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In my last post, I argued (ranted?) about how authors should acknowledge the work done by peer reviewers in their manuscript.  Being an ecologist, I wanted to quantify this somehow, so I took the most recent issues of Ecology (Vol. 92, no. 12; 2012), the Journal of Animal Ecology (Vol. 82, no. 1; 2013) and Oecologia (Vol. 171, no. 2; 2013).  Each issue contained 25-27 research articles (i.e., not an editorial or book review).  Here are the numbers:

 

Thanked anonymous reviewers

Journal

Yes

No

Ecology

12

13

Journal of Animal Ecology

14

11

Oecologia

12

15

Overall

38

39

 

So just under half of the papers don’t acknowledge the reviewers.  A couple of points: some of these papers did acknowledge others who had read the manuscript, and identified them by name; some of these could be reviewers who chose not to remain anonymous.  Almost all the papers thanked some funding agency (I think there was one that didn’t).

But why should we thank these anonymous persons who act as gate-keepers?  Because without them, there would be no peer-reviewed science.  Even if the reader (or authors) don’t know who the reviewers are, I think they should still be included.  After all, readers don’t know how much “J.D. Smith” contributed to the lab work (heck, he could’ve been the undergrad hired to wash the glassware).  In some cases, I’ve sent an article of interest to a colleague who wrote back to say that they had reviewed it (and usually accompanied with some commentary on whether the authors heeded their suggestions or not).  Like it or not, but this does influence my perception of the manuscript.

So, while we might not know who the reviewers are, we know damned well what they do, and the price for which they do it (freely).  I think that’s worth 8 words.

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