Vicky Kinsman
Vicky Kinsman
Assistant Marketing Manager

Following on from Wiley’s recent webinar for early career researchers in India, expert editors Katy Dillon and Anne Nijs are here again to share their top tips to help you publish with success. Submitted by our live webinar audience, read on for their answers to your questions about submission, peer review,writing for SEO and more. And don’t forget you can catch up now with the webinar available here on demand to hear the rest of their advice for anyone starting out in their research career.


Anne Nijs is Deputy Editor of the European Journal of Organic Chemistry. Katy Dillon is Associate Journals Editor for the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, which Wiley publishes on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry.


Questions for Anne Nijs

Anne Nijs.png

Q. How long does it take to get a paper published after submission?

A. The reviewing/publication time strongly depends on the area of research and the journal. For the European Journal of Organic Chemistry at Wiley-VCH, the time from submission to publication of the final version of record is about 65 days for Full Articles and 45 days for Short Communications. The average time for Review-type articles is a bit longer with 90 days.


Q. Before submitting a manuscript should I check for plagiarism from my side?

A. It is best to avoid any form of plagiarism (including self-plagiarism) while preparing your manuscript. Therefore, a plagiarism check before submission should not be necessary anymore; however, it is never wrong to check again carefully before submission.


Q. What would the world limit be for a review paper?

A. The word limit strongly depends on the journal and the type of review article, that is, whether it is a comprehensive overview or some form of a mini-review. Mini-reviews serve the same purpose as a full review but are shorter (often with a maximum allowed word limit), have fewer references and do not always provide the same depth of discussion. At the European Journal of Organic Chemistry we publish so-called Microreviews, which are intended to be focused reviews of about 12 typeset journal pages (20–40 manuscript pages). I would always advise to look at the author guidelines of the specific journal for more information on the review type and for instructions on the length, because some journals strictly adhere to this.


Q. Can reviews be published by new authors or is it necessary for reviews to be completed by seasoned authors only?

A. Review articles are most often invited by journals. They provide comprehensive background and detail about all aspects of the topic that have been published to date, and are usually written by more experienced investigators who have established a solid reputation in their field. However, it is not uncommon for early career researchers to write review-type articles; I would advise contacting a journal with a proposal/outline of the planned review article to gauge their interest before undertaking the significant investment of time and effort involved in writing a review.


Q. Is there any importance on usage of special characters in keywords?

A. Try to avoid using special characters or symbols in the keywords as they limit the discoverability of your paper when using search engines, such as Google or SciFinder.


Q. What is the best way to deal with rejection from a review? What should you do if a reviewer rejects with limited feedback or suggestions?

A. Treat this decision as an opportunity to improve your paper! Look at reports carefully and objectively and consider making the recommended changes because an unchanged paper may be sent back to the same referees by the next journal or you might likely get the same or similar comments even from different referees.


Every author has the right to appeal a rejection, but you should only do so if you have solid scientific reasons, that is, the referee has misunderstood the concept of the paper/overlooked key aspects of your work or has scientifically inaccurate reasoning. However, if it is only a matter of difference of opinions, one should not appeal. If you want to appeal a rejection, write a detailed letter to the editor with point-by-point responses to the reviewer’s comments; that means, which changes have you made in response and also provide arguments why certain changes have not been made. Also, include evidence, citations and data to back up your claims. Remember that your response might go back to the previous reviewer(s), so keep it objective and based on scientific aspects. Also, leave it a day or two: things can often look a bit different when they are read a second/third time a few days after initial disappointment.


Q. What is the best tool to use for referencing? 

A. In my experience the best tool for referencing is EndNote.


Q. Is it necessary to have an ORCID ID?

A. Most Wiley journals now require an ORCID ID.  These are a great way to make all your professional work identifiable as yours, especially if you have a common name. You can find out more about ORCID here and use the Wiley Author Compliance tool to check if your journal has an ORCID policy.


Questions for Katy Dillon

Katy Dillion.jpg

Q. What are the requirements for review paper acceptance?  Is there any chance for theoretical review paper acceptance?

A. Editors look for reviews that are comprehensive and, most importantly, provide a critical analysis of the subject.  Remember also to check for a maximum word count so that you do not exceed it.  With regard to theoretical review papers, this will vary from journal to journal, so check the author guidelines carefully and contact the editorial office if you are unsure.


Q. Are there concessions available to publishing fees?

A. There are discounts and waivers available to authors based in certain countries, as well as discounts for members of particular learned societies in specific journals.  More information can be found here.


Q. Where can I find out more about SEO?

A. Advice on writing for SEO can be found here on the Wiley Author Services page.


Q. I find some journals in the field to be similar based on aims and scope. However, my paper will probably find a home only in one. How should I select the most probable home from this set so that I avoid repeated rejection until I find the paper a home?

