Field of Science

Publishing papers is slow

The bread and butter of scientific communication is the peer-reviewed journal. For those who are not familiar with the process, when a scientist (me for instance) wants to report some data, he writes it up and sends it to a journal. The editors of the journal ask a few other scientists who are experts in the same field to read the article and decide if it's any good.

This process has been criticized for being arbitrary and for being unable or unwilling to catch fraud. For all that, I honestly believe that peer review serves to improve the quality of papers. At least in psychology, it is rare for a journal to accept a paper on the first round. Instead, the reviewers suggest changes and additional experiments. Since they are experts in the field and bring a fresh eye to the problem, they often have good ideas.

There is one issue with peer review, however, that drives me nuts. That is how long the process takes. In January, a collaborator and I submitted short paper to a journal that promises extra-fast reviews of short papers. Three months later, we our expected rejection along with suggestions from the reviewers.

The thing is, in the three months that have passed, we've gotten busy with other things. I had to reread the paper a few times because I had forgotten all the details (for some reason, January feels like it was years ago). I spent the last week figuring out how to edit the experiment software, because it required some fancy programing that I had forgotten how to do.

Without further complaining, I'd like to announce the re-launch of The Video Experiment. If you have already participated (this is the only experiment I have ever run that involved a video), please do not participate in this version.* First of all, you'll be bored, because this is only a slight variation on the old experiment, and the video is the same. But more importantly, knowing what the experiment is about could affect your results.

That said, if you've never participated in the video experiment -- if you've never seen the "Bill et John" video or the "Kiwi" bird animation, you haven't participated -- please do so. It only takes 5-7 minutes, and it's easily the most entertaining experiment I've run online. Plus you get to see your own results at the end. With any luck, I can collect all the data we need within a few weeks, and then we can resubmit this paper.

*If you really want to participate, go ahead, but be sure to mark on the demographic form that you participated in the past.

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