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Journal Information
Journal ID (publisher-id): jgi
ISSN: 1910-7595
Publisher: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Article Information
© 1999-2005 The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Publication date: March 2005
Publisher Id: jgi.2005.13.9
DOI: 10.4309/jgi.2005.13.9

The peer review process at the Journal of Gambling Issues

You may have noticed a coda at the end of a paper, “This article was peer reviewed,” and wondered, “What does that really mean?” If so, you are in good company. Questions and comments to this editor by well-educated people indicate that many do not understand how peer review functions. Readers who are not researchers may have never had exposure to the theory and practice of this cornerstone of independent scholarly publishing. Yet peer review is an essential component of science that can help assure higher quality articles and the emergence of new paradigms.

In this nuts-and-bolts editorial essay on how peer review works at the Journal of Gambling Issues (JGI), we hope to offer insight for those who wonder how we carry out scholarly publication. This essay will combine descriptions of ethics (the morality of what should happen) with reality-based pragmatics (what really happens) in peer review.

A quick overview. Here is a 107-word (one half-minute) summary of what would probably happen if you were to submit a good-quality paper for review to the JGI. First, the editor would remove identifying information so that the author(s) cannot be identified. Next, we would find two reviewers with a background of research or clinical experience in your specific topic, and we'd ask them to evaluate your paper. Throughout, their criteria would be, “Does this paper attain high standards of either sound scholarship or clinical practice?” and, “Is it original?” We would send you their anonymous comments and ask you to respond. If in your second version you responded well to all comments—as do most authors—then your paper would be accepted for publication. (A more detailed description of the review process appears below.)

Why anonymous authors and reviewers? The peer-review process as we know it evolved after WWII when there was increasing interest in evaluations that removed biases based on an author's academic status (whether high or low), gender, ethnicity/race, location, and other potentially prejudicial factors. Making authors anonymous to reviewers, with the author or editor removing identifying information, was one means to promote this. (One editor compares anonymous reviews to musician tryouts behind a curtain that allow ability to be evaluated without revealing who is playing. When this practice was adopted for symphony orchestra tryouts, the number of female players hired soared [Pritchard, 2001].) The rationale for making reviewers anonymous to authors is to protect them from acrimony and possible career fallout. A common term for this process of mutual anonymity between authors and reviewers is “blind review.”

Fair review. The goal of peer review is to supply the author with useful feedback on how a fair reviewer assesses the quality of her paper. There are dozens of potential areas for evaluation, but the basic questions are: (a) Is the content of the paper scientifically or clinically sound? (b) Is the literature review thorough and is it integrated into the paper? (c) Are the results well presented and convincing? and (d) Does the paper present original results that contribute to the field of gambling studies? For a hands-on look at the criteria that we offer to reviewers, please see this attachment (Word file: 47 kb).

You may wonder if reviewers sometimes slip from using fair criteria such as “scholarly (or scientific or clinical) excellence” into unconsciously substituting more personal criteria such as, “Here's how I think this treatment (or research) really should have been done.” To substitute one's own preferences is clearly unfair to an author, and in editing the journal we do all that we can to prevent it. Such slips are usually clear.

Responding to criticisms. Comments from reviewers are not directives. We tell authors:

A reviewer's comments are not orders that have to be carried out. To the contrary, for each critique that a reviewer has made, an author has three options:

i) to discuss/debate/refute a reviewer's comment(s), or –

ii) to rewrite the text in response to a comment(s), or –

iii) a combination of these, so that an author both discusses/debates/refutes a reviewer's comment(s) and rewrites to accommodate some comments by a reviewer.

In many of the articles that you see in print, there are several points that are just as the author intended because she debated and defended her approach as written. As editor, we sometimes very much give the author the benefit of the doubt.

Number of reviews; acceptance rate. Most JGI papers (73%) undergo one extensive revision before acceptance. It is rare for a paper submitted to the JGI to be accepted as first presented or with minor changes (9%). Beginning authors may be comforted to know that papers by even the most senior researchers in gambling studies usually go through one revision and two stages of review. About 18% of papers pass through a third stage of review. (No paper has yet gone through four stages.)

