Axios Review continues to take off; you should try it

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.


8 thoughts on “Axios Review continues to take off; you should try it

  1. So… here’s a question: do you think Axios Review is best suited towards a high-impact or a low-impact paper? (Or does it not matter?) I’m thinking about my various MSes-in-progress, and which I might consider sending to Axios. There is one rather lowish impact paper that may not ever see the light of day. It may need to go to multiple journals because it’s not flashy and because it doesn’t have a nice obvious ‘fit’ anywhere. I could also see a high-impact paper where Axios might be helpful in aiming high and going “down the ladder” as necessary. What do you think?

    • Good question, to which you might well get different answers from different people (including different people on the Axios Review editorial board).

      I don’t know that Axios Review is of much value if you’re choosing between unselective, low-impact journals (assuming that there are no technical problems with your paper). If you’ve got a low-impact paper that you just want to get out there rather than having it go unpublished, just pick an unselective journal yourself and don’t sweat the choice too much. And if there’s no obvious fit (say, because it’s an interdisciplinary paper), then pick a really broad journal like Plos One so that fit isn’t an issue.

      I think Axios has the most value in giving you feedback about whether your high-impact ms really is as high-impact as you think it is, and if so, where would be the best fit for it. The goal is to *prevent* you from having to work your way “down the ladder”, by ensuring that you don’t aim too high (or too low).

      You could also consider whether anyone on the Axios editorial board seems particularly well-suited to handle your mss and give you feedback on where to send them. The Axios Review board is focused on ecology and evolution. Axios might not be of much help if that isn’t the audience for your paper (say, because your paper is aimed at anyone doing “citizen science”, not just ecologists)

      Just my two cents; I’m sure others feel differently.

  2. So far I’ve had one student use Axios. The outcome is not yet fully written (we’ve gotten reviews back and suggestions for revision and target journals but not yet submitted to the target journal). It has been a very positive experience so far.

    In reply to Margaret, in our case, the manuscript was a bit out of the mainstream, so we were unsure how it would be perceived (e.g. high impact vs medium vs low). Axios was very helpful in this regard (between medium and high was the answer with some good journal recommendations).

  3. Pingback: Linkfest: 13 February 2016 | Tea 'N' Mango Juice

  4. Pingback: Axios Review is working. And now it’s a non-profit. You should try it. | Dynamic Ecology

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