Dr Amanda Murdie offers reviewing advice (+ plea for grace, humility and patience)

This below is the text of a Twitter thread by Dr Amanda Murdie, editor of International Studies Review (ISR), published with her kind permission. For other excellent advice, see this interview with Sikina Jinnah.

We’ve now been editing @IntlStudiesRev for a bit over three years! I’m so grateful for our team, especially our fantastic managing editors (@ryanyulinliou & previously @nbsisu). Here are some things I’ve learned so far:

1. Introductions and abstracts are the most important part of a paper. I would imagine that lot of reviewers have already made their mind up on a manuscript based on the introduction.

2. The review process is stochastic. Sometimes, we all just get a really bad Reviewer 2. As an editor, I try to weigh all the evidence, but a very critical and thorough review is hard to overcome.

3. Similarly, the typical reviewer recommends “revise and resubmit” way too much, even including the wording in their review. The recommendation can be at odds with the rating the reviewer gives the manuscript.

As an author, I need to remember that what seems like a positive or lukewarm review may not really indicate to the editors that the piece could be successfully revised.

4. If we’ve given a revise and resubmit, we really do want to see the paper successfully revised. It pains me to have to issue a reject after resubmission. That said, the tone and thorough content of the revision memo is key at this stage. This might be a situation like the “customer is always right.” Even if you disagree with the suggested review, it’s best to do so in a way that is respectful to the reviewer.

5. Reviews vary. I think reviews at both ends of the spectrum (too short and too long) can be problematic. Too short, it comes across as dismissive and potentially biased. Too long (>5 pages), it really can be too much to deal with and is often nit-picky.

6. Editors, reviewers, and authors, we are all doing too much in a very imperfect system. Grace, humility, and patience are required.

7. I’ve enjoyed the job more than I thought I would. I’ve realized how much I don’t know, even in my own subfield. International relations and international studies are diverse fields, and we need to make sure we are talking to each other in a way that we can all understand.

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