A. There is no guaranteed way of getting the right journal the first time, and it is a tricky thing to judge.  To increase your chances of getting accepted by your first selection, study their recent publications closely.  Are they publishing the kind of studies that your paper is based on?  How does the novelty of your research compare to what has been published?  Is your paper aimed at the same kind of audience as the current publications?  You can also improve your chances of acceptance by avoiding common reasons for rejection: make sure you are certain that your manuscript fits the journal Aims and Scope, have the language of your paper checked to make sure it is the best it can be, and consult the author guidelines to make sure you have tailored your paper to the journal (editors appreciate the extra effort that shows you are interested in their journal in particular).  Some journals refer promising but unsuitable manuscripts to a companion journal, which could work to your advantage, so check whether this is an option.  You can also send an abstract to the journal’s editorial office before you submit, to check its suitability.  Not all journals will answer these pre-submission queries, but many will.


Q. Is there any software or tool which can rephrase our language to give the most appropriate scientific English words?

A. I’m not aware of one, and translation or editing by a human being gives you the best chance to get nuances of language right.  Wiley offers editing and translation services where subject experts will work on your paper.


Q. Do you have any advice for new writers or PhD scholars?

A. Think about your manuscript from the point of view of the person reading it.  Is it clear to someone who doesn’t know your research what the aim and context of your work is?  Are there any details that need explaining?  Could someone reproduce your experiment using the description in your manuscript?  Also think about your own experience as a reader – what do you like and dislike when reading papers?




For further practical tips and expert guidance on the process of writing and submitting your research, the peer review process and post-publication SEO and promotion, visit our webinar channel where all of our content  is available for free and on demand.


    Michael Willis
Michael Willis
Senior Manager, Peer Review


528569350.jpgBack in July 2015 we featured an interview with Professor Flaminio Squazzoni, the Chair of the EU-funded COST Action ‘PEERE: New frontiers of peer review’. To recap, this is a multidisciplinary international project exploring questions in how peer review is conducted and the factors influencing how journal submissions are peer reviewed, and seeking to make evidence-based recommendations about peer review.


A prerequisite to making evidence-based decisions is, of course, having data. For the PEERE project the data are supplied by journals and their publishers. Earlier in March a protocol for sharing peer review data was finalized and signed by representatives from Wiley, Elsevier and Springer Nature. The protocol gives clear directives as to how data are to be stored and safeguarded compliant with all legal requirements. Wiley will contribute peer review data from 100 journals, all of which will be fully anonymized and privacy ensured.  So it will not, for example, be possible to trace specific peer reviews back to identifiable authors or reviewers, or to find out who reviewed a particular paper for any given journal. But there will be plenty of data for PEERE researchers to investigate various aspects of how peer review works – for example networks between authors and reviewers (are you more likely to have your paper accepted if you have previously collaborated with a reviewer?) or gender bias in peer review (are male editors more likely to select male reviewers?). You can see some of the research PEERE researchers have already conducted on very limited data sets on the PEERE website.


As well as facilitating research into peer review by the PEERE project, the inter-publisher agreement and protocol is expected to set a standard for future similar initiatives into collaborative research between, for example, publishers, funding agencies and researchers.


The PEERE project is funded through to May 2018; between now and then, alongside conducting evidence-based research, PEERE researchers will hold another couple of workshops reporting on this research. But the highlight of the project will be a ‘training school’ for peer reviewers taking place in Italy in early 2018. It should be of particular interest to early career researchers with a keen interest in knowing how to better conduct peer review, but doubtless the most seasoned journal editor will benefit from learning about research into this most critical of activities in the publication process.


What would you most like to learn about the peer review process? Let us know in the comments below.


Image credit: GCShutter/Getty Images


    Noel McGlinchey
Noel McGlinchey
Senior Editorial Assistant

Every Editorial Office experiences difficulties with late reviews. Arguably, the biggest sin a reviewer can commit, outside of dishonesty, is to promise a review and then fail to send it in. Manuscripts become delayed, authors get upset and editors get stressed. Furthermore, while journals with fast turnaround times like to publicize them, it is clear that without effective and timely reviewers no peer review journal could possibly achieve a rapid service for authors.


Editorial Offices also tend to send a series of automatic e-mails to reviewers once they have agreed to contribute a review. These start with an initial confirmatory e-mail giving instructions and the date by which the review is due. This is followed by a series of reminder e-mails up to (and beyond) the due date. For the purposes of this story I’ll refer to all automatic e-mails as Reminders. The question a team of interested Peer Review management practitioners gathered from around 30 Wiley Editorial Offices across the globe set out to answer was:


Can reviewer turnaround times be improved by better scheduling of Reminders?


