Here at Cureus we take author and reviewer satisfaction very seriously. We strive to respond to all questions, comments and complaints as soon we can, often within just a few hours. If you’re familiar with the Cureus mission, you know that constructing a publication process devoid of politics (and supporting the increased transparency that comes with it) are our primary goals.
With that in mind, we’d like to share a recent exchange between an anonymous Cureus peer-reviewer unhappy with the amount of time he received to review an article.
Reviewer: Less than a week for an academic neurosurgeon to provide a review? Hmmmm.
Cureus: I was forwarded your recent email lament about the review period ending on a paper to which you were recently invited to comment. I wanted to reach out to you by email to firstly, thank you for responding, and secondly to explain a little bit more how the Cureus review process is designed to work, which as you perhaps noted is quite different than traditional journals.
As an academic neurosurgeon myself, I am all too aware that sometimes it can be impossible to find the time to review a manuscript just because one is just too darn busy. That is a given!! What happens in traditional journals routinely is that such busy academics plan to review a paper but for a range of reasons never get around to it. Therefore, the editor in chief and staff of most journals spend most of their time (and journal money) chasing down reviewers and as a result the process of review can last for months in many cases. We at Cureus have tried to do something quite different in our review process. We invite a number of reviewers to review but we fully expect most to be too busy and decline. If anyone is busy, it is quite ok to decline, our Cureus editorial team totally understands. However, the expectation is that a few of the invited reviewers will have both the time and the interest to perform a timely review……in fact, we are eventually hoping to achieve a review cycle of just a few days.
While this review cycle is better than nearly all other medical journals, it should be noted that NEJM does offer a turn around time in a week for some selected topics so this objective is not totally beyond current trends at the most selective journals. By resetting expectations for reviews, Cureus hopes to avoid the many month review cycles that are commonplace with JNS or Neurosurgery for example. The beauty of a faster review cycle is that the reviewed article remains fresh in everyone’s mind so that a lot of time is not wasted reacquainting oneself (both author and reviewers) with the article and any reviewer comments that emanate with each review cycle. Moreover, Cureus’ in-browser reviewing tool makes it easier than ever for a reviewer to comment on a paper and communicate their critique directly to the author. In the process hopefully everyone wins. The ultimate objective is to accelerate the process of publishing/documenting medical science, which I believe to be a net positive.
Clearly your first interaction with Cureus was less than ideal. I am hoping that after my explanation here you might give Cureus another try? In particular I would love you to perhaps even consider publishing your own article in our totally FREE open access journal, an experience first hand how a faster/easier review process can even make publishing peer reviewed papers FUN!! I note that you are a DBS guy and by virtue of such you clearly must be comfortable with new ideas and technology. As Cureus seeks to innovate in the medical journal space, we especially welcome early adopters like yourself.
I am happy to answer any further questions should you have any or address any other concerns your might have.
Reviewer: Many thanks for your email and clarification. I do agree that the review process is often too lengthy, especially with the journals you mention. Sadly, even with the best will in the world, the pressures of clinical work and other academic deadlines do not make it feasible for me to provide a thorough review on a paper within a week of receiving the request.
That said, now that I understand the philosophy behind the Cureus review process and I do like the idea. It is a clean and workable solution, but I fear it may work against the clinical scientist, especially in the surgical field where time is more limited.
I do find publishing fun … especially the debate with constructive reviewers. I will think of Cureus if I have any suitable material in the coming months.
A fair argument? What do you think?