Rapid Publication

Another day, another journal launch that promises “rapid review and publication of high-quality foundational research”. It strikes me that most journals in ecology/evolution now have an average time from submission to first decision of 30-50 days, which is so much quicker than just a decade ago. Making it any faster than this without returning most papers without review is hard, as both the editors and the reviewers still need to carefully read and consider the paper.¬†Nonetheless, there must be ongoing pressure for ever faster review and publication, as otherwise statements about speed wouldn’t keep appearing as the principal descriptor of the journal.
It’s clearly very nice to have your paper accepted immediately and with glowing reports, but I think people would be hesitant to cite papers if they knew that they were just given a quick glance over before being published online- as authors, we want the quick fix of validation from the peer review process, but as readers we want to know that everyone else’s papers have been dragged over the coals. It’s the latter that can’t be maintained in a 15 day review process, and hence I am beginning to worry that the constant downward pressure on decision times may ultimately weaken the safeguards against publishing poor quality science.

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