With so many offices involved in the study, it was possible to study the natural variation in the use of Reminders from historical data (from October 2015) to see how factors such as the days on which Reminders were sent; number of Reminders and the amount of time reviewers were allowed to return their reviews (Time Allowed) affected outcomes between Editorial Offices. The average time (Median Days) for reviews to be returned was considered as well as the longest review time for each office within the time frame studied (Maximum Days). The final results were surprising.


Days Allowed for Peer Review

The vast majority of Editorial Offices set Time Allowed at 14 or 21 days. In this time period most offices sent three to five Reminders, with 21 day offices tending to send out more. This wasn’t very surprising but the trend that emerged next was a bit more interesting.


Reducing Days Allowed seemed to reduce Maximum Days to Return Reviews (see figure 1) The trends aren’t statistically significant. However, the Median Days line from 21 to 14 Days Allowed shows a clear drop from 38 to 22 in terms of Maximum Days. Late reviews are those that cause the most problems. So, if reducing Days Allowed reduces late reviews it seems well worth giving it a go.


NM Slide 1.jpg

Figure 1


Of course the data is not statistically significant and (famously) correlation does not show causation. Without a wider range of data (i.e. from a journal with 30 Days Allowed or 7 Days Allowed) it’s difficult for statistical techniques to pick out statistically significant trends. There is also bound to be a lot of natural variation between journals run by different editorial teams in different styles which would also obscure trends.


Number of Reminders

With such differences in outcomes correlating with Days Allowed it was important to consider the rest of the data in two sets: a 21 Days Allowed set and a 14 Days Allowed set. Looking specifically at the 21 Days set it’s pretty clear that the number of reminders sent out is very important (see figure 2). If there are fewer than two reminders, Maximum Days will be longer. Increasing the number of reminders above four doesn’t have an effect on Median Days but does seem to have a slight effect on reducing Maximum Days. So, four to five Reminders seems to be the useful limit on a 21 day review period. Further data in journals allowing only 14 days indicates there’s little point sending more than three Reminders. Note: the initial confirmatory e-mail counts as a Reminder.


NM Slide 2.jpg

Figure 2


Timing of Reminders

When comparing the timing of the last Reminder for 21 Day journals, a last reminder sent on Day 14 would be 7 days before due date while one sent on day 19 would be 2 days before due date (see figure 3). Whether looking at journals sending reminders close to 7 days before the deadline or close to the actual deadline itself; correlations were all less than r-squared = 0.1. This means that there’s a 90% chance that the timing of Reminders has no effect. So, in everyday terms, the timing of Reminders is irrelevant. It’s the number of Reminders and Days Allowed that count.


NM Slide 3.jpg

Figure 3

How does this make sense?

Do you have an editor who always answers e-mails on the day you send them? (If so, please can I come and work with you?) Academics, not even editors with a strong commitment, don’t tend to read e-mails as they arrive. They travel, carry out studies, lecture and even sleep. I can imagine a reviewer with only one reminder from ‘The Slow Journal of Slowness’ in her inbox might think that their review isn’t urgent while ‘Fast Journal’ may already have 4 Reminders sitting there unread. If you are a Reviewer with outstanding reviews from both journals which one will you do first? So, the take away message is to make sure you are sending out enough reminders and don’t worry too much about the exact order of their deployment as long as it is reasonable. And therein lies a whole maze worthy of Capability Brown, full of avenues of research.


What Next?

In light of this, if you decide to reduce Days Allowed on some of your journals or alter the number of Reminders sent out, please get in touch. It would be great if we could establish a cause-and-effect together. Reach out in the comments below and I would be pleased to help with data analysis.


    Katey Maye
Katey Maye
Library Services, Wiley

Why are more than 50% of academic libraries reportedly using a demand-driven approach as part of their online book acquisition strategy? Check out eight reasons we’ve uncovered to account for the seismic shift in library collection development.


UBCM 8 Reasons infographic Final.jpg


To learn more about Wiley’s Usage-Based Collection Management Model and how your institution can participate, please contact your account manager.


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

In April 2017, Adam Hart, biologist, broadcaster, author, and Professor of Science Communication at the University of Gloucestershire, will speak to 100 society leaders at the Wiley Society Executive Seminar in London about improving research impact by engaging with the media. We asked him to share his thoughts about why science communication beyond the published article is so important, and what societies can do to better support their members.



Q: Why is it important for people outside of the scientific and scholarly community to understand research?

A: Firstly, there are groups of people for whom scientific understanding is crucial. Politicians and others that strongly influence society are faced with a great many existential problems that are fundamentally scientific in nature. These problemsclimate change, food production, environmental destruction, energy generation, antibiotic resistanceplay out globally, and without an appreciation of the science behind them it is difficult to comprehend their impact or to assess the worth of different solutions. I think this actually applies to everyone who wants to be an active and responsible citizen at whatever geographical scale they choose to identify.


But away from the bigger picture, science is the greatest tool we have for understanding the universe and many people have a huge appetite for scientific detail and discovery. We cannot hold science within the scientific community; everyone has a right (and I believe many also have a duty) to share in, and gain from, scientific research.


