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June 30, 2022

Reviewer Roundup 2022 – Getting a better dataset

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/FAQ#reviewers

The editor talks about one of those tasks that invariably ends up being tackled during the summer – data clean up!

Some time ago, I went through the database of all our registered reviewers for Exchanges. You see, one key bit of information we ask of each reviewer is to provide is a few keywords covering their areas of expertise as part of their profile creation. In Open Journal System (OJS) parlance this is known as their reviewing interests. Reviewers can update, revise and amend these at any time by logging on to their profile, although I suspect in practice few actively do this unless promoted [1]. When my editors and myself come to look for suitable reviewers to examine a newly submitted manuscript, one of the first things we do is consult this reviewer database. In this way we hope to find someone with matching or closely related reviewing interests; although given the variety and variance in topics we tackle on the journal more often than not we have to do

Sadly, due to the way OJS operates it is entirely possible to create a new reviewer profile without this information being completed. It’s a technical oversight I’ve long hoped might be fixed, but for now it means over time as our database of reviewers swells, some will be running with incomplete profiles. Technically functional, but lacking that crucial interest information we need! Even more frustratingly as editor, there’s no easy way for me to press a couple of buttons and locate all the reviewing accounts which lack this information [2]. Which is why once again I’m deeply grateful to resident ITS OJS Guru Rob T for managing to capture it for me.

As last time there were quite a lot of accounts lacking this information, albeit not quite so many. I’m hoping that represents the improvement in the dataset from when I last ran this exercise. So, as of a few minutes ago I’ve written to all of these reviewers asking if they could take a couple of minutes to provide this missing, vital information. It’ll not only make our lives easier, but will also help ensure we’re more likely to ask reviewers to consider papers which correspond closely to their research and professional expertise.

There’s also been a couple of knock-on benefits from this process, alongside hopefully a better reviewer dataset [3]. Firstly, in offering instructions on how to update this information in the mailshot, I noticed the guide we provide on our FAQ was slightly outdated by the most recent system update. So, that’s now be rectified and clarified. Secondly, ever since I ran the mail merge to send out the messages my laptop has kept pinging every 30 seconds for quite a while. This is mostly bounce back messages from dead, defunct and otherwise formerly functional email accounts. Which means one of my follow up tasks will be to go through these ‘dead’ accounts and inactivate them as reviewers, so we don’t keep fruitlessly messaging them [4].

The end result though – hopefully – a tranche of improved reviewer data, some elderly accounts pruned and a better working experience for everyone involved! I can see I might try and make this an annual event at the start of each summer! Check back in June/July 2023 to see if I do…

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[1] I could be wildly wrong of course; this is only an assumption. But I know personally how rarely I update profile information about myself on any system unless something or someone prompts me to do so.

[2] The management information on OJS HAS improved in leaps and bounds, but it is still years behind where it should be. This isn’t a problem for us to resolve easily, as it relies on the open-source developer community to recognise that editors using OJS, NEED a whole lot more, better and more intuitive ways to query the data held by the system.

[3] I suspect I’ll also be dealing with a smattering of emails from academics asking me to delete/deactivate their accounts (it happened last time) too. Not sure this classes as a benefit though.

[4] An additional frustration with OJS is it doesn’t inform me when I send system emails which accounts are bouncing. I believe the WUP chief and tech sees these messages, but I’ve never been able to. Hence, this is one of the few times when I can really discover which OJS profiles on Exchanges are now effectively defunct.



June 13, 2022

Reviewer Roundup ‘22

Follow-up to Refreshing Exchanges' Reviewer Database from Exchanges - Editorial Reflections from Warwick's Interdisciplinary Journal

Reviewers are a vital part of the Exchanges team - and making sure our records for each of them are up-to-date is just as vital.

Today I’m working on one of those tasks that’s been sitting in my to-do list for sometime: going through all the registered reviewer records to see which ones haven’t added any reviewer interests. Long-time readers will recall I did a similar task a few years ago, and the result was a wave of researchers upgrading their records, albeit alongside some who decided to request we remove their contact details – as is their right.

You would think tools which permit functionality like ‘display all reviewer users’ where ‘researcher interest is a null field’ would be the sort of thing baked into a journal management system like OJS. But, as with so much of the platform’s management information systems it’s not really been as well developed as say the core editorial workflow controls. The most recent update we applied to the platform did – I am pleased to report – provide some much-improved managerial tools that I’ve been pleased to make use of on more than one occasion. It is now possible for example to output a .CSV file containing the names of all users within a certain group. So, I guess from where I’m sitting, we’re halfway there[1].

