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Peer Review Q&A with JNeurosci and eNeuro Editors-in-Chief

Please note: This Q&A is open to the public. Login is required to post a reply. If you are a current or previous SfN member, use the email address and password you used to join SfN. non-SfN members should create a new account.

Do you have a question about the peer review process? Want to know about becoming a reviewer? Do you wonder what an editor does for a scientific journal? Neuronline is hosting a Q&A with the Editors-in-Chief Marina Piccioto (JNeurosci) and Christophe Bernard (eNeuro) for Peer Review Week. Post your questions in the replies below!

Forum will open to the public for questions on September 4th. The EiCs will answer questions beginning September 11th.

Editors-in-Chief

Marina Picciotto, Journal of Neuroscience
Marina Picciotto is the Charles B.G. Murphy Professor and Deputy Chair in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University, as well as Professor of Pharmacology and Neurobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. She received her PhD in Molecular Neurobiology from The Rockefeller University and pursued her postdoctoral fellowship at the Institut Pasteur. Picciotto has made significant advances to our understanding of the role of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in addiction, depression, feeding, and learning/memory.

Christophe Bernard, eNeuro
Christophe Bernard is the director of research at INSERM U1106 in the Institute of Systems Neuroscience. Bernard received his PhD from the University of Paris VI and conducted postdoctoral research at Southampton University. Bernard is interested in mechanisms underlying the construction of an epileptic brain, including seizure genesis and propagation with a focus on temporal lobe epilepsy. His lab is designing and using new tools to help with epileptic research.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Having an article refused for acceptance can be difficult especially if you are not in agreement with reviewers’ comments.
Can an investigator defend their science and request additional reviews?

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Welcome to the Peer Review Week Q&A and thank you for your questions! Marina and Christophe will be answering questions throughout the week. Keep posting your questions and check back during the week for new conversations!

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marina_picciotto

At JN, like at eN, Reviewing Editors are active scientists who invite reviewers and make the first recommendation on the manuscript. Senior Editors cover various subsections of neuroscience and receive the recommendations from Reviewing Editors in their area. The Senior Editor makes the final decision on a manuscript, and makes sure that there is a common set of expectations across the manuscripts in a particular area. Associate Editors are frequent, high quality, rapid reviewers who are willing to review manuscripts on short notice and are often called in to make decisions when there is a discrepancy between reviewers.

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Submitted question:

A common complaint among scientists are unreasonable demands by reviewers which may be a very subjective matter (what’s a simple experiment to me may be a gargantuan effort for you and vice versa). How can a reviewer evaluate whether their suggestions are going to be deemed objectively demanding or just unreasonably demanding and how important is that in the reviewing process?

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christophe_bernard

All you need to do is send a CV, a motivation letter, and identify the reviewing editors with whom you could work. I’ll forward the information to the relevant reviewing editors who may call upon you. I recommend watching the webinars on “how to review a paper”, freely available to all SfN members. Tricks of the Trade: How to Peer Review a Manuscript

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marina_picciotto

There is no rubric for the review itself, but when it is time to submit the review. there are fields in the review form that must be filled in. For more information, you can see the new video on the JNeurosci review process that shows all the fields in the review form.

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marina_picciotto

It is definitely difficult to get a negative decision on work that you have done carefully and invested so much in. Remember that each journal has a different set of metrics, so if you get a negative decision, it doesn’t mean that it is not appropriate for another journal. However, at JNeurosci, the only basis for appeal is scientific error on the part of a reviewer. If the reviews do not contain scientific error, the best way to move forward is to take into account the points raised by the reviewers and revise your manuscript for submission to another journal.

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christophe_bernard

At eNeuro, the final decision is based on a consensus reached between the reviewers and the reviewing editor, and authors receive only one document (one voice), a synthesis. Although it is still possible that the 3 of them badly evaluated the manuscript, it is unlikely. We have received only a handful of appeals thanks to this consensus review process. You can make an appeal IF you consider that a critical mistake has been made or if you consider that there is a bias in the synthesis.

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marina_picciotto

JNeurosci and eNeuro have a somewhat different review process. eN has double blind review and it works very well during the review process. JN does not currently keep the identify of the authors anonymous.

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marina_picciotto

Most of the reviewers for JN are relatively well established scientists, but we are working on a reviewer training program with our Associate Editors to get more junior scientists experience with the review process and ultimately, incorporating younger PIs and senior postdocs as reviewers after the program.

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christophe_bernard

As for JN, there are fields to fill in. The questions are straightforward. Once both reviews are uploaded, the consultation process starts. You can talk about the reviews with the other reviewer and the reviewing editor. The reviewing editor then writes a synthesis once a consensus has been reached regarding the final decision, and what the authors need to do.

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marina_picciotto

The best way for graduate students to get involved in peer review is to participate in the review process under the mentorship of their advisor(s). As mentioned in another answer, JN is working on a reviewer training program through our Associate Editors that will help get graduate students experience with the review process. There are also helpful videos on the peer review process on the eNeuro website.

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marina_picciotto

There are no restrictions on the nationality of the editors at JNeurosci. Our editorial board has broad, international membership and we aim to represent our authors and the SfN membership, which are both international.