Q: What role can the media play in helping researchers communicate their work to a broader audience?

A: The media is absolutely critical but its role is complex and traditional media risks being left behind. It is now possible for people to access all manner of scientific information at whatever level they may wish to engage, including original research papers via Open Access. Social media and blogs mean that information can be analyzed and shared by anyone. The major problem, as we are now realizing, is that correctly and usefully interpreting complex information is difficult. Partly, I think that stems from the fact that science is often viewed more as a source of trivia or clickbait than as a philosophical approach to understanding; knowing the distance to the nearest star seems to be more important than knowing how to calculate it. But interpreting science requires an appreciation of some of the “mechanisms” of science as well as an ability to analyze, and to do so critically.


The traditional media have an important role to play if they can provide a sense of authority when presenting science. However, as we can see from TV output these days, there is a feeling that science must be “fun” or “inspiring.” Despite this, fewer people watch today’s science series than used to tune into complex and authoritative information every week on Tomorrow’s World. Yes, people watch TV differently now and there is more competition, but dramas and reality shows still pull in the crowds. That appetite for complex information is still out there but I am not convinced that traditional media always hits the mark (BBC Radio 4 and BBC4 being notable exceptions).


Q: How can learned societies and associations best support their research communities to engage with the media?

A: I think there are three ways to help. Firstly, journals published by societies and associations should be more promotional in terms of contacting the media with interesting research. It doesn’t need to be potential Nobel-material and neither does it need to be quirky. But interesting research is worthwhile sharing via a well-crafted press release, or perhaps by emailing a producer of programs like Science in Action or Inside Science. If the media don’t know about it, they can’t cover it.


Developing sections such as Graphical Abstracts, Lay Summaries and “In a nutshell” summaries for papers, as well as encouraging authors to write clear and, as far as possible, jargon-free abstracts would also help.


Finally, I think that societies have the scope and gravitas to run more effective “media training” than is offered in many universities (and many societies do so already). However, I think such sessions could be better badged to attract more people to engage and be far more practical than they often turn out to be. “Media practice” using recent papers, developing press releases and practicing (and listening back critically to!) the sort of interview you might experience if I was talking to you for Science in Action ,for example, can help one gain confidence and skill very rapidly.


Q: You’ve spent your career helping to bridge the gap between academia and the general public. Who inspires you?

A: I’ve been lucky to interview many scientists – and I’ve virtually always finished an interview inspired by their dedication, knowledge and in many cases, their humor! So I have to say that it is the scientists telling their stories that inspire me the most.


Adam is a frequent broadcaster on radio and TV, co-presenting the BBC TV documentaries Planet Ant and Hive Alive and presenting numerous radio documentaries for BBC Radio 4. He also presents the weekly program Science in Action for BBC World Service. Adam is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, the Royal Society of Biology and the Higher Education Academy and is also a National Teaching Fellow.


The theme for Wiley’s annual Society Executive Seminar in London this year is “Partnering to Support the Research Process.” Our speakers will explore how societies, publishers, and others in the research community can work together to support research practice, enable research communication, and enhance research impact. For more information, please contact Anna Ehler (aehler@wiley.com).


Image Credit: Adam Hart


    Vicky Kinsman
Vicky Kinsman
Assistant Marketing Manager

If you’re just starting out in your research career, one of the first challenges you might face is deciding which journal is right for your submission. With so many prestigious journals out there, which one is going to give you the best chances of publishing successfully?  Based on the expert advice of our editors, we’ve put together the guide below to give you an overview of the questions you need to ask and the points you need to consider in order to choose the RIGHT journal for your work.


Choose your journal_HIRes.jpg


For further practical tips on choosing a journal,along with expert guidance on the process of writing and submitting your research, the peer review process and post-publication SEO and promotion, join us at our forthcoming  FREE webinar Introduction to Publishing for Early Career Researchers in Latin America or if you’re based elsewhere in the world, then catch-up now with our webinar Introduction to Publishing for Early Career Researchers, available on-demand from our webinar channel.





     Chris Graf
Chris Graf
Society Partnership Director, Wiley

Email screen.jpgSome recent communications from companies involved in academic publishing have some journal representatives worried. In one instance, a manuscript editing company offered to pay an editor to help its papers get published in his journal; in another, a research ethics company threatened to investigate all of an author’s papers if he or she didn’t donate thousands to support the company’s efforts. Bottom line: Research authors (and editors) should beware companies offering unethical manuscript editing and other publishing services. Below are examples (which have been verified) compiled by Chris Graf, Co-Vice Chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and Society Partnership Director at Wiley; Richard Holt, editor-in-chief of Diabetic Medicine and researcher at the University of Southampton; Tamara Welschot, the Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Services at Springer Nature; and Matt Hodgkinson, Head of Research Integrity, Hindawi Limited.