However, in this file the reviewer interests information is not among the information which can be outputted. This is a shame as a simple Excel function would have enabled me to filter all 700+ registered reviewers down to just those lacking any listed research interests. Which means I had to go to speak to my technical guru in IT Services and crave a boon from them! Thankfully, this the lovely OJS Technical Lead was able to deploy a little back-office Python scripting to quickly draw out exactly the data I needed. Kudos, as on so many occasions, to them. It’s no reflection on them that this obvious functionality is lacking from a editorial user perspective. Maybe I can wish for it to appear in a future update…[2]

Following a little data clean-up - names with non-British characters seem to have been rendered oddly in the output file for one – all that remains now is to prepare my mailshot text and send it out (BCC of course) to all our reviewers via a mail merge. Based on the experience last time, I suspect we’ll have one of three reactions from those were contact:

(1) Email bounceback, indicated a defunct account

(2) A request for us to remove the account

(3) An update to the record made by the user[3]

Option 3 is my desired outcome of course, but I suspect I’ll be dealing with a fair bit of (1) and (2). Users can inactivate, or remove their reviewer registration themselves, but if they ask, I’ll happily adjust their account as requested. For those dead accounts though, I’ll need to go through and check they weren’t actively involved in any recent reviews before, with regrets, removing them from our reviewer’s list.

Hence, if you are one of our reviewers, and you get a message from me this week to update your account details – don’t feel singled out – you’re just one among many we’re asking to help us to help you – and direct the right kind of reviews in your direction!

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Endnotes

[1] Livin’ on a prayer or not

[2] I shall not hold my breath on this one.

[3] If you want to jump the gun and update your details - you'll find instructions here: https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/FAQ#reviewers


April 28, 2020

New Fellows, New Reviewers

Last week we welcomed the latest group of early career fellows (ECFs) to the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), the fifth cohort to arrive since I joined the IAS myself. Naturally, with the current lock-down when I say ‘welcomed’ and ‘meet’, I am referring to a more virtualised engagement than we would normally enjoy, which limited the usual chance for informal discussions. As always, our ECFs seem an interesting and varied group, and I hope they get a lot of benefit from their time engaging with the IAS and their interactions with each other. I hope they also enjoyed the video presentation I prepared, explaining more about the Exchanges journal.

One of the things I usually stress to our new fellows in person when they come on board, is how they can contribute to Exchanges. While occasionally we have vacancies on the Editorial Board, principally we always encourage them to write for the journal: be it a peer-reviewed piece, an interview or a critical review; all contributions are warmly welcomed. Although, like every other contribution they will undergo significant scrutinization before we consider accepting them for publication - we do have a quality bar which has to be met, after all.

Unsurprisingly, given the track record of previous ECFs to progress their careers rapidly, many of them find contributing an article to our journal isn’t something for which they can always find sufficient time. However, many of them do take the opportunity to register as a potential reviewer with Exchanges. This pleases me immesely, because as an interdisciplinary journal we receive such a broad range of potential papers we need to ensure our reviewers’ database contains a similar varied range of scholars. I’ve discussed previously about how much we value our reviewers’ contributions, and that’s something which hasn’t changed. It’s also a great contribution from our fellows, as Exchanges was created as an offshoot of our ECF programme, and I’m keen to keep the links between the two healthy and active.

Who can review?

In terms of whom makes a suitable reviewer, we normally welcome early career and established researchers and scholars to register as reviewers. You don’t need to be from Warwick, and in fact, our reviewer community today is more globalised than ever, a diversity of voice which I’m keen to continue expanding upon. Certainly, we would especially welcome scholars from South America and Africa as new reviewers, as they are currently underrepresented in our database.

Registering as a reviewer

Hence, if you would like to become part of our community and potentially contribute to our journal in a small but vital way, then register today. Practically speaking, registering as a reviewer only takes a few moments

>Go to https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/user/register and complete the online form, noting on the second screen your wish to be added to our reviewers' register.

>Make sure you include your reviewing Interests as keywords and phrases, and ideally provide a short biography; as this helps our editors spot the right people to call on.

>Plus, if you're already registered (as a reader or author) with Exchanges, you can register as a potential reviewer by loging in and edting your profile.

Registered reviewers can update, edit or remove your reviewing account at any time online, or via contacting the Editor-in-Chief. If your main email changes especially, say due to a new job, this is important as we like to keep in touch with people for years to come as they develop their careers. I should add, reviewer profile information is never displayed publicly, and we use it solely to identify suitable people as peer-reviewers and to communicate with them about this.


October 09, 2019

Refreshing Exchanges' Reviewer Database

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/peerreviewer

Today I finally hit the big red button on something I’ve been working on over the summer. This has been a task which has oscillated between being a labour of love, while also posing a seemingly Sisyphean task [1]. Thus, reaching its conclusion has brought a combination of relief and satisfaction but also unsurprisingly generated a bit more work for me before I could call it a day. It involved that most crucial of academic journal contributors: peer-reviewers. As I’ve mentioned before, peer-reviewers aren’t just an essential part of the Exchanges editorial workflow, they’re contributions and insights are deeply valued by the Editorial Team and authors alike.

