Dear Sir,

The peer review process holds the most important place, when it comes to publication of a manuscript, and is directed towards facilitating the journal editor in making a decision. Publishing research results in a high impact journal is every investigator’s goal. Unfortunately, the time period occurring between submission of manuscript and receiving an editorial decision, is typically very long. According to a recent survey report of 3,040 authors who had published their research in Web of Science (Thomson Reuters, Philadelphia, US), 38% were displeased with the peer review processing time of their manuscripts.1 These prolonged processing times have a negative influence on the research results (especially in the case of original discoveries) as they can make them outdated, if rejected completely by a few journals on the basis of suitability to an individual journal’s aim and objectives. Delay in publication not only negatively effects the research potential of individual authors contending for acknowledgment, but also defers the publication of new knowledge, which is a loss to the scientific community as a whole.2

Reviewership is generally a voluntary (unpaid) job; therefore, it is understandable that the reviewers remain busy with their respective jobs and their efforts in finding time to review the manuscripts are always appreciated. Still, an attempt to accelerate the reviewing process must be made by individual journals. One possible proposal is to offer the reviewers a financial incentive based on the timely return of their review report. Of course, there are constraints around generating those finances and a possible negative effect of hastiness on the reviewing process; nonetheless, it could result in publishing of suitable manuscripts within appropriate times. Other strategies to shorten the reviewing times include training of reviewers and removal of reviewers from the Journal’s reviewer panel in the event of unsatisfactory performance.

The peer review process has its benefits and flaws. Therefore, an attempt should be made to make it more efficient by taking measures to reduce long peer review times and to ensure well-timed publication of research.

Imran Farooq BDS MSc Oral Biology (UK)
Department of Biomedical Dental Sciences,
University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia

References
1. Publishing Research Consortium. Peer review in scholarly journals: perspective of the scholarly community – an international study. Publishing Research Consortium, Bristol, UK, 2008.
2. Bornmann, L., Danielab, H-D. How long is the peer review process for journal manuscripts? A case study on Angewandte Chemie International Edition. CHIMIA 2010; 64: 72-77.

Reply from the Honorary Editor
Our correspondent is making a global point about publication delays and their impact on the availability of knowledge. His point is well made and prompted us to examine the time involved in the peer review process in the Journal. Based on the random selection of 15 papers received between April 28 and December 11, 2014, we can say that 13 of those 15 had been sent out to review within six days of receipt. The two other papers were received while one or more key people were on holidays but were dealt with promptly on return. Reviewers in Ireland work quickly and the average response time was 18 days. Those reviews have to be collated for dispatch to the author, and therefore can only be sent after the last review has come back to the Journal. Despite this, we communicated back to the authors within an average of a further 29 days.

For the record, of the 15 papers, two have been accepted already, and six authors are making changes and resubmitting, while seven have been rejected. There is, of course, a further issue in having the necessary space available for publication in the print edition of the Journal. We cleared a backlog of papers 15 months ago through the generous provision by the IDA of additional pages in the Journal. We are currently exploring the possibility of, and it is our intention to implement, immediate electronic publication on acceptance, to be followed by publication in print as normal at a later date.

We encourage all dentists to submit research papers, reviews of literature, case studies and clinical articles to us – it makes our Journal relevant and improves knowledge for all the profession in Ireland.

Professor Leo F.A. Stassen
Honorary Editor