We share for the benefit of researchers (and journal editors and publishers) three new warnings cut from the same cloth as other recent peer review “scams.” These warnings appear to indicate that third parties continue to attempt to inappropriately influence peer review and journal publishing.


Here are the details.


Richard Holt, editor-in-chief of the journal Diabetic Medicine, received an email purportedly sent in the name of a Chinese commercial manuscript editing company. The email described how due to language problems, it is not easy for doctors to publish medical research. The email explained that the company was seeking a partner who should be an editor or chief editor of a journal for “collaborative business” to help doctors achieve this goal. The authors of the email expressed their hope that the editor “can utilize his/her position to help us publish our manuscripts quickly and successfully.” An attachment described how they hope (we quote):


  1. The review process of our submissions are supposed to be within one months;
  2. Use your position to lead our manuscripts to final acceptance for publication in your journal. For example, if our manuscripts are not well prepared, and are rejected by one or even all reviewers, please invite more peers to review them, or judge a major revision to resubmission. Our authors will do their best to improve the manuscripts;
  3. We pay $1000 for each manuscript on the condition it is accepted for publication thanks to your help.


Holt wrote back, advising that he believed this to be unethical. He added he would report this to COPE.


Tamara Welschot, Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Services, Springer Nature, and colleagues were notified of another incident by an author who received an email from an organization described as “a not-for-profit movement working in the field of promoting ethics in scientific research”. The email explains how the organization “provides training and professional services to individuals and organizations on fighting fraud in research and publication” and how they identified “significant instance of research misconduct” in figures published in a particular paper. The email’s authors indicate that they will report this to the research authors’ institution and suggest “The Ministry of Education China, Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and Chinese Academy of Science” may be “particularly interested.”


No particular surprises so far. This is quite common to the language and approach used by anonymous whistleblowers. However, the email then becomes more sinister. The email’s authors state “You decided to ignore our earlier email, before we investigate all of your publications we would like to give you a chance.” And they go on to say:


You can avoid all of these proceedings if you support our project with a donation of 2000 USD through the donation link mentioned on our website… If we do not receive the requested amount within two days (from the date of this email) then we will automatically initiate the proceedings.


On investigation, the names and images of the people named online as running the organization appeared to be fake and the website appeared to plagiarize from an article on ethical publishing. Welschot and colleagues reported the case to COPE.


Matt Hodgkinson, Head of Research Integrity, Hindawi Limited, and colleagues received an email from what appeared to be an “article broker” in Russia. The email states that the broker needs to publish 500 to 1500 research articles during 2017 “to fulfill the task of our Ministry of Education”. They offer to “pre-select good quality articles and send them to your journals”, which would be “written by the leading scientists from Russia.” They ask:


"What are the conditions and timing? … Do you accept payments via PayPal?"


While less egregious than the examples above, the contents of this email appear to suggest that the broker may lack understanding of how peer review works and would place themselves between the research authors and the journal, whereas the publisher expects that “Manuscripts should be submitted by one of the authors of the manuscript.” Hodgkinson and colleagues decided not to respond, and shared the case with COPE.


Our message to research authors is to be wary of companies that offer you manuscript editing and publication services. Be sure, before you agree to work with them, that they act ethically and to the standards you expect. If they appear to promise they will “get your research published,” then stop and think twice. Ask how they engage with journals. Ask what they think about recent peer review scams. Only work with companies where you are satisfied with their ethics.


Our message to editors, when they receive emails like this, is to check with your publisher for advice and consider reporting your experience to COPE. And then consider “going public,” as we have done here, to warn research authors, other journal editors, and all of us who share an interest in trustworthy research and evidence “as the bedrock of public policy and the solutions to our most urgent problems, from protecting public health to mitigating climate change.”


This post was first published on Retraction Watch on March 7, 2017 and is re-posted here with permission. For more on problems involving third parties in publishing, see the Retraction Watch archive of such cases.


Image Credit: Gavin Dunt/iStockphoto


    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

In a follow up to our popular post on tips for using surveys to better understand your membership, we spoke again with Joe Stephan from Broadview Analytics to take a deeper look at how sophisticated analysis can help you offer the right range of benefits to meet diverse member needs.



Listen to the previous episode: 3 Things Societies Can Do to Promote Research Integrity


You can also listen to this episode and others – including how governments are driving open science and how to make sense of science for the public – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Podcast.


