John Dominic
John Dominic
Research Scholar, Manipal Institute of Technology

WAS author story image.jpgAs part of our #becauseofyou campaign, we’ve been celebrating the amazing work carried out every day by authors, researchers, reviewers and editors. In this, our third story of inspiration, John Dominic, an early career researcher at India’s Manipal Institute of Technology, tells us how he followed his dreams.


Many of us have a story that we’ve never shared with anybody, but which could prove inspiring if we took the time to share it. Instead, we keep it to ourselves and it dies with us. I want to tell you my story in the hopes that it may prove inspirational.


When I was 8 years old, my teacher asked me what I wished to become when I grew up. I told her that I wished to become a scientist and save people’s lives. My teacher said that I must become a doctor to do that. I replied to her that a doctor may cure the disease, but I wanted to instead become a scientist to prevent disease. I always imagined myself as a scientist and I would even write my name as Dr. John Dominic on my book covers when I was a boy. I knew that I would be that man someday.


As I grew older, my dreams began to fade. Many were successful in convincing me that I was nothing. During 2008 I was infected with typhoid. I ignored it for more than 10 days. I became very sick and weak. I knew I was going to die. I was in hospital for a week before I was finally out of danger. But, I was aware that it was a close call. I stayed at home for nearly 3 weeks before I resumed college. That three weeks changed my life completely. I spent the time at home doing absolutely nothing. I could not go out because I was very weak. Spending most of my time in bed, I began to see life in a totally different way and I realized that it all could be gone in a second.


During those three weeks, I began to reflect on my childhood. As a child, I was so passionate about everything. I used to talk to animals and would always bring animals back home. I would carefully watch spiders weaving their webs. Every living and non-living thing that I came across was good at something, which amazed me and raised a question in my mind: What is it that I am good at? Certainly there should be something which I must be good at. Is that something I’ve forgotten? Or, is that something which I buried within myself? What holds me back from doing what I love to do? Have I missed something? Questions like that are very hard to answer. Whenever I go to bed, there’s a short period before I fall asleep and that’s the time I ask myself those questions. Most of us have this feeling, although we often ignore it.


It was at that time I decided to follow my dreams and my passion. After all, I was on my deathbed and what could be worse than that? We all die someday and there is no point in living a life with outside voices in our heads telling us what to do. I realized that I must cut off the cables which others attached to control me. It wasn’t so easy to do that. It requires courage. Real courage. I call it enlightenment. You see things which others don’t. You can’t explain the feeling and even if you could, nobody would understand you. The only person who can completely understand you is YOU. You need to be with those who can actually understand your dreams and care about them.


After I recovered completely from my illness, I went back to university. I became more aware of the social problems around me. Public health challenges were something which bothered me a lot. There are many people in my region with families to look after who earn $2-4 per day. Most of them are laborers on farms or at construction sites. They often get injured or sick and medical facilities are too expensive. I have also seen people sell everything they have to afford medical care for loved ones. Despite this, many who had nothing had to watch their loved ones die slowly. I had seen both these cases. I say to myself every day, "Many people become sick or die and most of them don't have to." There must be something I can do to help them. At least some of them.


In 2009 I started carrying out infectious disease research. Soon I began to understand the bigger picture. Pathogenic microbes are evolving into superbugs. I began to focus more on preventing nosocomial infections which are killing many people. In India, we say that one must catch hold of the mad dog instead of bandaging the victims. That’s exactly what I began to focus on. In 2011, I registered for a PhD at Manipal University, where I began to design and develop polymeric materials to combat the drug-resistant microbes. My idea is to develop disinfectants and materials that can neutralize the drug-resistant microbes at hospitals and other public places.


As I said, we need to be with those who understand our dreams. My family always supported my dream. I thank all those who believed in me and I promise that I will never let you down.


John Dominic is a research scholar at Manipal Institute of Technology in Manipal, India.


Read more stories of inspiration from researchers here.


    Manisha Menon
Manisha Menon
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut Health Center

182885575.jpgYou might decide to pursue a postdoctoral position after earning your PhD, either to more narrowly specialize in your doctoral field of work or to learn a new set of skills. In my case, I wanted to expand on my training to learn new techniques and gain expertise in a different field. So after earning my PhD in basic cell biology, I decided to move out of my comfort zone and start a postdoc in immunology.


Because I did not take any immunology courses in grad school, my postdoc was a learn-on-the-job opportunity. Having colleagues who were willing to demonstrate commonly used (but completely new to me) techniques in the lab and were patient enough to answer my many questions, was invaluable. Another resource I had available to me was the opportunity to attend the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) advanced course in immunology in Boston. This week-long course taught by top names in the field is a crash course on crucial concepts in immunology. I was also involved in writing a review article, which was a great way to learn the current literature.


In the two and a half years that I’ve worked in a mouse immunology lab, I’ve learned a lot about mouse husbandry and mouse colony maintenance. Just as cell lines need to be split to keep them healthy and growing, mouse pups, once they reach a certain age, need to be separated from their mother to ensure that they continue to thrive. Importantly, I also learned that male pups from different mothers cannot share the same cage unless they are being weaned, or they will fight to the death (and fortunately, no, I did not learn that from trial and error, but from one of my more experienced labmates)! One or two days each week, for a couple of hours at a time, I can be found in the "mouse room," taking care of the mouse colonies I maintain. This includes weaning, setting up breeding cages, and setting up pups to screen for the gene of interest during the generation of new mouse lines.


My postdoc work also provided an opportunity to expand on the microscopy knowledge I gained in grad school. While I performed live cell imaging using confocal microscopy for my PhD, I moved onto multiphoton microscopy during my postdoctoral work. Multiphoton microscopy is a valuable tool for imaging thicker samples and is therefore indispensable for imaging mouse tissues in situ. One of my research projects involves imaging the mouse popliteal lymph node in situ. On an imaging day at the lab, how early my day starts depends on the time points I collect. A busy day involves starting bacterial cultures early in the morning, infecting mice later in the morning and imaging the lymph node a few hours later. Other days involve performing mouse organ dissections, and processing and staining to be run through the flow cytometer.


