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On Hochberg et al.'s, the tragedy of the reviewers commons

Louis de Mesnard ()

LEG - Document de travail - Economie from LEG, Laboratoire d'Economie et de Gestion, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne

Abstract: We discuss each of the recommendations made by Hochberg et al. (2009) to prevent the “tragedy of the reviewer commons”. Having scientific journals share a common database of reviewers would be to recreate a bureaucratic organization, where extra-scientific considerations prevailed. Pre-reviewing of papers by colleagues is a widespread practice but raises problems of coordination. Revising manuscripts in line with all reviewers’ recommendations presupposes that recommendations converge, which is acrobatic. Signing an undertaking that authors have taken into accounts all reviewers’ comments is both authoritarian and sterilizing. Sending previous comments with subsequent submissions to other journals amounts to creating a cartel and a single all-encompassing journal, which again is sterilizing. Using young scientists as reviewers is highly risky: they might prove very severe; and if they have not yet published themselves, the recommendation violates the principle of peer review. Asking reviewers to be more severe would only create a crisis in the publishing houses and actually increase reviewers’ workloads. The criticisms of the behavior of authors looking to publish in the best journals are unfair: it is natural for scholars to try to publish in the best journals and not to resign themselves to being second rate. Punishing lazy reviewers would only lower the quality of reports: instead, we favor the idea of paying reviewers “in kind” with, say, complimentary books or papers.

Keywords: Reviewer; Referee; Editor; Publisher; Publishing; Tragedy of the Commons; Hochberg (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 20 pages
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Handle: RePEc:lat:legeco:e2009-16