    Jory Lerback
Jory Lerback
Graduate Student, University of Utah
Former Data Analyst, the American Geophysical Union’s Publications

Social and environmental justice issues were the theses of my college applications. As a ethnically mixed woman who graduated with a BA in geology, diversity has always been at the forefront of my mind. Becoming a data analyst at the AGU provided me the opportunity to delve into an aspect of this important issue (especially in 2016, ugh): gender bias in the sciences. I have since returned to the world of groundwater hydrology at the University of Utah, where these sorts of issues will inevitably impact my career.  Furthermore, as a young researcher just starting to participate as an author and reviewer, I’ll be living this study…


In my recent publication with Brooks Hanson, we highlight STEM’s gender gap between published first authors (experts) and those reviewing papers as experts in the geosciences. This has been  studied before, but these other studies have mostly either assigned gender to first names (This can be problematic…for example, could you simply guess the gender of either author of this paper?), smaller sample sizes, and have not accounted for age. Accounting for age helps reveal some important but otherwise hidden differences.


The American Geophysical Union (AGU), as both a membership and publishing organization, can observe the demographics of people interacting with our publishing system. For context, women are 28% of membership- similar to employed US STEM people. Understanding and measuring our own inclusivity makes us a smarter and more equitable community. I liked this project especially as it illuminates a source of exclusivity that isn’t normally considered in one’s day to day life, but shows a mechanism of how small differences in our decisions impact the careers of entire groups over time.


Measuring the inclusivity of reviewing manuscripts, specifically, is important to the community and our science in a few ways…


For the Individual, reviewing improves writing, and critical thinking skills as well as gives an insider’s look at the frontiers of science in their field. Reviewing also presents networking opportunities: this is important for career development, recognition, and future collaborations. The work is noted for membership society recognition, and can be acknowledged and credited with the advent of ORCID’s.


For Science, generally, inclusivity of views and diverse ways of thought are a primary driver for peer review- because it makes our science more rigorous. Different experiences lead to  creative understanding of subject matter. Additionally, understanding and acknowledging our biases makes us, as scientists, better leaders (especially important in this political climate).


Figure: Reviewer distribution by age as compared to other scholarly activities.


What we found:

We were surprised to find that women have higher acceptance rates than men (61% vs. 57%, respectively). Below are some possible explanations. Note that this is not an exhaustive list and the truth is probably somewhere mixed up and in-between.


  • Women submit less often than men (2.5 vs. 3.3 papers, respectively, per first author in the study period), and therefore may have more time and resources to dedicate to each manuscript.
  • Women expect higher obstacles than their male peers (because of public rhetoric that everything for women in science is harder 1-6), leading to more work on each paper.
  • Women are more conservative in submitting papers, needing to be “very certain” rather than a man’s “pretty certain”.
  • (Using ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’) women are smarter. The difference in acceptance rates should be even larger because women are still experiencing bias in the reviewing process, deflating their acceptance rates.
  • Okay, yes. Perhaps reverse sexism exists.


However, I think it is more probable that women are just preparing more thoroughly. Women are taught that if “John” and “Jane” are equal, “John” is still seen as better. Wouldn’t they learn that they have to be better in order to be seen as equal?Given that women are less likely to be promoted, given raises and other career-advancing opportunities, we were primed to expect what we found; Women don’t review papers (20% of reviewers) as often as you might expect from their participation rates as first authors, all authors, or members (27, 23, and 28%, respectively). This is not just that reviewers are from older age cohorts, which are male dominated, but a cumulative effect from all age cohorts.The gap mostly stems from both authors and editors not suggesting or inviting women. Things to consider:


  • Do you stop to think about whether you’re representing your field equitably when filling out reviewer suggestion boxes?
  • Do you pick reviewers that you’ve heard about in a positive light?
  • Who of your colleagues do you praise the most?
  • Who first comes to mind when you think of “genius”? “Hard worker”? Think about these implicit associations.

While overall women do not decline more often than men, they do within each age cohort. We think that the overall non-difference would prevent any negative feedback loops, but the age-related differences prompted us to think about a couple of things… Why is this happening? We looked at people’s decline responses, but overwhelmingly the response from both genders for review declines was that they were too busy. This isn’t really useful in parsing out gender-related differences, so we have to make an educated guess...


  • Are women being asking to be on more committees and expected to do more outreach and non-academic work?
  • Are women shouldering more household/family duties?
  • Are women falling prey to “impostor syndrome” (where they don’t consider themselves experts, when anyone else would)?


What you can do to help inclusivity in peer review:


To Scientists-


As a scientist, it is important to address your own and your community’s awareness of the larger problem. Self assessment and opening up to dialogue about these sorts of issues will help you create the social accountability necessary for change. I am actually creating an organization in my college to create this type of dialogue to apply to our Science and professional community. You might consider doing the same, if groups such as this likely don’t already operate at your institution.


As an author, you should be aware that editors take your suggestions seriously, using about 30% of your suggested reviewers. The list you give them might pre-dispose them (anyone, really) to think of a certain group of people similar to your list.


To Editors and Publishers-


Same thing: awareness, self assessment, social accountability. Action, too. In a constructive way, of course. Be an advocate for those under-represented voices! I hope you frame these findings in a positive light- as a previously unrecognized opportunity for growth.