My experience has provided me with a unique perspective on working with two distinct model systems: human cell lines and mice. The latter is considered more physiologically relevant, especially as my postdoc lab focuses on bacterial and viral infections. While my PhD research focused on the function of a single protein within the cell, my postdoc project forced me to take a step back and address my research question on a more macroscopic level, and I examined how the protein of interest influences immune cell function in a tissue like the lymph node or gut. However, irrespective of the field, there are aspects of research that remain constant. Apart from planning and performing experiments, there are always data to analyze and interpret, papers to read, manuscripts to write and edit, and presentations to prepare.


The transition between disciplines was not always a smooth ride, but being somewhat prepared for the ups and downs made the journey worth it. For example, it took me more than a year to master some of the imaging techniques, time that could have been spent gathering data for grants or research papers. At the end of the day, I’m happy with my decision to take up a postdoctoral position in immunology. I’ve learned a lot and I believe this experience has made me a better and braver scientist.


Have you switched fields since earning your PhD? Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments below, and consider joining Wiley Advisors. Learn more about the benefits here.


Dr. Manisha Menon earned her PhD in Cell Biology in 2013 from the University of Virginia. She is  currently conducting postdoctoral research in Immunology.


Image credit: miljko/iStockphoto


5 Tips to Make Your Survey Work

Posted Sep 26, 2016
    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

501613373.jpgMuch like the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child,” it also takes a village to create a successful survey. Wiley’s annual Society Membership Survey is written with input from colleagues across the business sharing their expertise and insights. In order to succeed, the final survey needs to be easy to understand, unbiased, and as streamlined as possible. It’s trickier than it sounds. I sat down with my colleague Trina Cody, Senior Manager, Customer Experience to find out what makes a survey successful and how to get results that will help you make decisions.


Q: So let’s start at the beginning. With surveys, where do you start?


TC: Always start with the goal of the survey. Think: What is the question you are trying to answer? It’s important for us to be very clear about this, so you don’t end up with “question creep,” which is the scenario when you start to add in everything you can think of. This makes for a terrible survey experience for the respondent, and will lower the completion rate for the survey. It’s also important to think about why you want this information. There should always be a purpose to the survey, and actions that you take from the results. For us, a general “what do our members want?” survey isn’t good enough if we aren’t willing to act on that information.


Once there’s a clear purpose to the survey, it becomes much easier to write. When I write questions, I always ask myself: what am I going to do with the answer? How am I going to make changes based on these results? If I can’t answer that question, then I know I need to take it out of the survey. It's also worth noting that for surveys like the membership survey, we often use outside market research firms to perform the statistical analysis. Their experience really can't be beat. For the membership survey, we used a company called Broadview Analytics.


Q: That makes sense. Focusing on the action means that the survey isn’t a waste of time for us, but more importantly it isn’t a waste of time for the respondent. I think for me, one of the hardest parts of writing a survey is avoiding bias in the questions. We have a lot of experience working with and supporting members, so how can we remove any assumptions when we’re writing the survey?


TC: Language is key. We always try to use simple, non-leading language in the questions. We never want to force someone to pick an answer that doesn’t represent their thinking because it makes your results lose validity. I always make sure to include options like “don’t know,” or “unsure.” Even better, use “other” with the option to write in an answer. They might be more time consuming to analyze, but written responses should be included to capture the options that our team didn’t think of.


For the membership survey, we also asked several people who weren’t involved in writing the survey to test it. We picked people who weren’t involved with membership, so that they wouldn’t bring the same biases to the table. Doing this let us spot check for any areas where we might have made assumptions.


Q: It really does take a village! When I’ve written surveys, I always try to put myself in the shoes of a respondent who has no context for the questions, but it’s hard. I think asking others to test and review is a great idea.


Our membership survey is a multi-year study. Can you talk a little bit about the benefits of annual testing, or re-testing in general?


TC: Things change. People’s attitudes, opinions and behaviors change over time. They grow older, change jobs, move to a new country. I like to think of surveys as a snapshot in time while real life keeps moving.


With the membership survey, we’re surveying both members and non-members annually so that we can uncover trends and changes in attitudes. This is going to help our society partners with their membership goals. If we didn’t survey every year, we might miss major shifts in thinking, and we would be making strategic decisions based on old data.


Q: It is important to stay current, and to potentially start capturing insights from new members of the research community as they start their careers.


It seems like another benefit of a multi-year study is the opportunity to improve it over time. With the membership survey, were there questions that didn’t turn out the way you thought they would? Did you have to edit or change anything?


TC: Whenever you run a survey, there’s always at least one question that doesn’t turn out like you wanted. In the first membership survey, we asked about engagement with members but we didn’t specify if we meant the level of engagement the society has with its members or the engagement members have with the society.


This year, we asked the question both ways. As it turns out the responses were pretty similar (59% were satisfied with the level of engagement their society has with them, and 60% were satisfied with the level of engagement they have with their society).


I always review the previous survey when I’m writing a new survey, or updating it. I look to see what I can improve upon this time around.


Q: My last question is about demographic information. At the beginning, you talked about always making sure there was something we could take action on with each question we asked. What do we do with demographic information?


TC: For this year’s survey, we were focused on needs-based segmentation. Basically, we wanted to use quantitative, statistical analysis to group respondents based on the benefits they seek from a society, regardless of age, geography, etc. We did this so that we could cut through all of those demographics to get at the core of what the person is trying to accomplish and the job they’re trying to get done. We also ask demographic-based questions so that we can complete the picture of who our participants are. For example, asking a geographic question lets us know where members are most highly concentrated. This year, we learned that countries in central Asia have the lowest percentage of members, but they are also the most likely to join a society in the next 12 months. Those insights can be important for targeting communications and outreach strategies.


For a high-level look at insights from Wiley’s Society Membership survey, you can download a free infographic here.


