After 15 years experience of scientific book and journal publishing from various perspectives, such as journal founder, editor, reviewer, author, funder, entrepreneur etc., I found preprints. They seem to be a solution for slow review times.
For years I have developed LUMAT
journals by speeding up the editorial processes. This includes lightning fast editorial screening that cuts 80% of all manuscripts due to low quality or out-of-scope decision. Editorial screening takes about 2 to 3 days. Because of the high decline rate in pre-screening state, almost 90% of all articles sent to peer review are accepted.
In addition to fast pre-screening, also peer review must be done vigorously. This can only be achieved through the hard work of the editors. Editor is the key player in fast recruitment of the reviewers and making sure that the reviews are be delivered in time. I cannot reveal how it is done in practice because it is a trade secret. But I can tell you that it is primarily about selling individual services to all stakeholders.
This is the biggest challenge in scientific publishing. Publishers are pushing scientific literature into bulk to maximise the profit. This makes sense in a business wise (see Buranyi, 2017). In reality, science would need more individual approach to serve the needs of authors, readers and especially reviewers. The lack of reviewers seem to be the limiting reactant in the publishing pipeline.
Preprints are the solution
For me the preprints seem to be the solution. This far I have been able to publish 99% of all the submitted manuscripts eventually. Sometimes editorial screening and review/revisions rounds have taken over a year.
My last paper addressed AI chatbots in chemical information seeking (Pernaa et al., 2023). The theme is highly topical. New research published almost every day. Therefore, this is my first paper where I experienced anxiety because of the slow editorial process. I sent it to Frontiers in Education in November 2023 and after 1,5 months it has not been send to peer-review. The reason for this must that editors have not found reviewers. In my editorial work in LUMAT I have found out that many scholars would like to invest their time in writing own papers or funding applications rather than reviewing. This is understandable. Fortunately, there are preprint services.
While writing the manuscript I found out that all latest research from the topic where preprints. Actually there were 7 preprints available that are still in in peer-review. Hopefully, they will be published in 2024. I collected them to my Technology in Chemistry Education
open access article collection. It gives an nice overview what kind of research is currently in peer-review.
Cover of the issue 4(1): Chatbots in Chemistry Education – Preprints in 2023.
Preprint services for chemistry education research
While I maintained my open access collection, I screened AI chatbot papers from different preprint services. After the fist experience, I recommend that CER preprints can be found especially from following repositories:
I see preprint services highly valuable in getting you work to readers while the topic is still relevant. It can take almost year for me to get my AI chatbot article published. It can for example be declined from one journal and submitted to other etc. I do not blame the guest editors for the slow pace. They are usually novices in scientific publishing doing the work as voluntary work as everyone else. They are trying to do their best in editing interesting special issues and improve their CVs.
So, the manuscript will be eventually published in some journal for sure. While waiting, preprints are an excellent way to get your work already available for others to cite.
However, with preprints you need make sure that the quality of manuscript is the best that you can achieve. For example, our research group improves the quality via internal evaluation process where several peers read the manuscript and give revision recommendations before the submission. Also, all manuscripts go through proof reading that is offered by our university. It is mandatory because we do not use English as the main working language. With this approach the revision recommendations given by the reviewers and editor are usually quite minimal. At least in my current career stage.
Pernaa, J., Ikävalko, T., Takala, A., Vuorio, E., Pesonen, R., & Haatainen, O. (2023). Artificial Intelligence Chatbots in Chemical Information Seeking: Educational Insights through a SWOT analysis
[Preprint]. Social Sciences. https://doi.org/10.20944/preprints202312.1066.v1