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Submitted question:

What are the pros and cons about double blind peer-review and in addition the need (or not) to give some sort of recognition to the reviewers? For example as Frontiers journals is doing by mentioning the reviewers names once the paper is published. Finally what is your opinion on ‘Publons’ initiative (https://publons.com)? Thank you!

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marina_picciotto

At eNeuro, the policy is explicitly designed to accept or reject papers based on the science presented and not to ask for many more experiments. At JNeurosci, we have put into place policies, such as a prohibition against online only supplemental figures, designed to limit reviewer requests for experiments that are not essential, but we do not have the same explicit policy against requests for more data as eNeuro. Our editors work hard to make judgement on whether requested data are essential to the paper, however.

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marina_picciotto

The best way to be a constructive reviewer is to imagine that you are critiquing your own work. Look for the important new idea, and make sure that it is supported by the data. Find a way to convey what the excitement in the study might be, and then clearly state what would be needed to make the case for that exciting new scientific idea convincingly.

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christophe_bernard

At eNeuro, we ask reviewers whether novel experiments require more than 2 months work. Reviewing editors are instructed to verify that all requested experiments are necessary. This is verified during the discussion process when making the synthesis.

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christophe_bernard

I don’t see cons regarding the double blind process. In fact, Nature took on eNeuro, and now proposes it as an option. The names of the reviewers are published, except if reviewers specifically say no about it. We acknowledge reviewers work every year (listing the names of all reviewers), we highlight specifically good reviewers, and authors can upgrade automatically their ORCID account, which now includes the number of papers you reviewed and for which journal.

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Submitted question:

I am hoping to gain perspective on what is useful in a peer review. I have received and written reviews and sometimes find reviewer comments not constructive and hope to improve my ability to give constructive reviews.

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marina_picciotto

At JNeurosci, we are strongly committed to blinded peer review. We believe that power differentials between authors and reviewers provide incentives that could bias the review process, even when the identity of reviewers is only revealed after acceptance of a manuscript. JN acknowledges every reviewer in print every year, but we believe that the process is best served by anonymity of reviewers. eNeuro uses double blind review and many authors appreciate the opportunity to have the science judged without definitive identification of the authors. It requires editorial work to assure that there are not references in the manuscript that would reveal the authors or their institutions, so because of the large number of submissions at JNeurosci, it is an initiative that would be time intensive to implement.

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christophe_bernard

Again, check the webinars we made on this. The rule of thumb is easy. All you need to remember is that you are here to help the authors. Even if they did things wrong, tell them in a factual manner, and tell them what to do. You can be critical AND constructive. Build your review in the same way you would like to receive one for your paper. Something helpful.

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bethann_mclaughlin

Have you ever considered doing a scratch-and-sniff issue of the Journal?

Also, is it too early to get in line at the SfN meeting for Meet-the-Editors? I want to ensure I get a good spot. I have a lot of questions.

47 PM

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marina_picciotto

If a paper is outside the scope of JNeurosci (no neural mechanisms included), it is likely to be sent back without review. Inadequately powered experiments are often grounds for rejection. Reviewers are asked to evaluate the statistical analyses and design. If they feel unable to ervaluate the statistics, they can check a box noting this. In that case, an additional reviewer might be invited to evaluate the statistical analysies.

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marina_picciotto

We really enjoy the Meet-the-Editors sessions at SfN. Please come by and meet our Reviewing and Senior Editors. As for a Scratch-and-Sniff cover, that doesn’t translate well for those who read JNeurosci online. One day we hope to have kittens on the cover though.

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christophe_bernard

This is a very tough question. I wonder whether this is applicable to all Neuroscience fields. If you read Neuroscience papers, most tell a story. Like: we found this, which was unexpected, so we did this experiment which led to this result. Based on this, we thought about doing that etc. I don’t see how you can present the research plan and methodology in a results-free manner. You somehow need to tell the reviewer which results you are going to obtain to present the next experiment. This invalidates the concept. This works if you have a “simple” question, i.e. one for which you can plan everything in advance. For example, a preclinical study to test a drug. Then, it becomes like registered reports. eNeuro is going to implement registered reports. Having said that, the results-free approach is great if it is applicable; it removes some bias.

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  • 4 months later...
marina_picciotto

You must be an SfN member to get access to the reviewer training program. If you are a member, you can go to the Neuronline forum link in the editorial and follow the instructions there.

Yours,

Marina Picciotto

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lijingcheng1988

Dear Dr. Marina Picciotto, thank you so much.
One more very simple question: Does “be an SfN member” means to acquire membership with 200 dollars per year?
Thanks again!

All the best
Jingcheng
On 1/24/2018 18:03,Marina Picciottosfn@discoursemail.com wrote:

marina_picciotto
January 24 |

You must be an SfN member to get access to the reviewer training program. If you are a member, you can go to the Neuronline forum link in the editorial and follow the instructions there.

Yours,

Marina Picciotto

Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond.

In Reply To

lijingcheng1988
January 24 |
Hi, Dear Dr. Marina Picciotto, How can we get access to the reviewer training program? Thanks!

Visit Topic or reply to this email to respond.

To unsubscribe from these emails, click here.

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