Two things struck me today, as I received responses from potential reviewers saying that they were swamped with reviews.
(1) Given the sheer explosion in journals, and the requests for reviews being x a zillion in comparison to 10 years ago, the day of actually paying reviewers seems nigh. Actually, if we all banded together and said we want paying for our time, the shit journals would disappear and Action Editors would actually read the ms before sending it out for review.
(2) There are a few times of year that are not great for submitting your article and expecting a speedy turnover. Xmas, Easter, school holidays in the summer, and Exam Marking Season. We are in the latter at the moment. Requests for reviews get short shrift responses “I’m too busy marking 1000 scripts, go away!”. So, you wind your way down your list of potential reviewers….the one’s you know will do a really good, fair, job, have said no. But you have to find reviewers! So, you end up going to people you’d rather not go to. Those who have an axe to grind, those who are rude, those who you think are dubious researchers. Before I get to that point, I try postdocs….usually guaranteed to agree, although that has to be weighted with the fact that the only people harsher at reviews are PhD students.
So, my recommendation for all you writers out there is, don’t submit at these times of the year! Otherwise, you might not get a favourable outcome, fair reviewers, good reviews, or at the very least, a very very long wait.
And if, at one of these times of year, a request for a review comes across your email, consider saying yes. If you point blank won’t take them, then don’t expect others to review your work!
And, one final thing, for the love of jesus, recommend reviewers in your cover letter! Otherwise you can’t complain when I send it to your arch nemesis!