About one third of submitted papers receive a critical review and the author never responds with a second version. In 2003-2004 we accepted 39% of the papers submitted. The remaining third of the papers are still in revision and review. Reviewers frequently find that they cannot review a paper due to illness, or career or family commitments. This entails finding yet another qualified reviewer and results in delays. Authors usually take several months to rewrite and submit new versions.

In more detail. Now that you understand some of the basic points of peer review, here is a more complete description of the process:

1) The first author submits a paper, requests that it be peer-reviewed, and assures the editor that it is not being considered elsewhere for publication.

2) The editor removes all identifying information from the paper to support an anonymous review process. Next, we choose two (rarely, three) peer reviewers with expertise in the specialty topic for the paper and request that they return their evaluations within 30 calendar days. (If the author requests that one or two specific reviewers not be used, due to personal or other reasons, the editor always complies.) At the JGI, reviewers who return a thorough review within 30 days of the initial request receive an honorarium of US$100 in recognition of their expertise and labour.

3) The editor reads the reviews, removes identifying information, and e-mails the reviews to the author with editorial comments, reminding the author of the three options for response (refute/debate, rewrite, or both refute/debate and rewrite).

4) Version two arrives from the author. It is usually unwise for the editor to assess whether a reviewer's critique has been sufficiently answered, for the reviewer herself is the best judge. Therefore we ask reviewers to judge the adequacy of the author's response. If necessary, another round of revision and review is initiated.

5) However, if there is agreement that the author has responded well to comments—or, perhaps, after diplomatic discussion by the editor with all parties—the paper is accepted for publication.

Clinical papers. The review process described above is altered slightly for papers on clinical topics. Clinicians often develop valuable insights that are not appropriate for scientific verification. A recent example is the article by Rugle (2003) entitled “Chasing—It's not just about the money: Clinical reflections” (at: http://www.camh.net/egambling/issue10/ejgi_10_rugle.html). Clinical papers are reviewed by two clinicians (rarely, three) who are experienced in the paper's specialty area. We ask them to assess the paper by three criteria:

1) Is it original? Does it go beyond “What every clinician should know” and would have learned in schooling (or other training)?

2) Is it credible? Does it make sense?

3) Is it of potential value to some clinicians? Or to some clients?

Disputes and misunderstandings. Here at the JGI, we rarely have to intervene to ensure fair and even-handed treatment for authors or reviewers. When there are genuine misunderstandings (such as when an author—we feel—has adequately addressed a critique, but the reviewer honestly disagrees, and in other situations requiring diplomacy), we work to support ethical treatment of both authors and reviewers. After five years of editing the JGI we are pleased to witness that the overwhelming majority of people in the field of gambling studies are highly ethical and collegial, and treat their peers with respect and good will.

Appeals process. We are developing an appeals process so that an author who feels that a paper was unfairly rejected will have recourse to assessment by an alternate group.

Non-peer reviewed articles. Some JGI articles end with the statement: “This article was not peer reviewed.” These include opinion articles, first-person accounts, reviews (books, Web sites, videos, DVDs, movies) and letters to the editor. With opinion articles and letters to the editor we guard against publishing libellous material and personal (ad hominem) comments. We may ask authors to consider the effectiveness of their essays by assessing wording, omissions, and evidence. The editor may then:

1) accept the paper, either as is, or pending clarification or minor rewriting to promote ease of understanding by readers, and to deal with personal attacks and legal issues—especially of liability.

2) consult with an editorial board member who has expertise on the topic to help assess the submitted article's merit.

3) consult with the entire editorial board to assess whether they feel that the article merits release and what problems they may see in it.

We hope that, whether peer-reviewed or not, the JGI brings you articles that help you to understand the place of gambling in our world and to formulate your own views as a citizen.

We welcome your comments.

Phil Lange, editor Phil_Lange@camh.net

Competing interests: The author is the editor of the Journal of Gambling Issues.


References
Pritchard, H. K.. ( 2001). Council of Science Editors' convocation addresses peer review, authorship. Science Editor, 24 (2), 51-53.
Rugle, L.. ( 2004). Chasing—It's not just about the money: Clinical reflections. Electronic Journal of Gambling Issues: eGambling, 10. Retrieved January 26, 2005, from http://www.camh.net/egambling/issue10/ejgi_10_rugle.html

Statement of purpose

The Journal of Gambling Issues (JGI) offers an Internet-based forum for developments in gambling-related research, policy and treatment as well as personal accounts about gambling and gambling behaviour. Through publishing peer-reviewed articles about gambling as a social phenomenon and the prevention and treatment of gambling problems, it is our aim is to help make sense of how gambling affects us all.

