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Appeals.

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Editorial
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200803308
Appeals
In
general, the refereeing of manuscripts at Angewandte Chemie is of the
“single-blind” variety. This means that
the author does not know who has
reviewed his paper and only in rare
cases does a referee sign his or her
report. There have been repeated attempts to introduce “double-blind” refereeing, where neither the authors nor
the referees know each others identities. However, this approach has proven
to be of little practical value, since a
well-informed referee would recognize
the work of his peers, provided that this
is not the first manuscript of a young
author. As an alternative, the opposite
of double-blind refereeing, namely refereeing where both the authors and the
referees know each others identities,
has also been tried. This includes the
extreme version, namely public refereeing by the entire scientific community, as
recently attempted by the journal Nature. With this approach, new manuscripts were made available online for
everyone (with the permission of the
authors), with the expectation of brisk
refereeing by peers. However, after a
few months, it became clear that neither
authors nor readers/referees were availing themselves of this opportunity and
the experiment was aborted. A culture
of public refereeing could perhaps be
established in relatively specialized scientific areas, but for the ca. 1.2 million
manuscripts currently appearing in scientific journals each year, public refereeing of all manuscripts by everyone is
definitely not practical, and simple
anonymous refereeing will remain the
norm.
E
xceptions to the rule can, however, be
made—and Angewandte Chemie presents an attractive example: Together
with this Editorial, a manuscript by
Roald
Hoffmann,
Paul von Ragu.
Schleyer, and Henry F. Schaefer III
(Figure 1) appears, entitled “An Appeal
for More Realism in the Matter of
Predicting Molecules”. In this “Appeal”,
the authors encourage their colleagues
to present their data in a fashion suitable
for their intended audience. For example, it should be clear as to what kind of
stability is meant when they write about
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Figure 1. Roald Hoffmann, Paul von Ragu Schleyer, and Henry F. Schaefer III (from left to right)
appeal to their colleagues to show more realism when giving information on the stability on
molecules whose structures have been calculated.
stable compounds. Publishing this Appeal was supported by three of the
referees, whereas the fourth criticized
the paper vehemently; all four referees
argued well. So, what could be better for
stimulating a public discussion than
presenting this Appeal together with
its referee reports? The referees Matthias Bickelhaupt, Gernot Frenking,
Wolfram Koch, and Markus Reiher
agreed to this, as did the authors Hoffmann/Schleyer/Schaefer III.
!
Please read for yourself—and
send us your comments by e-mail
to angewandte@wiley-vch.de. The
comments will be posted at
www.angewandte.org as quickly
as possible (at the latest, on the
following working day).
Having
introduced this Appeal, I
would like to follow up with a second
one of my own to all the referees of
Angewandte Chemie: Please be fair and
critical—or better: more critical than
ever! Starting in early 2008, we requested our referees classify the importance
of the work they are reviewing into one
of five categories:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
very important
highly important
important
important but too specialized
less important
B
efore, we only requested classification
into one of four categories, namely 1.
very important, 2. important, 3. less
important, 4. unimportant. This change
2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
was implemented for two reasons. First,
to classify results as “unimportant” is
very severe, if not outright impolite,
towards an author. Consequently, this
category was used only infrequently and
probably should not have existed in the
first place. Thus, referees effectively had
only three categories at their disposal
when they, for the sake of the author,
preferred not to use the fourth. Second,
ever more Communications are submitted for publication to Angewandte
Chemie—last year we received 5489,
and this year the number could be close
to 6000. This increase is a result of
(among other things, for sure) the very
high impact factor of Angewandte
Chemie, which has remained above 10
for the second year in a row (see
Figure 2). Unfortunately, we can only
accept a small fraction of these submissions. Last year the percentage of the
accepted papers dropped to 27 % (from
29 % in 2006; see Figure 3)! Given this
situation, the three categories were
becoming less useful, as fewer than
10 % of the Communications contained
“very important” results, as classified by
two referees, and of course, Angewandte
Chemie does not receive that many
papers in which “less important” results
are described. Thus, the editorial staff
was required to accept some of the
papers containing “important” results,
whereas others from the same category
had to be rejected. Now, with the
introduction of the category “highly
important”, referees are encouraged to
be somewhat more selective in their
judgement. Most important for the refereeing process is that the editors themselves form a well-grounded opinion of
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 7144 – 7145
Angewandte
Chemie
Figure 2. Trends in the Impact Factor from 2002–2006 (source: Institute of Scientific Information, Philadelphia, USA)
the manuscript, select referees with
great care, and read and interpret the
reports attentively. In the end, the
editors now only accept manuscripts
that fall into the top two categories,
reporting on very or highly important
results according to at least two referees.
Manuscripts containing “only” important results, which are not accepted by
Angewandte Chemie, can be accepted by
one of the sister journals without additional refereeing, provided that the
referees did not point to major deficiencies. Manuscripts that are submitted to a
sister journal after major alterations
may be sent to the same referees who
had reviewed the previous version for
Angewandte Chemie. If the results are
classified as “important” and if they are
of wider interest, submission to Chemistry—A European Journal would be a
good choice, as it now (since the beginning of 2008) publishes Communications in addition to Full Papers. Chemistry—An Asian Journal will certainly
take this step soon. For important but
somewhat more specialized work, a
large selection of sister journals is available (Figure 4). Transfers from Angewandte Chemie to all these journals are
simple, reduce the work for the authors,
and lighten the overall load for referees.
The homepage of Angewandte Chemie
contains special guidelines for referees
clarifying this policy in more detail.
Thus, I appeal to our referees only to
recommend those manuscripts that they
regard as “very important” or “highly
important” for acceptance by Angewandte
Chemie, and the referees comments
should be in agreement with their classification. I appeal to our authors to have
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 7144 – 7145
Figure 3. Rejection rates for Communications received at Angewandte
Chemie between 1986 and 2007.
understanding for this policy and to take
advantage of the transfer offers. And
perhaps even more importantly: Authors
should self-critically judge their manuscripts to select the right journal initially.
A
ngewandte Chemie no longer publishes
only 1000 pages as in the early 1980s;
today it publishes 10 000 pages—but the
motto has not changed: “Quality first”!
Peter G1litz
PS: This issue also contains an Essay by
Lutz Bornmann and Hans-Dieter Daniel entitled “The Effectiveness of the
Peer Review Process: Inter-Referee
Agreement and Predictive Validity of
Manuscript Refereeing at Angewandte
Chemie”. This article presents results
from a thorough study of the peerreview process at Angewandte Chemie,
which is characterized as being of “high
quality”. Particularly interesting is the
information that “almost all Communications rejected at Angewandte Chemie
are published elsewhere”. Where?
Please read for yourself!
Figure 4. Sister journals of Angewandte Chemie along with their Impact Factors (red) and Immediacy
Index (white). Note the very high first Immediacy Index of Chemistry—An Asian Journal (1.007) which is
close to those of Chemistry—A European Journal (1.033) and the Journal of the American Chemical Society
(1.397): this high value suggests a large increase in the Impact Factor in the next two years, because the
first, provisional impact factor is calculated from publications in the last six months and not, as for later
values, for a period of two years. From Issue 01/2009, Chemistry—An Asian Journal will also publish
Communications, just as Chemistry—A European Journal has done since Issue 12/2008.
2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
www.angewandte.org
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