Image credit: Ryhor Bruyeu/iStockphoto


    Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor
Social Sciences and Humanities Journals team, Wiley

shutterstock_305136455.jpgWhen current co-editors Fouad Abd-El-Khalick and Dana L. Zeidler of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, JRST, sent their proposal for editorship to NARST: A Worldwide Organization for Improving Science Teaching and Learning Through Research, one main focus of theirs was to build “a deliberate educational component into the editorial operations of the journal.” Abd-El-Khalick and Zeidler knew that the journal played an important part in the education of doctoral students, but felt that there was more they could do.


“We believe that JRST and its peers have an enormous, and as of yet unrealized, potential to make additional and unique contributions to doctoral education,” Abd-El-Khalick and Zeidler note.


Once their editorship was approved, they began to plan, honing in on the journal’s longstanding graduate student guest reviewer program. Like many other journals, JRST’s program elicited student reviewers, who were then assigned manuscripts to review, wrote reviews, and then received a copy of an “expert” review or the final editorial decision letter. At the time, this is where the program ended.


Taking the extra step


Abd-El-Khalick and Zeidler wanted to engage graduate students more fully in the peer review process of a publication, which they will be participating in regularly over the lifetime of their careers. An early introduction to this complex but necessary process helps students prepare for the highlight of their doctoral degree, the publication of their doctoral dissertations. Investing in the education of graduate students prepares the next generation of researchers, reviewers, and editorial board members of refereed publications.


With all this in mind, the editorial office set out to start the “JRST Doctoral Mentored Reviewer Initiative.” This new initiative incorporates the student reviewer program of its past, but extends the process by asking students to work together—under the supervision of their faculty advisor—to discuss the formal editorial decision letter and generate a report, which is meant to simulate the response that manuscript authors generate in response to editorial decision letters. Unlike other programs, participating students work with a ‘live’ submission, which adds authenticity, immediacy and relevancy to the experience.


How do I get involved?


Interested students must gather a group led by a faculty advisor, and send a participation request to the JRST editorial team. A couple of weeks later, students will receive the article to review. Their reviews must be submitted within four weeks of accepting the invitation to review, as per regular reviewer guidelines. The editorial board will send students the formal editorial decision letter to review, compare to their own reviews, and discuss. A sponsoring faculty member will oversee the group discussion and ideally use this opportunity to teach students about conducting reviews, rigorous research designs, data collection, and analysis methods; high-quality writing, and presenting streamlined arguments in a manuscript. The faculty member will guide students as they generate a group report that discusses ways to address the issues and concerns with the manuscript in question, which are outlined in the official decision letter. This phase of the experience is meant to simulate the process an author would go through to write a cover letter to accompany the revised manuscript.


Participants will receive a letter of acknowledgement from the editors and their names, along with their supervisor’s name(s), will appear in the final issue of JRST for that volume year. The total timeline for this program will take between five and seven months.


Learning from experience


Like many graduate faculty members, the editors engaged their doctoral students with a similar process, in which they used their own submitted manuscripts from one time or another. While they found this process useful, the manuscripts were often limited to what happens to be the preferred research focus and research methodologies of the particular faculty member. This approach was also limited by the range of manuscript topics and approaches, and lacked the authenticity that the new initiative provides. Now graduate students are engaged with the life cycle of peer review of the manuscript in question. The student reviews have no bearing on the actual or official editorial decision for manuscripts used in the initiative.


“We hope that students would internalize the fact that a finalized published manuscript comes into being as the result of a process that engages the collective minds of a number of individuals in their research community who mindfully participate in critical discourse through a well-established process featuring a set of practical conventions and ethical standards,” say Abd-El-Khalick and Zeidler.


JRST will track participation in the new initiative and plans to assess its impact by surveying participant students and mentors.


For more information on the JRST Doctoral Mentored Reviewer Initiative please visit the Journal of Research in Science Teaching’s site here.


Image credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock


    Verity Warne
Verity Warne
Associate Marketing Director, Author Marketing, Wiley

86462101.jpgMuch of the discussion around peer review focuses on the role and responsibilities of peer reviewers. But the role of the editor is often overlooked in our current discourse. While reviewers make evaluations of the quality and impact of a research paper, it’s the editor who then uses this assessment to reach a final decision about a paper, and mediate between author and reviewer.


In this post, representatives from Wiley and Publons discuss the role of editors, and how this role may be better acknowledged.


Participants: Samantha Foskett (In House Editorial, Wiley), Daniel Johnston (Publons), Miriam Maus (Editorial Management, Wiley)


Why and how are handling editors important to the integrity of the peer review process?


Miriam: Editors represent a hugely influential stakeholder group in the scientific discourse. Every day, editors make judgement calls that have a direct impact on published research: they select reviewers, they assess the validity of a reviewer report and hold authors accountable to the standards set by the journal they edit. In that way, editors also have a direct impact on an individual researcher’s careers.


Daniel: Absolutely. A quick way to understand the importance of handling editors is to imagine the impact a bad handling editor can have: taking an eternity to commission unhelpful reviews from unsuitable reviewers that demand endless out-of-scope revisions, or lazily recommending publication for flawed manuscripts that hinder the progress of their field, or ignoring warning flags of academic misconduct.


Sam: Yes, but increasingly, it’s not just the quality of the evaluation that counts, it’s how long it takes. And this is where editors have a lot of influence on the author experience. Authors in the physical sciences typically rate speed to publication as one of the top two factors in selecting a journal (along with impact factor). And yet getting manuscripts reviewed thoroughly and quickly by experts is no easy feat. It takes perseverance and access to a wide network.


Miriam: Over the past 5-10 years, the peer review process has undergone a huge amount of change. There was a time when diversity in peer review models pretty much amounted to a distinction between single and double blind review. Add to this open peer review, post and pre-publication review, transferable reviews, reviewing for novelty vs reviewing for scientific soundness and you are only scratching the surface of what is available now. Any of these models comes with benefits and challenges and communities rely on editors to implement approaches that are suitable to their needs.


Sam: More could be done to acknowledge the vital role that editors play here. For me this is about editors getting out in the scientific community and talking about the publishing process and the issues they face – and also, finding out what the community needs. There might be greater acknowledgement of editors if they lead debates on peer review models, for example.


Miriam: As Publishers we facilitate and support new models – through investment in technology and other resources, for example – but we rely very much on the experience of our Editors to let us know what makes most sense for a given journal and community.


With diversity and change comes complexity and editors are often at the crux of challenging issues. Publication Ethics is a big theme and alongside high profile cases of misconduct, fabricated research and fake reviewers, editors deal with such issues in their day-to-day work always aiming – and often succeeding – in identifying issues early on and dealing with them before publication. A recent survey of editors we undertook at Wiley revealed that 82% of respondents see the safeguarding of publication ethics as a primary responsibility of the Editor in Chief role. As a consequence, editors often find themselves at the center of debates challenging established practices and notions of peer review.


Sam: Yes. We find that the resources provided by COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) are invaluable. Resolving authorship disputes and plagiarism allegations is a somewhat thankless but important task. Few people realize how much time and effort is involved: I can think of one difficult authorship dispute that lasted several years!


Do you feel that the importance of this role is sufficiently acknowledged in the current debate around peer review? If not, why not?


Sam: Editing a respected journal carries kudos and tends to enhance an individual’s standing in the field. So in this sense, there is acknowledgement. But in my experience, the debate around peer review tends to focus more on the role of reviewers. Reviewing is vital of course – but without an editor to assess the validity of comments and to resolve conflicting recommendations, there is no clear outcome for the author. Perhaps more attention is paid to reviewers because established researchers tend to be swamped with requests to review, whereas few people have experience of editing. There can be a lack of awareness of the publishing process.


Miriam: I don’t think this question has a clear yes or no answer. On the one hand, editing or being on the board of a well regarded journal, often has a positive impact on an individual’s standing. In Wiley’ survey of Editors-in-Chief, 83% of respondents said that their reputation within the community was enhanced by being an editor and 44% reported that the role has had a positive impact on their career trajectory. On the other hand, editing work is less explicitly linked to academic progression than authoring published research.


Daniel: It is a great step that we are discussing this for peer review week! Being listed as an editorial board member on the journal’s website does little to convey the nature or the level of their editorial contributions. For some, being on an editorial board is simply a soft commitment to accept a handful of review requests a year.  For others, being on an editorial board means finding and managing 100+ peer reviewers a year.


We can’t forget that academic editors have their own research priorities, and all the requirements to prove their worth to employers and funders that go along with it. Just like with recognizing peer review, the greater the recognition we can provide to editors the stronger the incentives are to put aside their own research for a few hours to do a good job of their editorial assignments.


How might we better acknowledge and/or support editors?


Miriam: Looking at the responses Wiley collected from editors of the journals we publish, it is clear that editors want to be associated with a high quality publication, which provides excellent service to  authors and attracts high quality submissions. Increasing impact factor and download figures are seen as key metrics for success and editors are always looking for information and guidance on how to improve those key metrics. To be able to meaningfully recognize the contributions of editors we need readily available and reliable data that shows how an individual publishing decisions plays out in the medium and long term: Are articles accepted by an individual editor well cited, downloaded, do they have ‘impact’ in the community and beyond? Are rejected articles published elsewhere and how do they fare? Obtaining any quantitative or qualitative data in this way is currently not straightforward, though it should not be beyond the reach of the various players in the research and publishing field to work together to address this challenge.


Sam: Miriam raises an interesting idea about editor metrics. On one hand, it’s an alluring idea: an easy way to see if editors are selecting the right content. But article citations and downloads won’t tell you if the peer review was robust. And there are lots of things that good editors do that wouldn’t be easily captured – for example, taking the time to offer constructive feedback when rejecting a paper, resolving publishing ethics cases, mentoring new Board members, etc. And like the impact factor, metrics would probably be biased in favor of fast-moving subject areas, and they could be open to manipulation!


Daniel: We’ve done a lot of research on this exact question over the past few months. A few main things stand out.


First, 89% of editors we surveyed wanted recognition for their handling editor work in the same way they now get recognition for their peer review work, so that they can provide proof of their editorial contributions in promotion applications. As a result of these requests Publons now supports recognition for handling editors.


Second, editors the world over all have the same answer for the toughest part of being an editor: finding good reviewers that accept review invitations. Journals can provide more support, tools, and training to help editors with finding reviewers -- and continue to improve the recognition and rewards for reviewers to improve review invitation acceptance rates.


There is a lot of work to be done in expanding the reviewer pool, most obviously by identifying (and providing peer review training for) early career researchers and researchers from non-Western countries.


Sam: I agree that one of the big challenges now is to expand the reviewer pool, especially in Asia, where we are seeing a rapid increase in publications in many subject areas. The ORCID initiative is going to help with this, but not everyone is participating yet. Journals and universities need to encourage their authors to register for ORCID identifiers to ensure that they get full credit for their publications.


Image credit: Colin Anderson/Getty Images


How Not to Conduct Peer Review

Posted Sep 23, 2016
    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

We hope you’ve enjoyed celebrating Peer Review Week 2016 here with us on Wiley Exchanges. To round out our week of peer review posts, we thought we’d share this video on how NOT to conduct peer review, as demonstrated by a group of 4th and 5th graders!




What have been your key takeaways from Peer Review Week? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet with #PeerRevWk16.


    James Watson
James Watson
Commissioning Editor for Health Science Books, Wiley

510617049.jpgWhen one hears the words "peer review," many may automatically think of journal publishing. However, the peer review process is also an integral component to academic book publishing. While a Commissioning Editor will have a certain degree of subject knowledge, it is the peer reviewer who can give credence to the editor’s initial feelings of whether a project may have potential. As with journal publishing, it is the external peer review process which acts as a filter, to ensure that a high level of academic quality is maintained. As a result, several reviews are normally sought for each book project.


Finding our peer reviewers


Part of the art of working in a book editorial team is managing the peer review process, and liaising with the author about the reviewer feedback. There are a variety of ways that a peer reviewer may be found (and each editor has his/her own techniques for finding them), including consulting expert databases, advanced online searches, conference delegate lists, or word of mouth. As a rule of thumb, there are some key pitfalls to avoid when finding reviewers, including ensuring that the reviewers are all from different institutions, and that they have no direct links with the project (and if they do, they should flag up any competing interests). For a large edited collection on a niche area, however, it can be difficult to find willing expert reviewers who are not already affiliated with the book. It is also often useful to have a range of international voices, so reviews may be sought from around the globe. Remuneration for peer review work can vary depending on the type of project and review required, and can range from an honorarium, to a discount on books, and can sometimes even lead to a new book project with the publisher.


An external peer reviewer is normally thought of as a subject expert, or it is at least an area they feel comfortable commenting in. Although it’s worth bearing in mind that unlike journal articles, which by their nature tend to be shorter and focused on a specific issue or topic, a successful book review would normally have to be broader in scope (as a successful book would have to have a certain level of breadth, as well as depth).


On my own list of medical and health education, we commission reviews from a mixture of lecturers and student reviewers because our textbooks are ultimately aimed for the students reading them. While part of the review is on the content of the book, the reviewers also provide valuable information on a range of other issues, from recommended course reading lists, to suggestions for other learning features, potential competing titles or suggested additional digital components for the book.


The stages of book peer review


There are normally three distinct stages in a book’s life when the services of a peer reviewer may be called upon. The first is in assessing an initial book proposal (and perhaps sample chapter), which may either have arrived on the Commissioning Editor’s desk unsolicited, or be a project the editor was actively looking for. The second instance the peer review process can be used is once a book project has been contracted with the publisher, and the author submits a batch of chapters or even a complete manuscript to be checked. While this is not necessary for most books, it can be invaluable when the author or publisher need specific content checked for accuracy or readability. The final time the peer review process is most frequently employed is after a book has published, which is especially useful when considering improvements that could be made for a potential new edition.


In each stage, there are a number of key questions which tend to be asked of the reviewer, including the potential audience and market for the book, information about competing titles, the author’s suitability for writing the book, any crucial material lacking or areas superfluous, as well as commenting on the academic level and quality of the content.


It is this level of detailed feedback, from a range of expert reviewers, which ensures that academic book publishing continues to create relevant, cutting edge, and high quality products which are useful for students, teachers, practitioners, and researchers.


James Watson is a Commissioning Editor for Health Sciences books at Wiley.


Image credit: Frankhuang/Getty Images


    Rachel Prosser
Rachel Prosser
MRC Programme Manager – Peer Review

mrc peer review.jpgOur peer review posts on Wiley Exchanges are often focused on journal reviewers. Today, we take a look at a different type of review activity – grant reviewing. We asked Rachel Prosser of the Medical Research Council to explore the role of grant reviewers in the context of the Recognition theme of this year’s Peer Review Week.


Peer Review Week 2016 provides a great opportunity to highlight peer review processes and the important role that peer review plays in research funding. We are very grateful to our reviewers, who give their time to ensure that the Medical Research Council (MRC) invests in the most important and high-quality research aimed at improving human health.


The MRC is one of the UK’s seven research councils who together invest around £3 billion in research each year on behalf of the UK tax payer.


Each research council is given a budget by the UK government to fund research by awarding grants on a competitive basis and, at the MRC, we fund world-class research aimed at improving human health.


We received over 2,000 applications for funding last year, but don’t have infinite amounts of money. We therefore need to be sure that the research we support is of the highest quality and that public money is spent wisely. We need to ensure that the process of deciding which research is funded is fair, rigorous and informed by the best and most up-to-date scientific knowledge. To do this, and ensure high quality decision-making, we use a peer review process where scientists and other experts review the work of other scientists.


At the MRC, we use a two-stage peer review process where proposals are first assessed by independent experts, and then by MRC research board or panel members. Our research boards and panels each have their own scope of interests and are made up of a large number of researchers with broad and diverse expertise.


Peer reviewers’ assessments are invaluable in helping the MRC research board or panel make funding decisions. The written reviews also provide useful feedback to our grant applicants to help them improve their research. You can find out more about how our peer review processes work in our peer review web pages or by watching our peer review animation.


Of course, the grant application peer review process isn’t always easy. It can be really difficult for us to secure a sufficient number of reviews for each proposal and to ensure these reviews are provided by the most appropriate people. Sometimes we have to approach as many as 15 people to secure only three or four reviews, which involves a lot of time and effort for the office. However, obtaining these expert opinions is the best way to ensure we fund the best quality science.


We rely on receiving high-quality reviews. The reviews enable our boards and panels to make well-informed decisions, so it’s important that they are clear and objective, providing well-justified comments and constructive criticism.


It is also important that peer review covers the changing needs of the scientific landscape. One particular issue we are tackling, alongside the Academy of Medical Sciences, BBSRC, and Wellcome Trust, is the need to improve the reproducibility and reliability of research. The methodological rigor of all grant applications is scrutinized during the peer review process to ensure that the proposed research will deliver robust findings. However, often insufficient detail is provided to allow proper scrutiny, due to space limitations. We have recently added an additional one-page annex to the MRC online application form, allowing for more detail on methodology and experimental design. Additionally, we have offered training for board and panel members, to enable peer reviewers and board and panel members to better scrutinize experimental design in grant applications.


To help MRC peer reviewers, we have published updated guidance and tips for writing a good review. We also asked Professor Eleanor Riley, the Deputy Chair of the MRC Infections and Immunity Board, to share her thoughts on what makes a good review. Sharing expertise is important, and we hope that some of these tips may also be helpful for journal publishing peer review.



Don't forget to join us for our webinar "Getting Recognition for Reviewing" today, Wednesday, September 21st, at 9:30 EST/2:30 GMT. Register here.


Image credit: Medical Research Council

What Makes a Good Peer Reviewer?

Posted Sep 21, 2016
    Verity Warne
Verity Warne
Associate Marketing Director, Author Marketing, Wiley

Peer reviewers provide crucial feedback to authors, helping them to improve the communication of their research. What skills and qualities do reviewers need in order to assess the validity and quality of the science while helping authors to improve their work?


