A blog by Rob J Hyndman 

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Posts Tagged ‘refereeing’:

Publishing an R package in the Journal of Statistical Software

Published on 24 April 2014

I’ve been an edi­tor of JSS for the last few years, and as a result I tend to get email from peo­ple ask­ing me about pub­lish­ing papers describ­ing R pack­ages in JSS. So for all those won­der­ing, here are some gen­eral comments.

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How to get your paper rejected quickly

Published on 25 November 2013

I sent this rejec­tion let­ter this morn­ing about a paper sub­mit­ted to the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing. Dear XXXXX. I am writ­ing to you regard­ing man­u­script ????? enti­tled “xxxxxxxxxxxx” which you sub­mit­ted to the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing. It so hap­pens that I am aware that this paper was pre­vi­ously reviewed for the YYYYYYY jour­nal. It seems that you have not both­ered to make any of the changes rec­om­mended by the review­ers of your sub­mis­sion to YYYYYYY. Just sub­mit­ting the same paper to another jour­nal is extremely poor prac­tice, and I am dis­ap­pointed that you have taken this path. Review­ers spend a great deal of time pro­vid­ing com­ments, and it is dis­re­spect­ful to ignore them. I don’t expect you to do every­thing they say, but I would expect some of their com­ments to be help­ful. I am unwill­ing to con­sider the paper fur­ther for the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing. Read the pre­vi­ous reviews to know why. And before you sub­mit the paper to a new jour­nal, take the time to con­sider the reviews you have already been given. Sin­cerely, Rob Hyn­d­man (Editor-​​​​in-​​​​Chief, Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing) I have writ­ten on this issue before. The peer-​​​​review sys­tem requires peo­ple to donate con­sid­er­able amounts of time to writ­ing reviews. In


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Establishing priority

Published on 6 May 2013

The nature of research is that other peo­ple are prob­a­bly work­ing on sim­i­lar ideas to you, and it is pos­si­ble that some­one will beat you to pub­lish­ing them.

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Read the literature

Published on 3 August 2012

I’ve just fin­ished another reviewer report for a jour­nal, and yet again I’ve had to make com­ments about read­ing the lit­er­a­ture. It’s not dif­fi­cult. Before you write a paper, read what other peo­ple have done. A sim­ple search on Google scholar will usu­ally do the trick. And before you sub­mit a paper, check again that you haven’t missed any­thing impor­tant. The paper I reviewed today did not cite a sin­gle ref­er­ence from either of the two most active research groups in the area in the last ten years. Any search on the topic would have turned up about a dozen papers from these two groups alone. I don’t mind if papers miss a ref­er­ence or two, espe­cially if they have been pub­lished in an obscure out­let. But I will rec­om­mend a straight reject if a paper hasn’t cited any of the most impor­tant papers from the last five years. Part of a researcher’s task is to engage with what has already been done, and show how any new ideas dif­fer from or extend on pre­vi­ous work.

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Refereeing a journal article

Published on 20 January 2012

I’ve writ­ten briefly on this before. For an excel­lent and more detailed dis­cus­sion of what is involved, there is a series of excel­lent posts on Pat Thomson’s blog: Ref­er­ee­ing a jour­nal arti­cle part 1: read­ing Ref­er­ee­ing a jour­nal arti­cle part 2: mak­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion Ref­er­ee­ing a jour­nal arti­cle part 3: writ­ing the feed­back If every reviewer fol­lowed her advice, my life as an edi­tor would be much eas­ier, and the qual­ity of research would be improved.

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Becoming a referee

Published on 10 January 2011

I reg­u­larly get emails from peo­ple want­ing to be ref­er­ees for the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing, usu­ally with an accom­pa­ny­ing CV. This is not how the process works. Ref­er­ees are almost always selected because they have pre­vi­ously writ­ten papers on a sim­i­lar topic to the man­u­script under review. If you want to be a ref­eree, then write good papers and get them pub­lished in schol­arly jour­nals. Very quickly you will be invited to ref­eree papers in the same jour­nals. But until you have demon­strated your own research skills, no edi­tor is going to trust you to assess the research of some­one else.

