MalariaWorld as of today has 8102 registered members. We continuously check the validity of your email address to make sure that we remain connected with you, so you and 8101 other subscribers receive the MalariaWorld newsletter every single week of the year. This November we celebrated our fourth year of providing services to you. This was also a time to once more review our progress, including the progress we are making with the MalariaWorld Journal. The journal is now in its 4th volume and it is maturing, but we identified some real difficulties, one of which I want to bring to your attention here: manuscript reviewing...
As a scientist, whenever you have written up your work in the form of a manuscript ready to be submitted, you feel satisfied and maybe a bit excited. 'Will the journal to which I submit my work view it favourably and publish it?' I have witnessed this same feeling many times before.
Being on 'the other side', the side of being an Editor of a journal, in this case the MalariaWorld Journal, poses completely different challenges. When it gets to reviewing the overall merit of the manuscript before sending it out for review, this is never much of an issue. We quickly get a feel for the quality of the manuscript in front of us. But then the problem starts...
The huge increase in journals has meant that the number of times scientists receive requests to review manuscripts has also increased dramatically. I witness this also - almost every week I receive requests. Some I accept, which means an extra workload, but most I decline simply because I have to many other things to do.
But now as an Editor, when I send out requests to potential reviewers, I have really started to appreciate the severity of this problem. And, I may mention, when talking to other Editors, it shows that they battle with the same problem: It is becoming increasingly difficult to find (good) reviewers. Those that are well known in the field of malaria and have a high reputation, are simply swamped with requests, and many do not even decline requests anymore, they simply ignore the email with the request.
This is a serious development, one that I am struggling with, alongside other Editors of Journals. Good quality manuscripts, with good and novel data and information that may help to save lives, should get published without delay. Regretfully, the unnecessary delays caused by our own peers, are hindering the very progress we all desire.
So what to do about this? Suggestions are very welcome!