2016 Stafford Abstract

What's the most valuable thing in scientific research? Data? Theory? Insight? Results? No; it is the reviewer. For, without the reviewer and the peer-review process, science becomes a specious thing, indeed. Who could trust prose not vetted by peers as being objective and generalizable? The reviewer is the backbone of the scientific publication process, and, yet, is among the most underappreciated and over-vilified party in science. Reviewers are often considered to be "late", "wrong", "biased", and, worse in the minds of many who submit to the premier journals of our field. In this paper, I deal with the issue of publication cycle times from behind the scenes and leverage my own views as someone who has commissioned innumerable reviews for potential journal articles as an editor and who freely recognizes the frailties of the process. Giving voice to a debate that recently transpired in our association's listserv, I speak to, respond to, and expand on points related to the time it takes for reviewers to do the work they do for us as authors, and I offer some insights as to the factors implicit in free service peer reviewing in the service of science and publication.