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Abstract  

Editors of peer-reviewed journals obtain recommendations from peer reviewers as guidance in deciding upon the suitability of a submitted manuscript for publication. To investigate whether the number of reviewers used by an editor affects the rate at which manuscripts are rejected, 500 manuscripts submitted to Monthly Weather Review during 15.5 months in 2007–2008 were examined. Two and three reviewers were used for 306 and 155 manuscripts, respectively (92.2% of all manuscripts). Rejection rates for initial decisions and final decisions were not significantly different whether two or three reviewers were used. Manuscripts with more reviewers did not spend more rounds in review or have different rejection rates at each round. The results varied by editor, however, with some editors rejecting more two-reviewer manuscripts and others rejecting more three-reviewer manuscripts. Editors described using their scientific expertise in the decision-making process, either in determining the number of reviews to be sought or in making decisions once the reviews were received, approaches that differ from that of relying purely upon reviewer agreement as reported previously in the literature. A simple model is constructed for three decision-making strategies for editors: rejection when all reviewers recommend rejection, rejection when any reviewer recommends rejection, and rejection when a majority of reviewers recommend rejection. By plotting the probability of reviewer rejection against the probability of editor rejection, the decision-making process can be graphically illustrated, demonstrating that, for this dataset, editors are likely to reject a manuscript when any reviewer recommends rejection.

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Abstract

Multiple-part manuscripts are those submitted to a journal and intended for publication as a series, usually having “Part 1,” “Part I,” … “Part N” in the title. Although some journals prohibit such submissions, other journals (including Monthly Weather Review) have no such restrictions. To examine how reviewers and editors view multiple-part manuscripts, 308 multiple-part manuscripts submitted to Monthly Weather Review from May 2001 through February 2010 were examined. For multiple-part manuscripts having reached a final decision, 67% were accepted, which was also the average acceptance rate of all manuscripts (67%). Part I manuscripts submitted alone had a lower acceptance rate (61%) than the average, whereas Part II manuscripts submitted alone had a higher acceptance rate (77%) than the average. Two-part manuscripts submitted together had an acceptance rate (67%) comparable to the average. Typical reviewer comments for Part I manuscripts submitted alone included the manuscript being too long for the available results and the author making claims in Part I that would be supported in the unseen Part II. Typical comments for Part II manuscripts submitted alone included the somewhat contradictory statements that material was unnecessarily duplicated in the two manuscripts and more repetition was needed between the two parts. For two-part manuscripts submitted together, reviewers often recommended condensing the two manuscripts and merging them into one. In some cases, editors rejected manuscripts even though no reviewer recommended rejection because the sum of all reviewers’ comments would require substantial reorganization of the manuscripts. The results of this study suggest the following recommendations for authors considering writing multiple-part manuscripts: Write manuscripts that are sensibly independent of each other, make minimal reference to unsubmitted manuscripts, and have sufficient and substantiated scientific content within each manuscript.

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