A more transparent process of choosing reviewers might pave the way for a more equitable distribution of reviewers. Accessing all potential reviewers may decrease the load of those currently doing the work, and meet the growing demand of reviewing work.


Double-blind review would surely take away bias in the reviews, but also takes away the networking and collaborative benefits it provides. Double-blinding the peer review process is treating the symptom, not the source of the problem.

To Everyone-


Gender, while not ideally measured as a binary, is easily collected and readily self-reported. It is useful to examine as a large dataset to examine a marginalized group. This study is an example of how career opportunities are afforded to a lesser extent to underrepresented people. Think about how opportunity gaps might magnify into larger differences later in one’s career and how other groups may be impacted by the same social mechanisms that affect women here.


What is your personal experience with gender bias and peer review? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

98680780.jpgA diverse and inclusive research enterprise is critical for advancing our understanding of the world. To support this endeavor and celebrate International Women’s Day, we are proud to announce the inaugural Women in Research Travel Grant Competition.


Our judges—society leaders and editors-in-chief from more than ten disciplines—shared their thoughts and insights about gender parity and diversity in research.


Virtually all of our judges shared a conviction that multiple perspectives in research results in better solutions.


Vicki McConnell, Geological Society of America, said, “I have learned there is more than one way to tackle a problem. That is how I have approached my research and geoscience career and I am sure that it’s the same with many women in science. It is what women and diversity bring to research - viewpoints and ideas to tackle vexing research questions from a slightly different angle. Whether it is how to assemble your research team, work through a project from start to finish solo, or asking the research question differently; that is the beauty of science and the universe we live in viewed through a diverse lens.”

As Elissa Chesler, from the International Behavioural and Neural Genetics Society, wrote, “Despite tremendous examples of significant scientific contributions by women, many women still experience barriers to entry into the field and on arrival, find both well-known and unexpected hurdles. Some have even come to believe that the research environment is not the enlightened space that they want to inhabit. To ensure that humanity’s scientific pursuits benefit from the perspectives that everyone has to offer, it is essential to provide women and girls experience in a research environment where they can invent, engineer and discover, exposing them to the satisfying, rewarding and meaningful careers in science.”


Some pointed out that the absence of varied perspectives has led to a lack of understanding in some fields. These judges share how the inclusion of women in research challenges established ideas:


Sally Johnstone, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, shared, “The evidence is clear, the more diverse a research team, the more likely the evidence can be generalized.  While there are many women in educational research, the gender equity in neuroscience is lacking.  A critical aspect of understanding learning is linked directly to neuroscience. Forty years ago neuroscience researchers focused primarily on male subjects, believing them to have less biological variability than females.  Models were developed that only described ½ the human race.  It is only as we enable more women to join research teams that inclusive models can develop.”

Sally Scholz, Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, wrote, “Research in the humanities draws on centuries of ideas, endless resources, and profound wisdom. Researchers learn from the tragic failures and inspiring triumphs of real historical figures as well as important fictional characters. We explore cultures that build bridges of understanding across political divides. Research by and about women pushes the boundaries of the traditional canon in Philosophy, English, History, and Theology and challenges accepted presuppositions: it opens a future where diverse voices receive pride of place, new ideas flourish, and human relations deepen in complexity.”


Many judges also expressed the need for role models for future generations of scientists.


Kim E. Barrett, The Physiological Society, stated, “I cannot over-stress the importance of including all groups in the scientific enterprise, and especially women.  Women have traditionally been under-represented in science, which can lead to a vicious cycle where girls do not aspire to scientific careers due to a lack of visible role models.  But social science research teaches us that the most robust solutions to challenging problems arise when diverse teams work on the issue.  And from a pragmatic standpoint, at a time when scientific workforce needs may outstrip the supply of well-trained individuals, we can’t afford to ignore 50% of the population.”

Pamela McGrath, Australian Anthropological Society, wrote, “When I began my graduate studies, one of the very first books that my (male) supervisor set me to read was '50 Key Contemporary Thinkers', published in 1994. Of the fifty 'thinkers' it reviewed, only six were women, three of whom were explicitly identified in relation to feminism. Until such time as women have the same opportunities as men to pursue research careers dedicated to 'thinking'--and not just thinking about women--we will continue to be disempowered, and the public knowledges upon which we all rely to make important decisions about our lives will remain biased towards particular perspectives that fail to do justice to the diversity of our world."


Others reaffirmed a commitment to removing barriers that prevent intersectional perspectives.


Frances Hughes, International Council of Nurses, stated, “As a female-dominated profession, we know of the critical importance of women’s contributions to game-changing research and practice. When women are active in science and research fields, it unlocks the agenda, ensuring women’s health is on the table. In order to reframe the study of health and disease in an inclusive, intersectional perspective of gender identity, race, disability, neurodiversity or sexuality, women must continue to take down the barriers that prevent them from getting involved.”

