Friday, 23 October 2009

To withdraw or not to withdraw?

A colleague from another University asked me a question: he submitted a paper to an international journal and had received no response after 10 months. He tried to contact the editor and his secretary said that the review process has started but they have not received all the responses from reviewers. Did I think it is OK for him to write a formal letter to withdraw the paper now? Or should he wait until the decision is made, no matter how long it takes? I was quick to advise him as follows.

In my experience, the gathering of referee reports is a burdensome task for an editor and the editorial office. One of the reasons that it can take so many months to get reports is that referees often do not answer promptly, or they say they will carry out the task, then change their minds, or they are just slow because of all the other demands on their time. Often, over a period of many months, we might find that we have tried 20 different referees in order to end up with the requisite four reports.

After all this work it is very annoying to then discover that the author wants to withdraw the paper! However, if the paper is rejected, then there is no real problem. Alternatively, if the decision is Major, or Reject & Resubmit, then that is an opportunity for the author to say to the editor that the requirements are just too harsh, and that he or she would prefer to withdraw it. But if an editor calls for minor revisions, or simply accepts the paper, the author really should not withdraw it. It would be bad protocol, because the editorial office and the referees wouyld have been working through this process for no reason. Perhaps the question to ask is, why would an author want to withdraw a paper mid-way through a long refereeing process? I have come across situations where an author has realized, too late, that there are such significant flaws in the paper that it really should go no further. This would need some careful dialogue wit the editor, explaining why the paper cannot continue in the process.

I summed up my advice thus. Therefore, you need pretty strong reasons for withdrawal. Either the editor's requirements are too harsh, or you have discovered some aspect of the paper that renders it unpublishable. I don't think that you should withdraw for any other reason, unless you want to upset the editor!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Article 25

The declaration of human rights includes, at Article 25.1 the following text:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood beyond his control.

This has inspired Victoria Harris to set up a voluntary group to carry out development work and post-disaster redevelopment and reconstruction. This group is called Article 25. They have carried out a number of projects in various countries, and among other things seek to set up student chapters in universities around the world. What a great idea! They run a database of volunteers and they are able to join up with local agencies and help to deliver projects that would otherwise be impossible. In other words, they actually design, manage and build construction projects. Unlike most organizations, they don't just talk about it, but actually get engaged an do stuff. Can you help them? It seems like a good opportunity for doing some meaningful voluntary work.

Search This Blog

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Total Pageviews