As many of you know, I’m on the board of Axios Review, an independent editorial board for ecology and evolution. For a modest fee, Axios Review helps authors improve their mss by providing independent reviews, just like at a journal. We then help authors refer the ms to the best-fitting and highest-impact journals. The fact that the ms comes with independent reviews attached is a huge plus in the eyes of the journal receiving the referral, and minimizes time wasted by repeated rounds of rejection and resubmission (see here for details on how it all works).* It’s a win-win for authors, journals, and science as a whole. I think it’s a great idea, which is why I joined the board and why I’ve used the service once myself (see also).
Managing Editor and founder Tim Vines just updated the editorial board on the growth of Axios Review in 2015, and with his permission I’m sharing the good news.
- Axios Review received 150 papers in 2015, up 50% over 2014.
- The list of journals that have formally agreed to consider mss that have gone through Axios Review has grown to over 60, and now includes many of the top journals in ecology and evolution (Ecol Lett, J Ecol, Am Nat, Ecol Monogr, Proceedings B, Evolution, Molec Ecol, Plos Biology…) Many other journals will consider Axios Review referrals informally.
- Papers referred by Axios Review have an 86% acceptance rate once they’re referred, and 50% of those accepted papers were accepted without being sent out for further review by the journal. 76 papers that have gone through Axios Review have now appeared in print.
- That high acceptance rate is not because Axios Review just refers everything to specialized or unselective journals. Recent papers referred by Axios Review have appeared in Ecology Letters, Evolution, American Naturalist, Molecular Ecology, etc. Here’s the full list of papers that have been published after referral by Axios Review.
- Mean time from submission to decision at Axios Review is 55 days. A big goal for the new year is to cut that to 45.
- Axios will be introducing “volume discount coupons”, which will provide a cheaper way for large groups or departments to club together and all try out Axios.
As I said, I think Axios Review is a great idea that’s working well. But it’s still a pretty small operation and many people who might be interested haven’t yet heard about it. Hence this post.
I’m sure many of you have questions about Axios Review, many of which are probably addressed in this FAQ. Looking forward to a comment thread that lives up to our usual high standards of professional, informed, informative discussion.
*And now for one our patented Footnotes Longer Than the Posts: Past comment threads on Axios Review have been derailed a bit by misunderstandings and mistaken statements. So in an attempt to ensure a productive thread, let me be clear up front on a few points. (i) Axios is not an attempt to somehow “game the system”, or let authors buy “celebrity endorsements”, or anything like that. The journals that receive referrals from Axios welcome them because the reviews arranged by Axios are helpful to them, just like the reviews they arrange themselves. (ii) The fact that Axios is incorporated as a for-profit company does not make it A Bad Thing. There are good reasons why it’s not a non-profit, and it’s only trying to cover basic costs, not make a big profit. See this post and the associated comment thread for an informed and nuanced discussion of for-profit vs. non-profit in the related context of journal publishers. (iii) Finally, the existence of Axios is not somehow a criticism of, attack on, or threat to other innovations in review and publishing, like Peerage of Science or PeerJ. Different strokes for different folks. The fact that I like Axios Review and prefer it to some other innovations does not mean I think there’s anything wrong with those other innovations or the people who prefer them. It’s great that different people are trying out different innovations so that scientists with different preferences can take advantage of the innovations they happen to prefer. And because different people have different preferences, I don’t see any reason why various peer review and publishing innovations can’t or shouldn’t coexist indefinitely. That’s evolution, it’s how things get better, and there’s no zero sum game here.