In short, in my spare working moments I’ve been methodically working though our database of registered peer-reviewers and examining what each and every one of them has listed as their reviewer interests. Registered reviewer interests are crucial as these are what my editors and I search when we’re looking for people to participate in peer review of our submitted papers. The main part of my ‘summer fun’ exercise was to identify those people who’ve registered profiles and expressed a willingness to be potential reviewers for Exchanges, and examine what they say about themselves.

But, and it’s a big but, where registered reviewers haven’t listed any research interests then, well they’re essentially invisible to the editors when seeking potential peer-reviewers. If we don’t know what field you work in, or the areas of expertise you profess, then we’re not going to approach you as a reviewer. A surprising 38.5% of our registered reviewers turned out to have failed to supply this key information on their registered profiles. Hence, today’s figurative ‘button’ dispatched emails to those would-be reviewers identified as deficient in this respect, asking if they’d kindly spend a few moments reviewing their profiles and adding in this information.

This naturally uncovered over 40 dead email addresses, and while I’ve managed to correct a few, sadly I’ve removed the majority from our reviewer register. This won’t stop people re-registering with a new email address, something I’d strongly encourage, but does mean our reviewer database now only contains contacts with valid contact addresses. I’ve also had a number of nice chats with former and would be reviewers as a result, which is an unexpected bonus, as engaging with our readership and continuators alike is always a pleasure.

A further serendipitous part of this exercise was the chance to do some light data cleansing work on the rest of the reviewer profiles. Quite a few of these had reviewer interests somewhat confusingly listed, which means, I suspect, they’d have risked being overlooked by my editors. I’m happy now these registered reviewers will turn up more frequently and accurately when we’re looking for people to contribute to our quality assurance activities.

If you are one of our reviewers, then checking your review interests are up-to-date, accurate and complete is one of the most useful things you can do for our journal. Many of the reviewers who do have information on their interests, have only listed one or two areas, whereas five or more would be far more representative of a ‘good’ record. Updating your reviewer profile only takes a few moments and there are easy instructions on how to go about it [2].

Conversely, if you would like to register as a reviewer with us, then by all means please do consider it. You’ll likely find our peer-reviewer guidance helpful [3]. And if you've never peer-reviewed before - then can I recommend this excellent text to get you started [4].

In the meanwhile, I can now crack on with planning my workshops, meetings and presentations for the autumn term now, with this grand summer task solidly in the rear-view mirror.

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[1] Foolishly I thought OJS might be able to run off a report for me, with a list of all reviewers lacking any entries in their review field, but it appears the way the database is designed or implemented makes this impossible. Or at least highly impractical for my tech support people. One of the many reasons why much better managerial reporting tools for the platform are right up at the top of my technical wishlist for the platform! The time they could save me is not inconsiderable.

[2] https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/FAQ#reviewers

[3] https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/peerreviewer

[4] http://www.plotina.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Introduction-to-Peer-Review-Guide.pdf #ShamelessSelfPromotion



June 25, 2019

How do I update my Reviewer Interests on my Profile?

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/login

If you are registered as a potential reviewer with Exchanges, listing your research interests is a vital tool for our editors when they are seeking knowledgeable people to consider the quality, content and clarity of a submitted manuscript. However, a frequently asked question here at Exchanges is ‘How do I update my personal profile to include my research interests correctly?’ While you may have added some keywords when you first registered with us, it is possible to add or edit your previously listed interests at any later point too.

1) Firstly, head over to https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/login, and login if necessary.

2) Move your curser over your Profile ID (e.g. garethjjohnson in the example below, although yours will be your personal ID). You can find the Profile ID on the top right-hand of your screen

View Profile

3) Click on View Profile and you’ll see a range of menu options allowing you to customise various aspects of your Exchanges experience.

4) Click on Rolesand you’ll see a box half way down the screen called Reviewing Interests. Previously added interests may have already been added by yourself or our editors, as shown in the example below.

Editing reviewing interests

5) To add more, click in the Reviewing Interests box, and then enter a keywordor phrase. As you type you'll see suggestions, based on what other reviewers have listed as their interests. You canuse these terms, but it is not expected, as we're aware reviewers' interests and fields can be subtly different or nuanced.

6) Press returnto add the new keyword to the list.

7) You’ll see the new keyword or phrase appears in a small grey box, with a pink Xat the end. You can removethis, or any other previously added reviewing interest keyword by clicking on the X.

8) Finally, click on Save to confirmyour changes. Note, if you click away to another menu within your profile, any additions or amendments to your reviewing interests will notbe saved.

Remember, you can repeat this editing process at any point as your professional interests develop, or should you wish to broaden the range of material you’d be prepared to consider peer-reviewing.

If you're not already signed-up as a reviewer with Exchanges, this earlier post explains the easy steps you can take to register your interest with us. You'll be warmly welcomed!


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