Personal statement on publishing and peer review

This page is for summarising my personal position on publishing and peer-review. I am making my principles public in order to avoid causing any offence if, for example, I find myself in a position where I have to reject somebody’s kind invitation to publish in an edited volume, or a request to review a paper or to examine a dissertation. I hope that by being transparent it will be easier to do all of these things in a smarter way.

My policy on edited volumes and conference proceedings

Miss Nancy Mitford is unable to do as you ask

I cannot commit to publishing in edited volumes, including conference proceedings. This is simply because the publication cycle for these works always exceeds the average length of a postdoctoral contract, sometimes by a factor of many. What this means is that I never really know if I’ll be available to put in the time and effort on a chapter when the editor requests it. Please don’t hesitate to invite me anyway since I may be in a position to agree, but don’t be offended if I reject your invitation or ignore a call-for-papers.

My policy on choosing journals to submit to

I choose to publish in journals where I expect to get the most relevant feedback from editors and reviewers. Accordingly I do not always submit to OA journals, but I will always make a pre-print available online, and I will send a full published version to anyone who makes the request via email.

My policy on reviewing papers

I am always happy to review papers in the field of Philippine studies, Australian studies, linguistic anthropology and writing system research. I am unlikely to agree to review papers on grammar or applied linguistics, even if they intersect with languages that are familiar to me.

Otherwise, there are only a few circumstances in which I will decline to review a paper: if it is beyond my expertise, if I have already reviewed an unusually high number within the year, if I have already reviewed several papers by the same author, if the journal is owned by Elsevier, if the author/editor does not provide access to the data that the paper relies on.

I stand by my review comments so I’m happy to be identified by name to the author at the editors’ discretion.

My policy on being reviewed

Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him

I will never waste anyone’s time by submitting a paper that I believe to be sub-standard. So if it turns out that my paper that you’re editing or reviewing is objectively terrible, that’s because I’m a terrible scholar, not a terrible person. Please assume good faith and take licence to be as critical as possible.

I will address all peer revisions, or give full explanations as to why I haven’t in a given instance. I am happy to make further necessary editorial changes after peer revisions are already incorporated into a draft, but on ethical grounds I will not modify core content or analysis because these requested changes will not have been assessed by reviewers.

My position on peer-review models

Peer review is by no means perfect, but I believe the best model available is the group-consolidated method promoted by eLife that addresses two of the biggest drawbacks of classical models: pace of review and quality control. You can read about the eLife review process here. I also in favour of post-publication peer review.
I reject the practice of editors rejecting manuscripts after they have passed peer review and after the author has incorporated requested revisions according to editorial direction. If the editors cannot commit to publishing a manuscript that passes peer review it ought to be rejected at the editorial desk and not sent out for review at all. Otherwise the time of the peer reviewers and the author has been wasted. I will not review or submit to journals with this policy.