Discover what reviewers themselves have to say about what it takes to deliver a great review, then join the conversation on Twitter with #PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview.


Don't forget to join us for our webinar "Getting Recognition for Reviewing" today, Wednesday, September 21st, at 9:30 EST/2:30 GMT. Register here.
peer to peer.PNG
    Rachel Zawada
Rachel Zawada
Senior Marketing Manager, Author Marketing, Wiley

8.jpgResearchers are making new and important discoveries at an increasingly rapid rate, but most agree that it takes too long to publish their work. It can take more than 150 days from research submission to publication. To put this into perspective, let’s take a look at a few events that have transpired in less time:


  • The writing of the U.S. Constitution (116 days)
  • Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries (72 days)
  • Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World (70 days)
  • The creation of the earth (6 days)


At the heart of the problem is peer review, which we all know is critical to ensuring research findings are reliable and relevant before being communicated to the world. However, the entire peer review process can take 80 days on average. At Wiley, we believe that a review process that lasts longer than a Kardashian marriage is not only a long time for authors to wait, but also a significant time investment for reviewers – an investment that is not always rewarded.


Historically, there has been very little incentive to peer review, making it difficult to find the reviewers needed to get research published. That’s why Wiley is working with Publons to shine a light on this problem and give reviewers the recognition they deserve. We’re proud to say that more than 750 Wiley journals are being newly integrated with Publons, the world’s leading peer review recognition platform. This partnership is an expansion of a 6-month pilot program conducted by Wiley and Publons in 2015, which led to faster review times among reviewers that opted in.


In addition to speeding up the peer review process, the beauty of Publons is that it provides a means to better recognize reviewer contributions. Those who review for any of Wiley’s participating journals can effortlessly track, verify, and showcase every review they undertake. Reviewers can then go on to use their verified peer review and editorial records in funding and promotion applications.


But if you don’t believe us, take it from a real-life Publons user. Dr. Matthias Lein, Chemistry researcher and lecturer with the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at the University of Victoria, recently said: “I could say I do 20 reviews … every week and no one could verify that, because it’s all confidential. I really like the idea that with Publons I’ve got this cross-verified transcript of how much I do and for which journals. Now I can point people to my profile and there are the statistics.”


For those who worry about how this might impact reviewer confidentiality, never fear! Publons provides verified credit for peer review without compromising reviewer anonymity or infringing upon journal review models. By default, the content of reviews for Wiley journals will not be publicly displayed on Publons, and only the year of the review and the journal title will be shown on reviewer profiles, unless both the journal and reviewer has actively selected an alternative setting.


For more details on the partnership and to see a list of participating journals, visit the Publons-Wiley partnership page. The list of journals will be growing rapidly over the course of the next few months, so be sure to check back frequently!


Image credit: nikkytok/GettyImages


    Verity Warne
Verity Warne
Associate Marketing Director, Author Marketing, Wiley

Peer+Review+Week+2016+Banner_620x315.jpgShiver me Timbers and Splice the Mainbrace! September 19th is International Talk like a Pirate Day. But, more importantly to us and our community, it’s also the beginning of Peer Review Week 2016 – a week of online activity designed to spread the message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications.


This year’s theme is Recognition for Review, exploring all aspects of how those participating in review activity – in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more – should be recognized for their contribution.


To celebrate Peer Review Week and all things peer review, we are posting new peer review content daily exploring different aspects of the review process and announcing an exciting new recognition development from Wiley. Don’t miss our webinar on Getting Recognition for Reviewing on Wednesday.


Keep track of everything that’s going on by following #RecognizeReview and #PeerRevWk16 on Twitter.


In the meantime, to get you started, find out why these Wiley editors choose to peer review – and how they feel it has helped their research careers.


    Chris Peters
Chris Peters
Scientific Affairs Manager, Sense about Science

2016 John Maddox prize advert after nominations close.jpgThe John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science recognizes the work of extraordinary people who promote sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty or hostility in doing so. The prize has been running for six years now, and every year we have seen a steady rise in the number of people nominated. While we welcome these entries, and the opportunity for recognition that they offer, it is also a wake-up call to all of us in the scientific community that many of our colleagues around the world are facing true jeopardy in the course of pursuing their work. It is also a much needed reminder that so-called “public engagement” can be combative and difficult, especially when science meets an area of troubled public discourse. The effects of this are wide ranging — some nominees have been the target of personal abuse and smear campaigns, others have lost their jobs, a few have even received death threats.


The Man Behind the Prize

Sir John was an inspirational figure to many. A passionate and tireless communicator and defender of science, he engaged with difficult debates, inspiring others to do the same. The prize pays tribute to the attitude of Sir John who, in the words of his friend Walter Gratzer: “wrote prodigiously on all that was new and exciting in scientific discovery and technological advance, denouncing fearlessly what he believed to be wrong, dishonest or shoddy. He did it with humor and grace, but he never sidestepped controversy, which he seemed in fact to relish. His forthrightness brought him some enemies, often in high places, but many more friends. He changed attitudes and perceptions, and strove throughout his long working life for a better public understanding and appreciation of science.” The prize is a joint initiative of Nature, where Sir John was editor for 22 years; the Kohn Foundation, whose founder Sir Ralph Kohn was a personal friend of Sir John's, particularly through their Fellowship of the Royal Society; and Sense About Science, where Sir John served as a trustee until his death in 2009.


Recent Prize Winners and Their Stories


Ernst_-_Campbell_-_Jebb_-_for_web.jpgLast year, the prize was awarded to two individuals who had faced hugely damaging attacks on their professional character as a result of challenging misinformation in their own areas of research. Professor Edzard Ernst criticized a report on complementary medicine commissioned by Prince Charles in 2005, which suggested that complementary and alternative medicine was cost effective and should be available on the NHS, as “complete misleading rubbish”. His comments provoked an angry letter from Prince Charles’ secretary Sir Michael Peat citing a “breach of confidence” in commenting about a draft report that had not yet been published. What followed was described by Professor Ernst as “the most unpleasant period of my entire professional life” and one which subsequently led to his early retirement.