The JGI is published by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and is fully funded by the Ontario Substance Abuse Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We welcome manuscripts submitted by researchers and clinicians, people involved in gambling as players, and family and friends of gamblers.

Editor

Phil Lange

Editorial Board

Bruce Ballon, Peter Ferentzy, Nina Littman-Sharp, Robert Murray, Wayne Skinner, Tony Toneatto Nigel E. Turner, and Martin Zack, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Advisory Board

Peter Adams, Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioural Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Will Bennis, Max Planck Institute, Berlin, Germany

Alex Blaszczynski, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Jeffrey L. Derevensky, International Center for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mark Griffiths, Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, U.K.

David C. Hodgins, Dept. of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Edward Kwan, Independent practice, Hong Kong, China

Ray McNeil, Nova Scotia Department of Health, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lia Nower, School of Social Welfare, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Misouri, U.S.A.

Nancy Petry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, U.S.A.

María Prieto, Dept. of Psychological Intervention, University P. Comillas, Madrid, Spain

Lusanda U.Z. Rataemane, National Gambling Board, Hatfield, Pretoria, South Africa

Gerda Reith, Dept. of Sociology, Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

Cesar A. Sanchez-Bello, Pathological Gambling Section of Latin-American Psychiatric Association, Isla de Margarita, Venezuela

Målfrid Todal, Division of Psychiatry, St. Olav's Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

Rachel A. Volberg, Gemini Research, Ltd., Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Monica L. Zilberman, Institute of Psychiatry, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Reviewers

Peter Adams, Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioural Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Bruce Ballon, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Alex Blaszczynski, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Linda Chamberlain, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

Gerry Cooper, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Jeff Derevensky, Youth Gambling Research & Treatment Clinic, Dept of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

William Eadington, Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, University of Nevada at Reno, Reno, Nevada, U.S.A .

Pat Erickson, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jackie Ferris, Ferris Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

G. Ron Frisch, Problem Gambling Research Group, Dept of Psychology, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Richard Govoni, Problem Gambling Research Group, Dept of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Mark Griffiths, Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, U.K.

Rina Gupta, Youth Gambling Research & Treatment Clinic, Dept of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David C. Hodgins, Addiction Centre, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Roger Horbay, Game Planit Interactive Corp., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Alun C. Jackson, School of Social Work, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, New South Wales, Australia

Durand Jacobs, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, California, U.S.A.

Jeffrey Kassinove, Dept of Psychology, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S.A.

David Korn, Dept. of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Igor Kusyszyn, Dept. of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Robert Ladouceur, École de Psychologie, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

Samuel Law, Baffin Regional Hospital, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Henry Lesieur, Dept of Psychiatry, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

Vanessa López-Viets, Dept of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Ray MacNeil, Nova Scotia Department of Health, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Virginia McGowan, Addictions Counselling Program, The University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Goldie Millar, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

María Prieto, Dept. of Psychological Intervention, University P. Comillas, Madrid, Spain

Gerda Reith, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland

Robin Room, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden

Lisa Root, The Niagara Alcohol and Drug Assessment Service, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada

Loreen Rugle, Clinical and Research Services, Trimeridian, Inc., Carmel, Indiana, U.S.A.

Randy Stinchfield, University of Minnesota Medical School, St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.

David Streiner, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

William Thompson, Dept. of Public Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Marianna Toce-Gerstein, NORC at the University of Chicago, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

Lisa Vig, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, U.S.A.

Rachel Volberg, Gemini Research, Ltd., Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Keith Whyte, National Council on Problem Gambling, Washington D.C., U.S.A.

Jamie Wiebe, Responsible Gambling Council (Ontario), Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Harold Wynne, Wynne Resources Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Martin Zack, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Design staff

Graphic designer: Mara Korkola, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

HTML markup & programming: Bernie Monette, InterActive Arts www.iaai.ca, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



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