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Firing incompetent and unprofessional PRL editors?

  1. Feb 1, 2013 #1
    I guess like many others here, I have several papers rejected from various journals, and especially from PRL. Rejections are always unpleasant, and you get used to them. But sometimes it seems especially unfair and the editor seems completely incompetent and unprofessional. Unlike with incompetent referees, there is really no way to fight back – the editor has a status of a Pharaoh. The situation is getting very asymmetric now that editors started rejecting a large number of papers without review. They are not part of the community, and they are never on the other side of the rejection like referees.

    I wonder if among all rejections you felt that one specific editor was particularly incompetent and unprofessional. And if many people name the same unprofessional editor, we can collectively get rid of that editor. I’m curious to hear what others think.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 1, 2013 #2
    Read Martin Eden by Jack London.
  4. Feb 1, 2013 #3


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    How? What was unfair? Specifics?

    There's only a finite number of reviewers available. There's a lot of submissions. Maybe they should offer the rejected papers a chance to get reviewer comments for a fee. The fee wouldn't be small. I'd charge $500 at least for a detailed paper review and the time it takes. And no guarantee you'll still not be rejected for publication. An editor serves as a screen.

    Why not? Lot of editors are active researchers. Don't know about PRL in specific.

    I think your complaint is unspecific. What exactly was unprofessional? Just rejecting a paper cannot be.
  5. Feb 1, 2013 #4


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    I don't think I've come across an unprofessional editor. But, when your paper gets rejected by the editor (before being sent out for review), it means that the paper does not meet the conditions for publication in the journal. This is not a factual assessment, but usually format or, for PRL, a lack of importance beyond your specific subfield. You are given the chance to make changes to your manuscript and resubmit.

    This forum is not the place for a witchhunt, so please don't be naming editors you think should be fired for not accepting your paper.
  6. Feb 1, 2013 #5
    I think the editors of a reputed journal like PRL know their jobs and I trust them.
  7. Feb 1, 2013 #6
    Consistently being unfair to authors for political reasons

    Of course, many rejections are unpleasant, but reasonable.
  8. Feb 1, 2013 #7
    Ideally that would be the case, but the editors like all of us are human. Humans make mistakes, sometimes have conflict of interest etc. Other players in the game have a checking mechanism - editors don't. This is all I'm saying.

    How is this a witchhunt? An editor is a job done by humans. There should be a feedback mechanism checking the quality of the performance. You can't complain personally, because of retaliations. The only possible action is to get a collective complaint if the editor is really unfair to many. I just wanted to see if that was the case indeed.
  9. Feb 1, 2013 #8
    And presidents of reputed countries know their jobs, so they should be trusted and keep ruling forever?
  10. Feb 1, 2013 #9
    I'm in. You go first.
  11. Feb 1, 2013 #10


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    I don't know if you've met any of the editors of PRL, or the Physical Review journals for that matter. I suggest you go talk to them. They are often around at the APS March/April meetings.

    These people are NOT the imbeciles that you think. They take feedback seriously, and they definitely keep track of the areas that they specialize in. I've attended many seminars at Brookhaven where PR editors also present (their offices are within easy driving distance to the lab).

    Secondly, this is only ONE side of the story. If you had "several papers" rejected, then how about examining if it is also possible that the caliber of the work might be the issue! PRL has recently tightened the quality of papers that it will accept. It won't accept something just because it is new. It must also have a larger impact.

    BTW, the difficulty of getting through the editors at PRL is NOTHING when compared to Nature or Science.

  12. Feb 1, 2013 #11
    Well, I could just email them if that was the issue. My point is that there is no external checking mechanism. Just like you wouldn't expect a police department to be objective to itself. I'd want an external body for that.

    I never implied they were. The smartest people make mistakes, they can be sloppy, biased etc.

    I have more PRL papers published than rejected. But my case is not important, I'm talking about a general principle - there is no control on what editors do.

    Somehow I'm used to thinking of Nature and Science as flashy magazines for the sake of flashiness, and of PRL as a real scientific journal. But you're right, the same applies to Nature and Science.
  13. Feb 1, 2013 #12
    P.S.: Again, I want to emphasize that I mean ONE specific editor that seems unfair for political reasons. The rest seem reasonably fair to me.
  14. Feb 1, 2013 #13
    Go and talk to him.
  15. Feb 1, 2013 #14


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    Complain to the Editor in Chief or Editorial Director then.
  16. Feb 1, 2013 #15


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    What you are used to thinking is wrong then.
  17. Feb 1, 2013 #16


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    Why do you think that your papers are being rejected for political reasons?
  18. Feb 1, 2013 #17
    Because, a number of authors I talked to have the same feeling. I was hoping to get a bigger statistical sample here.
  19. Feb 1, 2013 #18


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    Perhaps the fact that you don't toot your own horn as to your credibility leaves members wondering if you are in fact credible. But, had you claimed to be credible, people would then think you weren't. It's a tough situation. You're an unknown, so it's hard to judge.

    Perhaps we should assume the OP is a well known and published individual and go from there.
  20. Feb 1, 2013 #19


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    It would be helpful to know the OP's field of research, at least - then we can better judge how politically incendiary it is.
  21. Feb 1, 2013 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    Sure there is. The Associate Editors report to Editors. The Editors report to an APS Editor in Chief and there is oversight by an external Editorial Board. The next level of oversight is the American Physical Society's Publications Oversight Committee, and above that is the APS Presidency Line, who are elected by the APS membership.
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