Sharing the prize in 2015 with Professor Ernst was nutrition expert Professor Susan Jebb, who has been at the forefront of speaking out about sugar and was among the first to suggest a “sugar tax” as a method to reduce the amount of sugary foods being eaten. Professor Jebb faced accusations in the media of being paid by the food industry, despite Jebb receiving no personal remuneration and being completely open about her industry-sponsored research.


Sir Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature and a member of the judging panel, summed it up neatly when he said, “Both of them have felt the intense heat of influential opposition and have stood by their views, at who-knows-what cost to themselves.”


The winner of the 2016 John Maddox Prize will be announced on Thursday, November 17th at the Sense about Science annual reception. Follow the announcement and discussion at #MaddoxPrize and help support all those extraordinary people who stand up for science despite facing adversity.


Chris Peters is the Scientific Affairs Manager at Sense about Science.


Image credit: Chris Peters


    Jen Cheng
Jen Cheng
Content Marketing Strategist, Wiley

156199309.jpgOne of our consistently popular posts over the years has been 10 Challenges Librarians Are Facing, so we felt the time was right to revisit this question. During the recent Sustainable Academic Libraries: Now and Beyond 2016 conference in Hong Kong, Wiley conducted a poll asking librarians to vote for the top challenges they face, which we’ve outlined below. Which challenges resonate with you?


1. Budget

Budget issues remained the top challenge for librarians at the Academic Library conference and across the globe. This includes: competing for funding, growing the library's resources within allocated means, and defending the amount of library resources.


2. Communicating about changes in the Library


Changes are inevitable in this digital age but communicating these changes and getting the necessary support for communications is challenging as there are typically many stakeholders involved in the process.


3. Declining patron requests for content


The need to validate library purchases and tight budgets often force librarians to decline patrons’ requests for content.


4. Career advancement


Equipping librarians with the skills they now need is imperative. Job training and career advancement opportunities are vital in helping librarians overcome the challenges they face at work. New and emerging competencies which were not required five to ten years ago, such as data visualization and communication skills, are now required for librarians to become effective at what they do.


5. Keeping up with changing technical requirements


Technology and the internet have had a huge impact on the library and the way it delivers services. The rapid digitization of information has impacted operations and systems in libraries within a very short span of time, resulting in gaps in the skills needed to operate a digital library.


6. Understanding research trends & the librarian’s role in the research cycle


The role a librarian plays in the process of connecting users to information goes beyond making content discoverable. New skill sets such as data management are necessary for librarians to stay ahead of research trends and provide users with the most relevant content in this era of information overload.


7. Staying current on policy changes


The complicated nature of the industry means librarians have to constantly keep abreast of new developments and policies in the scholarly publishing space. It is not easy to decipher the regulations and understand how the changes will affect the library landscape.


8. Managing library operations and tracking staff performance


The complex scholarly publishing network, coupled with an increasing pressure to demonstrate the library’s value, makes the management of library operations and staff performance tracking an ongoing challenge for librarians.


9. Conveying the value of librarians to researchers


Changes in the scholarly publishing space have redefined the roles of librarians, extending far beyond content curation. While this is happening, librarians are finding it a challenge to communicate the value of their work to their constituencies.


10. Managing continuous transition from a print to a digital-based collection


The transition of ‘print to digital’ has been one of the longest standing conversations in the library. On top of managing this transition, librarians are also participating in the dialogue around transforming the physical space in the library to foster better collaboration and accommodate other activities.


What are some of the challenges that you face? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image credit: Greg Epperson/iStockphoto


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

Political pressure to make publicly funded research more accessible is continuing to grow, and keeping informed about the global dynamics of open access and data has never been more important for societies who want to be strategic in their publishing program development.  At the London Wiley Society Executive Seminar in April of 2016, Wiley’s Vice President of Publishing Development, Liz Ferguson, explained how governments all over the world are investing more in Open Access and Open Data.


For highlights from Liz’s talk, listen to the latest episode of the Wiley Society Updates podcast below.




You can also listen to this episode and others – including a review of library funding trends and transformations in publishing technology – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Updates podcast.



Globe graphic.JPG

Open Access and Open Data Policies by Country


Click on a country pin to review information from the podcast. (Note: regions without a pin aren’t covered in the scope of this episode, but don’t necessarily lack policies around access and data.)



    Emma Sayer
Emma Sayer
Lecturer, Lancaster University

g.jpgDespite increased efforts to improve gender equality in academia, gender bias still affects many areas of science. Anecdotal evidence abounds, and recent studies demonstrate continuing discrimination against women during recruitment and underrepresentation of female researchers in positions of prestige (see here and here).


Fewer research publications are authored by women


Scientific publications are the primary measure of research productivity and quality. Authorship of research papers is an important criterion when scientists compete for grants and when they apply for jobs, promotion, or tenure. Publication success is also a key consideration for appointments to editorial boards, scientific panels, and other positions of prestige. Gender bias in academic publishing (real or perceived) could contribute to the high rate of attrition of women from science careers because publication success, recognition, and reputation go hand in hand.


Although more than half the science graduates in many countries are female, women account for fewer than 30% of authorships in scientific publications. Several factors could explain this discrepancy, some of which indicate bias elsewhere in the research pipeline, but the peer review process represents the single biggest "hurdle" to academic publishing success. If editors or reviewers discriminate against female authors, it will compound many of the issues facing women in research careers — simply because women will have to work a lot harder to achieve the same level of productivity and recognition as men. Two studies published this year used behind-the-scenes data on the peer review process to investigate how gender bias might influence the publication process for women scientists (see here and here).


Investigating gender bias at different stages of the peer review process


Members of the editorial team of Functional Ecology, a leading ecological research journal, used 10 years of data from the ScholarOne manuscript submission system to answer questions about the combined influence of gender and seniority on publication success at Functional Ecology. The studies are intriguing because they combine information about editors, reviewers, and authors to explore potential bias at all stages of the peer review process.


