Improving peer review efficiency with PaperStack

One of the benefits of DataSalon’s PaperStack service is that it helps publishers understand the efficiency of their submissions decision process. A key report here is ‘Time Taken to First Decision Split by Final Decision’.

This is a breakdown of the number of accepted and rejected articles, according to the number of days taken to make a first decision on those articles. The funnel view provides a simple pictorial representation of the rate at which articles are dealt with.

In general, we would expect to see a long bar in the top left (reflecting those articles promptly rejected by an editor without the need for a peer review process) and the chart narrowing to a small tail at the bottom. The quicker the chart narrows, the more efficient the editorial process. And it’s the articles at the bottom, where a first decision took a long time, that are the main area of concern – this indicates a bad experience for the authors of those articles.

Authors’ expectations will of course vary according to the field they’re working in – for some, there’s a real risk that a long editorial process will mean their research is already outdated by the time it’s published. So we can add filters to see the breakdown for specific subject areas, and judge each chart as is appropriate for that subject.

We can also show the flow for one particular journal, in order to highlight any specific issues. This journal’s editorial process looks efficient, with the chart quickly narrowing to a small tail:

But this journal has some issues with long decision times, particularly given that it covers a fast-moving area of research:

Having identified the problem areas, we can click through from those bars to a list of the actual articles to find out more about where the issues lie. Do they have particular reviewers in common? Do they have a large number of reviewers? Are they on particularly complex topics? Are the same reviewers being asked to review too many articles at once? Were there problems finding a reviewer?

In combination with the other reports available in PaperStack, the ‘Time Taken to First Decision Split by Final Decision’ report is a powerful tool to help you maximise the efficiency of your editorial program. To find out more or request a demo, please get in touch.