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How to avoid annoying a referee

Published on 22 October 2010

It’s not a good idea to annoy the ref­er­ees of your paper. They make rec­om­men­da­tions to the edi­tor about your work and it is best to keep them happy. There is an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion on stats​.stack​ex​change​.com on this sub­ject. This inspired my own list below. Explain what you’ve done clearly, avoid­ing unnec­es­sary jar­gon. Don’t claim your paper con­tributes more than it actu­ally does. (I ref­er­eed a paper this week where the author claimed to have invented prin­ci­pal com­po­nent analy­sis!) Ensure all fig­ures have clear cap­tions and labels. Include cita­tions to the referee’s own work. Obvi­ously you don’t know who is going to ref­eree your paper, but you should aim to cite the main work in the area. It places your work in con­text, and keeps the ref­er­ees happy if they are the authors. Make sure the cited papers say what you think they say. Sight what you cite! Include proper cita­tions for all soft­ware pack­ages. If you are unsure how to cite an R pack­age, try the com­mand citation(“packagename”). Never pla­gia­rise from other papers — not even sen­tence frag­ments. Use your own words. I’ve ref­er­eed a the­sis which had slabs taken from my own lec­ture notes includ­ing the typos. Don’t pla­gia­rise from your own papers. Either ref­er­ence


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Always listen to reviewers

Published on 13 October 2010

This week I was asked to review a paper that I had seen before. It had been sub­mit­ted to a jour­nal a few months ago and I had writ­ten a detailed report describ­ing some prob­lems with the paper, and not­ing a large num­ber of typos that needed fix­ing. That jour­nal had rejected the paper, the authors had sub­mit­ted it to a sec­ond jour­nal, and the paper ended up on my desk again for review. I was inter­ested to see what the authors had done about the prob­lems I had described. Alas, noth­ing had changed. Not even the typos. It was iden­ti­cal to the pre­vi­ous ver­sion with every error still there. So I sent the same report off to the sec­ond jour­nal advis­ing the edi­tor of the sit­u­a­tion. I’m not sure what the authors imag­ined would hap­pen. It is not uncom­mon for a paper to be sent to the same reviewer after it has been rejected by one jour­nal, espe­cially when the field of poten­tial review­ers for some top­ics is quite small. This paper was on an exten­sion to the auto­matic time series mod­el­ling pro­ce­dures pro­vided in the fore­cast pack­age for R. Since I am the author of the fore­cast pack­age for R, the prob­a­bil­ity of me being asked to review the paper is approx­i­mately


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Joining an editorial board

Published on 7 October 2010

Being on the edi­to­r­ial board of a jour­nal is a lot of work. I’m cur­rently Editor-​​​​in-​​​​Chief of the Inter­na­tional Jour­nal of Fore­cast­ing and pre­vi­ously I’ve been The­ory & Meth­ods Edi­tor of the Aus­tralian & New Zealand Jour­nal of Sta­tis­tics. Although it is time-​​​​consuming and often goes un-​​​​noticed, there are some impor­tant rewards that make it worth­while in my opin­ion. You are forced to read care­fully a lot of papers in your area of inter­est. Every­one intends read­ing the papers pub­lished in their area, but this activ­ity often gets neglected for more urgent activ­i­ties. When you are an edi­tor or asso­ciate edi­tor, you have to read the papers, and you have to read them thor­oughly. That way you are forced to keep up-​​​​to-​​​​date with new ideas. You become bet­ter known in your field. This tends to lead to invi­ta­tions to speak at con­fer­ences, write invited papers, etc. You get to shape the dis­ci­pline to some extent, at least once you are a man­ag­ing edi­tor. For exam­ple, you can arrange a spe­cial issue or a review paper on a topic that you think needs address­ing. It brings with it some pres­tige. You get to see a lot of the lat­est research before every­one else, although these days, that is becom­ing less of


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Should you make your working papers public?

Published on 9 June 2010

There seems to be two points of view on this with dif­fer­ent prac­tices in dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines. Some researchers do not make their work pub­lic until after it has been accepted for pub­li­ca­tion in a jour­nal. Until that time, drafts of papers are only cir­cu­lated to close con­fi­dants and usu­ally marked “Do not dis­trib­ute”. Work­ing papers are pub­lished on web sites and in web repos­i­to­ries (such as arXiv or RePEc) as soon as they are fin­ished, at about the same time they are sub­mit­ted to a jour­nal. Because I work with peo­ple in lots of dif­fer­ent fields, I come across both of these prac­tices. In the first sit­u­a­tion, I don’t post the work­ing paper on my web­site until all coau­thors agree, which is not until the paper is accepted at a jour­nal. In the sec­ond sit­u­a­tion, I post the work­ing paper on my web­site (and usu­ally also on RePEc) as soon as pos­si­ble. I don’t like the secrecy model at all, but it is hard to con­vince coau­thors who have been trained under that process to change. Dif­fer­ent jus­ti­fi­ca­tions are given for keep­ing things secret, depend­ing on who I ask. Here are some of them (in bold) with my thoughts on why the stated rea­sons make lit­tle sense. It pre­vents rival


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