Peer reviewing and atavisms

Summary: let’s make manuscripts for review reviewer-friendly instead of atavist-editor-friendly.

There are many things we carry on because of … let us call it “tradition” to avoid calling it by its proper name: “atavism.”

Today I am finishing reviewing a manuscript, and I feel irritated again that the article has the figures last, by themselves, and that I have to jump from one page with all the figure legends, while trying to match them to figures that the journal’s software had the good idea to tag with numbers, but still, no legends. Shit. I wonder, I publish articles myself, and I have decided to put the legends at the bottom of the figures because my experience as a reviewer has told me how much easier it would be if this was the norm. A few journals, when you upload figures, have a field for the legend, but few authors seem to notice. What about mes amis et amies, you made this very clear to authors? Why do we carry on with this atavism from much older times when figures were sent by snail mail, for lack of anything better, and pages had to be put physically together, and a whole process of postprodution (I don’t know why the speller is suggesting “prostitution” instead of this word) carried on. Who knows why the figures had to come separated from the legends, but whatever, it was so. Today, we electronically send the figures and manuscript first for review, and we are asked later to send “production” figures anyway. So why not save some pain to our peer reviewers and give them something easier to examine? Shit, even if the journal does not ask you so. They will ask for “proper” figure later anyway (if and when your article gets accepted, that is). So double and triple please, put those legends with the figures. Let us stop this atavist custom and be merrier.

Most sincerely,

Gabo, the angry reviewer

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