Posted by Nick James at 06:45 on 2012 Aug 02
I’ve been watching this thread for a few days and I think it is time to make some comments.Firstly, it would not be fair on the author or the referees to discuss specific aspects of Steve’s submission in a public forum so I will not do that.On Steve’s general points:- Guidance for authors is provided online but I agree it could do with a bit of an update. It is generally correct though and most authors make an effort to comply. We are, though, pretty flexible in what we would accept, unlike many professional journals.- It is correct that, once the paper had been rejected by Council, it is our policy not to enter into further correspondence with the author. This is done for reasons based on past experience. I accept that this is frustrating for the author but such discussions generally go nowhere and they take up a lot of valuable time.- The referees of each paper are unpaid experts in their field. Their job is to tell me whether the paper is correct, contains interesting material and, yes, whether it is likely to be of interest to our readers. I do not ask them to use their valuable time to copy edit papers, make technical corrections or help the author re-write stuff. That said, many referees will do this but usually only when the paper is likely to get through to publication.- I’d prefer referees not to be anonymous but sometimes they request this, generally for good reasons such as avoiding interminably long e-mail discussions with the author. I respect their wish.Over the last few years we’ve been trying very hard to make the content and layout of the Journal more appealing to our readership and I’m not really worried about the precise definition of a "scientific paper". We are an amateur organisation with a mostly amateur readership and we can use any definition that we want!I’d certainly be interested in views from everyone else but, to avoid the usual back-and-forth correspondence, I’ll back out of the discussion for a week or two before I respond again.Nick.