Autoren am Rande des Nervenzusammenbruchs (22)

January 17th, 2014 von Ralf Neumann

Kurz nach Neujahr veröffentlichte Dorothy Bishop, Professorin für Entwicklungsneuropsychologie an der Universität Oxford, in ihrem immer lesenswerten BishopBlog einen ganz besonderen “Neujahrsbrief” an alle Wissenschaftsverlage (“A New Year’s letter to academic publishers”). Sie beginnt mit der Klarstellung:

My relationships with journals are rather like a bad marriage: a mixture of dependency and hatred.

Um bald darauf festzustellen:

In the past, the top journals had no incentive to be accommodating to authors. There were too many of us chasing scarce page space. But there are now some new boys on the open access block, and some of them have recognised that if they want to attract people to publish with them, they should listen to what authors want. And if they want academics to continue to referee papers for no reward, then they had better treat them well too.

Sie fordert also ein, dass die Verlage netter werden sollen zu den Autoren (und übrigens auch zu den Reviewern). Dies vor allem, indem sie Autoren und Reviewern nicht weiter mit absolut unpraktischen Formatierungsregeln und unsinnigen organisatorischen Vorgaben derart viel Zeit stehlen, wie das momentan weithin noch der Fall ist. Und an diesem Punkt legt sie dann so richtig los:

For instance, many journals specify pointless formatting requirements for an initial submission. I really, really resent jumping through arbitrary hoops when the world is full of interesting things I could be doing. And cutting my toenails is considerably more interesting than reformatting references.


Even worse, some of the requirements of journals are just historical artefacts with no more rationale than male nipples.  Here’s a splendid post by Kate Jeffery which in fact was the impetus for this blogpost. I thought of Kate when, having carefully constructed a single manuscript document including figures, as instructed by the Instructions for Authors, I got to the submission portal to be strictly told that ON NO ACCOUNT must the figures be included in the main manuscript. Instead, they had to be separated, not only from the manuscript, but also from their captions (which had to be put as a list at the end of the manuscript). This makes sense ONCE THE PAPER IS ACCEPTED, when it needs to be typeset.  But not at the point of initial submission, when the paper’s fate is undecided: it may well be rejected, and if not, it will certainly require revision. And meanwhile, you have referees tearing their hair out trying to link up the text, the Figures and their captions.

Um dann am Ende zu verkünden:

So my message to publishers in 2014 is really very simple. The market is getting competitive and if you want to attract authors to send their best work to you, and referees to keep reviewing for you, you need to become more sensitive to our needs.

Damit dürfte Dorothy Bishop ganz, ganz Vielen direkt aus dem Herzen sprechen. Und genau deswegen haben wir hier die obigen Strecken aus ihrer tollen Tirade großzügig zitiert (die Engländer nennen sowas “Rant” — und was damit gemeint ist, lässt sich irgendwie nicht wirklich gut übersetzen).

Wäre doch zu schade, wenn diesen “Neujahrsbrief” nur einige Angelsachsen mitbekommen würden.

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