia During the 19th Century and its Association with the McCulloch Collection of Birds (328-332)
Eric L. Mills

Observations of Wild Cougar (Puma concolor) Kittens with Live Prey: Implications for Learning and Survival (333-335)
L. Mark Elbroch, Howard Quigley

A Partial Albino Hatchling Northern Ring-necked Snake, Diadophispunctatus edwardsii, from Big Tancook Island, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada (336-339)
John Gilhen, Graham Caswell, Carrie Drake, Mary MacDonald, Heather McKinnon-Ramshaw

Book Reviews
"Scientific and Standard English Names of Amphibians and Reptiles of North America North of Mexico, with Comments Regarding Confidence in Our Understanding – Seventh Edition." chaired by Brian I. Crother. 2012. [book review] (340-341)

Francis R. Cook

"Amphibian Biology Volume 10. Conservation and Decline of Amphibians: Ecological Aspects. Effect of Humans, and Management" edited by Harold Heatwole and John W. Wilkinson. 2012. [book review] (341-342)
Francis R. Cook

"The Amphibians and Reptiles of Michigan: A Quaternary and Recent Faunal Adventure" by J. Alan Holman. 2012. [book review] (342-344)
Francis R. Cook

"Contributions to the History of Herpetology. Volume 3" edited by Kraig Adler. 2012. [book review] (344-345)
Francis R. Cook

"A Pocket Guide to Lizards and Turtles of Pennsylvania" by Walter E. Meshaka, Jr., and Joseph T. Collins. 2012. [book review] (345-346)
Francis R. Cook

"Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide" by Heimo Mikkola. 2012. [book review] (346)
C. Stuart Houston

"Rhizobia in China" by Chen Wenxin and Wang Entao. 2012. [book review] (347-348)
Li Dezhi, Qin Aili

"Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution and Sustainability" edited by Paul Gepts et al. 2012. [book review] (348-349)
Tyler Smith

"The 2010 Norwegian Red List for Species" edited by John Atle Kålås et al. 2010. [book review] (349-350)
Falk Huettmann

"A Primer of Ecological Statistics, Second Edition" by Nicholas J. Gotelli and Aaron M. Ellison. 2013. [book review] (350-351)
Tremayne Stanton-Kennedy

New titles (352)

News and Comment
Yorke Edwards, 1924–2011; The Canadian Herpetologist 2(2), Fall 2012 (353)

Club Reports
The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club Awards for 2011, Presented April 2012 (354-356)

Ken Allison, Irwin Brodo, Julia Cipriani, Christine Hanrahan, Eleanor Zurbrigg

Instructions for Authors (370-372)

Index to Volume 126 (357-369)