Charles Fox, the Executive Editor of Functional Ecology, and colleagues at the University of Kentucky and the British Ecological Society, explored two key aspects of potential gender bias during peer review. First, they asked whether editor and reviewer gender predict the process or outcomes of peer review. This is an important starting point because editorial boards tend to be male-dominated, which could influence reviewer selection. Second, they investigated authorship patterns on submitted manuscripts to determine whether papers authored by women were less likely to be accepted than papers authored by men.


Authorship patterns reveal differences in career stages


The good news is that papers authored by women were just as likely to be accepted as papers authored by men, and neither editor nor reviewer gender influenced recommendations or decisions. Nevertheless, authorship patterns highlight current discrepancies in the representation of men and women at different academic career stages: Around a third of all authors were women, which reflects the proportion of female researchers in environmental science in Europe and the USA. However, there were more female first authors than expected, probably because first authors tend to be students or postdoctoral researchers. On the other hand, women were underrepresented as last (senior) authors; the last listed author is usually the head of a research group or the principal investigator on a project, and women are still very much underrepresented in these senior research positions.


Influence of peer groups and potential bias towards female editors


Interestingly, female editors invited more women to review than did male editors, and this difference was particularly large for more senior (older) editors, probably because many editors look first to their peers to find suitable reviewers and peer groups are likely more gender-structured for older scientists. Alternatively, it could indicate that open discussion of gender bias is altering perceptions, and younger editors are more aware of female researchers in their field.


Unfortunately, Fox and colleagues also uncovered one pattern in the data that appears to point directly at gender bias: Men were less likely to respond to invitations and less likely to agree to review papers if the editor was a woman. Although the difference was small, the greater proportion of men who declined review invitations from female editors could indicate that subconscious bias in perceptions of academic competence or credibility, which appears to be common among students, also extends to established researchers.


Greater awareness of subconscious bias could be crucial


Both studies at Functional Ecology highlight how improvements in gender equality at higher levels can cascade down the career ladder: Papers with a female senior author were more likely to have a woman as first author, and female editors tended to invite more women to review manuscripts than men — especially if the manuscript was authored by a woman. These results are intriguing because they could either reflect gender differences among subdisciplines of ecology or a greater awareness among women of the need to overcome subconscious bias and promote other female researchers.


Continuing efforts to increase recruitment of women to senior academic positions, including journal editorial boards, are likely to create a more even playing field in academic publishing and improve career chances for junior female researchers — especially in subjects where women are currently strongly underrepresented. Addressing explicit gender bias is the first necessary step to achieve this. The next step, eliminating subconscious bias, will be much harder, especially given that men appear to be less likely than women to believe the results of studies on gender bias in science.


Emma Sayer is a lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University. Her research focuses on how ecosytems respond to change.



Want to read more about peer review? We’ll be marking Peer Review Week 2016 with daily blog posts around the theme of recognition in peer review. Read them here on Wiley Exchanges, from September 19th - 23rd!


Image credit: pidjoe/iStockphoto


     Kathi Fountain
Kathi Fountain
Program Manager, Orbis Cascade Alliance

Alliance_logo_official.gifAs a consortium consisting of 37 libraries that vary in size and type — from community colleges to large public research institutions — here at the Orbis Cascade Alliance, we are constantly evaluating how well we meet our members’ needs.


In 2011, the increase of digital book usage at our member institutions correlated with a downturn in resource sharing due to their attendant licenses prohibiting interlibrary loans. After careful consideration, the Alliance decided to pilot a demand-driven acquisitions (DDA) program in response to this emerging issue.


In 2014, we added an e-book subscription database to our offerings to members. This combination of DDA and subscription models for e-books allowed us to pursue access and purchase options in tandem to meet patrons’ front-list and back-list content needs.


However, the subsequent volatility in the DDA marketplace required us to reconsider our program’s approach. Rising short-term loan rates throughout 2014 and 2015 created a series of crises in need of management to keep our activities within budget. It became clear that we needed to consider a change to stabilize our budget as well as our administrative management.


We knew that we wanted the next program we piloted to meet the following goals: build a broadly useful collection, diversify our publisher list, improve cost stability and predictability, improve the percentage of the budget devoted to purchase, reduce barriers to access, and minimize the impact of a fluctuating title pool.


After evaluating eight different acquisition models and reviewing Alliance feedback, we decided to pilot Wiley Online Library’s “Usage Based Collection Management Model (UBCM).” With no automatic triggers and an agreed upon annual expenditure for fiscal year 2017, we will retain full control over title selection and use 100% of our committed funds towards purchases based on evidence of demand at the end of a 12-month discovery period. This model allows us to maintain broad access to Wiley content and to purchase titles with demonstrated use on a predictable budget.


Wiley e-book titles consistently demonstrate high usage across all of our member institutions. Regardless of the size and type of the Alliance’s libraries, they all use Wiley content via DDA and subscription. Wiley publishes a diverse range of titles spanning across the humanities, social sciences, and STEM at a variety of audience levels, ensuring optimal applicability for our member libraries. Wiley’s proposal to the Alliance stipulates a fixed budget for access to 18,000 Wiley titles. The Wiley Online Library platform also provides a familiar interface to those libraries already participating in Wiley’s journal subscription package.


By working directly with Wiley, the Alliance can redirect funds from DDA that would have been spent on Wiley content and receive access to more content at a lower cost with increased sharing rights.


Additionally, Wiley’s complimentary Quarterly Enhanced Usage Reports that identify usage patterns and demand trends will alleviate the burden on librarians to manually collect and analyze data to make purchasing decisions. With this available data and freedom from automatic triggers, we can carefully select purchases at the end of the fiscal year.


In the spirit of transparency, we will be sharing our experiences with this pilot throughout the next year.


If you’d like to learn more about the Orbis Cascade Alliance’s approach to e-book acquisitions, view the slides from this year’s Charleston Library Conference: From DDA to EBA: A Five-year Story from a Consortium Shared E-Book Collection.


And, click here to learn more about Wiley’s Usage Based Collection Management Model.


Kathi Fountain is Program Manager for electronic resources, consortial e-books, and shared collections at the Orbis Cascade Alliance.


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