Modern Times: A Quick Note on Editorial and Peer Review Work in Accelerated Publish-or-Perish Academic Cultures

Les temps modernes, by Pierre Metivier.  CC BY-NC
Les temps modernes, by Pierre Metivier. CC BY-NC

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship I receive via email the author queries sent via the journal’s contact form. The most frequent query is about the time it takes to get a decision and get published. It is quite telling about current academic publishing cultures that the how-soon-can-I-expect-to-get-published query outnumbers by far any queries seeking clarifications on the journal’s scope, peer review processes or journal guidelines.

Given that only today I received three different queries on the same subject, I’ve decided to document here a summary of my own personal editorial position on article processing times, and therefore on what I believe should ideally motivate authors to submit to the journal.

At The ComicsGrid, the estimated processing times information is publicly available in the relevant section in the journal at https://www.comicsgrid.com/about/submissions/. Hopefully that section provides enough information.

It’s worth saying again that processing times depend on a variety of factors (quality of the submission, adherence to guidelines, availability of peer reviewers, availability of editors, availability of authors to do revisions, copyediting, proofing; workload of typesetters and manuscript layout complexity, etc). These factors play out on an ad hoc basis and cannot be easily predicted nor guaranteed.

In my own editorial experience, the submissions to The Comics Grid that are more likely to get accepted relatively more quickly tend to be those that are submitted to the journal motivated by an interest in contributing relevant content to the journal, rather than those that are submitted under pressure or somehow motivated by an expectation of faster processing times.

As a researcher myself I totally understand and empathise with the pressures imposed by a publish-or-perish academic culture. Also as a researcher, I do fully understand the frustration that review and editorial decision waiting times can cause.

As both researchers and editors, the editorial team and pool of reviewers always-already aim for a professional, efficient, fair and relatively rapid peer review process, but this ‘rapidity’ is indeed relative and variable. However, we at The Comics Grid do seek to collaboratively develop a peer-reviewed journal where articles can be carefully, expertly and fairly considered. Apart from the required expertise, the main necessary resource to achieve that goal successfully is, I’m afraid, time.

We are very grateful to all authors who have considered The Comics Grid for a future submission.