Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Author Levels Charge over Paper's Lost Positives: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Author Levels Charge over Paper's Lost Positives: News

Article excerpt

Essex scholar fears comments were cut to justify manuscript's rejection. Paul Jump reports.

An academic has called for authors to have the right to see everything written about them in referees' reports after discovering that positive comments made about a rejected manuscript had been removed.

Mark Harvey, director of the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation at the University of Essex, submitted a paper to the Routledge journal Economy and Society last year. It was rejected after being reviewed by five referees, some of whom had been suggested by Professor Harvey.

But by comparing the version of the reviewers' comments he received with those submitted by two of his recommended referees, he found that several positive comments about his paper had been removed.

Professor Harvey told Times Higher Education he feared that the comments may have been removed to justify the rejection. He added that the form for referees' comments used by Economy and Society did not suggest that reports could be edited before being shown to authors.

According to Professor Harvey, the journal's managing editor, Fran Tonkiss, reader in sociology at the London School of Economics, told him that only direct recommendations for publication had been excised from the reports. However, Professor Harvey disputed this and noted that a recommendation against publication in one report remained uncut.

He said Dr Tonkiss had told him that the journal would alter the wording of its referees' reporting form to indicate that they could be edited. But Professor Harvey argued that this would merely give editors licence to continue unfairly editing reports. …

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