I’m a graduate student with, so far, one published article in a peer-reviewed journal. Since the article came out, I’ve been receiving increasing amounts of “academic e-mail spam” from people wanting me to attend their conferences, publish in their (usually pay-to-publish) journals or order research supplies from them. (The latter kind tend to be the easiest to filter out — even though my field is biomathematics, it doesn’t mean I have any use for frozen mouse embryos whatsoever.)

Some time ago, an e-mail turned up asking me to review a manuscript, conveniently attached to the message, for a pay-to-publish open access journal in a somewhat related field. Googling for the name of the publisher, I found them described as e.g. “a borderline vanity press”.

At the time, I wasn’t really sure how to react. On one hand, I could think of several reasons to just go ahead and review the manuscript:

  • The main complaint about the publisher seems to be that their peer review is insufficient — a claim supported by the fact that they seem to be picking random grad students as reviewers. Still, given that they’re at least making some effort at peer review, surely I should encourage them in that? After all, if nobody agreed to review manuscripts for them, how could they ever improve their review process?

  • Declining to review the manuscript might deprive the authors — who, if the journal is indeed a “scam”, are presumably the victims here — of useful feedback. Surely they at least deserve that much return for their time, efforts and money?

  • Also, if the manuscript did get published in a scientific journal, no matter how dubious or marginal, it would enter the body of scientific knowledge, and might be used as a reference by others. Given that, surely it is my duty as a scientist to try, given the opportunity, to do what I can to ensure that it is at least correct?

Still, despite these arguments, I initially found the idea of willingly responding to spam to be deeply unsettling at a fundamental, almost visceral level. Also, I felt concerned that, by doing volunteer work for a possibly unethical publisher, I’d be supporting their business model and perhaps lending them an undeserved appearance of legitimacy.
In particular, given that the subject of the manuscript wasn’t that close to my own field, I worried that it might have errors that I would not be capable of spotting, and that, even if I made this clear in my review, the publisher might still use the review to support the publication of a possibly flawed article.

(Edit: Just to be clear, I wasn’t worried that they’d reveal the names of reviewers, just that, even if I was the only one who sent back a review, they might still use it to claim that “yes, the paper was peer reviewed.”)

In the end, the decision was actually rather easy: after a cursory glance at the manuscript, it became clear that there was no way I could support its publication as written, especially given that large fragments of it were clearly plagiarized, and I wrote back to the journal stating as much.

However, if I ever receive a similar request again (and I assume I probably will, sooner or later), what do you think I should do with it?

I was reading few journals (in Elsevier) in my field (Biology) and I noticed the time of acceptance period from the revised version is received “Received 8 November 2016; Received in revised form 17 April 2017; Accepted 18 April 2017”. Does this mean that the revised manuscript received today is immediately the other day? Or is there any other interpretation for this?
Thanks!

I was reading few journals (in Elsevier) in my field (Biology) and I noticed the time of acceptance period from the revised version is received “Received 8 November 2016; Received in revised form 17 April 2017; Accepted 18 April 2017”. Does this mean that the revised manuscript received today is immediately the other day? Or is there any other interpretation for this?
Thanks!

I recently published a paper with IEEE. During the publishing stage, I had to provide them the figures named [MyName]FigureX_a, [MyName]FigureX_b etc…

By accident, I got two figures wrong and they were named FigureX_b and FigureX_a instead of FigureX_a and FigureX_b. During publishing, I spotted this error and told them to fix the problem. They did fix it at the time and I approved the changes.

However, when I received the final complete PDF, the error was present once again. In the e-mail, it stated that “Please note this is not the final version of the article and corrections will not be reflected in this PDF”. I thought that the change would be reflected in the final version so did not bother to e-mail.

I have just seen the final version on the web-site and the error is still present. This error should be pretty evident to anybody reading the paper. The figure is part of many other subfigures so the inconsistency is apparent. The overall message of the figure is not lost and the results are still the same apart from the order being wrong.

I am unsure what to do. On one hand, I want to contact IEEE and complain. I unfortunately do not have the proofs of the pdfs that were provided for review but I have my correspondence saved. On the other hand, I think the error is minor enough that any reader should understand what happened.

The file that will be on PubMed is correct though. I could in theory submit it to ArXiv with the correct ordering, copyright notices and other information required by IEEE(DOI,PMID etc.).

Does this require any drastic actions?

Hopefully this question isn’t too broad. Following up on https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/99123/what-software-do-publishers-use and Elsevier production team messed up my paper. What should I do?, what is the overall process that a typical academic journal uses for typesetting a LaTeX document? I would appreciate a brief step-by-step overview of the process.

Some random questions that I’ve often wondered about (no need to answer them all): does each journal just have a LaTeX template with a really elaborate preamble, into which they mostly copy and paste the TeX submission and then make minor tweaks from there by hand? Can it possibly really be true that Elsevier usually retypes the entire article by hand, as an answer to the linked question above claims? That seems completely ridiculous. Do the typesetters have any math training at all, or when they typeset equations, are they just manipulating symbols in what is to them effectively a foreign language? Is there at least someone around who understands the paper to whom they can ask questions if they’re not sure how an equation should be formatted? Is it true that they’re almost always in India?

I would especially hope that during the proof revision stage, there’s someone around who understands the paper content, because understanding an error in an equation can be nontrivial. If one were to write a comment on an unrevised proof like, “These parentheses are misplaced; they should group the Jacobian determinant together with the integration measure”, would anyone on the other end be able to understand that comment?

Hopefully this question isn’t too broad. Following up on https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/99123/what-software-do-publishers-use and Elsevier production team messed up my paper. What should I do?, what is the overall process that a typical academic journal uses for typesetting a LaTeX document? I would appreciate a brief step-by-step overview of the process.

Some random questions that I’ve often wondered about (no need to answer them all): does each journal just have a LaTeX template with a really elaborate preamble, into which they mostly copy and paste the TeX submission and then make minor tweaks from there by hand? Can it possibly really be true that Elsevier usually retypes the entire article by hand, as an answer to the linked question above claims? That seems completely ridiculous. Do the typesetters have any math training at all, or when they typeset equations, are they just manipulating symbols in what is to them effectively a foreign language? Is there at least someone around who understands the paper to whom they can ask questions if they’re not sure how an equation should be formatted? Is it true that they’re almost always in India?

I would especially hope that during the proof revision stage, there’s someone around who understands the paper content, because understanding an error in an equation can be nontrivial. If one were to write a comment on an unrevised proof like, “These parentheses are misplaced; they should group the Jacobian determinant together with the integration measure”, would anyone on the other end be able to understand that comment?

How much should someone wait after submission of a revised manuscript, the time took till date is 120 days from the initial submission date and 30 days from the date of submission of the revised manuscript? Although I agree, that mine is a 66-page long manuscript, submitted in a renowned journal and my re-submitted version has 6 more pages compared to the initially submitted manuscript. This is my first manuscript, please guide me through for how long it is required to wait?

To mention, I had obtained the initial comments in 55 days of the submission.

Recently, I got an acceptance of a journal paper, where I am allowed to self-archive its preprint version in my own repository/website.

My question is whether I am allowed to upload it to RG before publication, assuming that my RG page is a personal web page. If ‘yes’, what should I mention in the publication date entry, knowing that it is compulsory?