Susan Wray, The Physiological Society, wrote, “It is frustrating that we still need to be making the case for attracting, keeping and promoting women in science. We all know how it benefits science and society to have the widest and most inclusive workforce and we must continue to make these points and challenge when needed.

Rebecca Rinehart, American Psychiatric Association, wrote, “The research agenda for the 21st century must embrace a diversity of contributions if it is to address the future needs of society as a whole.  An important part of that contribution comes from women, many of whom must strive to balance multiple priorities to pursue career, family, and personal and professional enrichment. The inclusion of women in the rich mixture of scientific research creates an environment open to others of varied ethnicity, sexuality, and racial background.”


Others pointed out that even in fields nearing or reaching gender parity, the proportion of women in leadership positions in those fields was still lagging.


Monica Di Luca, Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, stated, "In 2014, women represented less than 40% of the members of scientific and administrative boards at a national level in 14 countries. Careful analysis demonstrated that at the level of graduate students there is no difference between the number of female and male graduates, but the higher up the system we go, the fewer women we found.

It does not make sense to educate and carefully steer trainees through the system and then simply watch them drop out. We need the diversity of women and men to tackle major challenges in research. "


From the benefits of diverse perspectives in the research process, to finding role models for future scientists, our judges all agree that inclusion and opportunity are essential for the success of research. For these reasons, and many more, we are proud to announce our Women in Research Travel Grant Competition. We encourage you to contribute your own perspective, share with your peers and enter the competition here.


Image Credit: Blend Images/Getty Images


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

Women have made immeasurable contributions to scientific and scholarly research in the face of discrimination and exclusion. Though many fields are nearing gender parity, there is still work to be done to ensure the research enterprise is truly inclusive.


To commemorate International Women’s Day this year, in this comic strip we are highlighting a small number of the bold thinkers who have opened doors for other women to follow.


Share your story with our Women in Research Travel Grant Competition. Tell us what you think about inclusion and diversity in your field, and you could win $2,000 USD. For more information, check out today's post on women in research.


    Virginia Chanda
Virginia Chanda
Publisher, Current Protocols

A and N photography Shutterstock.jpgThe NIH has enacted initiatives to enhance reproducibility of research through rigor and transparency. It has been noted that many factors have contributed to inherent problems with reproducibility, including poor training of researchers in experimental design and limitations in published materials and methods sections, such that basic (and important) elements of the protocol and materials used are often left out of papers (Nature 27 Jan 2014).


Fortunately, the main goal of the Current Protocols program is to provide researchers with reliable, robust methods that will ensure reproducible results. The success of the program is due to the careful selection of content and the rigorous editing process that ensures consistency in experimental approaches.


What are Current Protocols?

The Current Protocols collection includes over 18,000 step-by-step techniques and procedures across all areas of the life sciences. Current Protocols provides researchers with reliable, efficient methods to ensure reproducible results that pave the way for critical scientific discovery.


Our Editing Process

The extensive editing process embedded in the creation of Current Protocols ensures the highest quality laboratory techniques, effectively safeguarding the validity of researchers’ results.


There are three levels of editing for Current Protocols content. First, the content of each title is curated by an editorial board of respected scientists who are experts in their fields. They carefully plan the content and invite the best scientists to write the protocols and share their tips and expertise. The editors are careful to select techniques that they know will work. They will often discuss cutting-edge research, but before a method is published in Current Protocols, they ensure that other labs have used the method successfully and that it generates reproducible results. The goal is a superior user experience.


CP editorial boards are responsible for the peer review process, and also regularly review the published content to determine what content needs to be updated. The updating is an important aspect of Current Protocols to ensure that the methods are current.


Following the expert review of the content, Current Protocols Ph.D. developmental editors perform a review optimized for the evaluation of protocols. These editors anticipate the questions that may arise when performing a protocol, and consider the clarity of the protocol.


Finally, Current Protocols copy editors, who are also scientists, review the accepted manuscript with painstaking care. They focus on every experimental detail to eliminate ambiguity. Materials lists and buffer recipes are checked. The copy editors also make sure the format and style are consistent with Current Protocols requirements. This ensures consistency of information and level of detail in each article for quality and ease-of-use.


This careful choice of content, the rigorous three-step editing process, and a meticulous attention to detail make Current Protocols a must-have tool to ensure reproducibility in research.


To learn more about how your institution can purchase access to Current Protocols, please contact your account manager.


Image Credit: A and N photography/Shutterstock


    Jenny Neophytou
Jenny Neophytou
Bibliometrics Analyst, Wiley

The world of citation metrics can be a confusing one- what do all these metrics mean, and how are they used to benchmark the performance of articles and journals? We’ve put together this infographic based on our previously published post to give you a quick overview of the key citation metrics and what they tell us.




Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: