Saturday, 7 August 2010

Samos, Tenerife, Cognition...

Since last posting, my feet barely touched the ground. I returned from Germany, having enjoyed a personal chauffeur service in a rather nice BMW Z4 (or some such.. what would I know? It had just two seats, no roof, a BMW badge, and most importantly of all, a driver familiar with the accelerator and break pedals; he may even have used the clutch, but I have no evidence of that...), and flew two days later to holiday in Samos with Silvia, where we were the guests of the Honorary (German) Consul. I now regret the German failure to secure the World Cup, as I can attest to the generosity and humor of their Consul on Samos. Oh... I forget. He’s not German. Oh well... I take that back - I have no regrets whatsoever that the Germans failed to secure a World Cup win. Viva España!

Got back from Samos a week later, and flew two days later to Tenerife for a family holiday. Villa, pool, volcano, whales, dolphins, beer... all essential ingredients to a successful holiday. The cetaceans were wild, seen and photographed during a boat trip. The beer was almost as wild.

Now... anyone familiar with my journal duties will no doubt feel aggrieved at what appears to have been way too much time away from the journal’s coalface. So here are the facts lest anyone complain: This year I have processed on average 16 manuscripts each week (split roughly equally between dealing with new submissions and with revisions - so this means accepting or rejecting manuscripts, recommending revisions, or sending out to review). In the past three weeks, during my vacation ... vacation ... I averaged 19 manuscripts in each of those three weeks. I also revised a manuscript of my own (and a student’s) for resubmission to Psych Science, read and commented on a student’s thesis chapter, and learned I had been awarded £600K by one of the UK research councils for another three years’ research in my lab. Needless to say, I write this because of some bizarre sense of guilt at having been away from my desk for so long. But despite the work that I somehow managed in these last three weeks, I do feel rested and relaxed, and even a little tanned. And hey - I have another three days before I fly to the Cognitive Science conference in Oregon...

Other journal statistics that may be of interest - as of today, I have this year triaged (rejected without sending to review) 45% of the new submissions that I have handled. But with an acceptance rate of 20%, that actually means that any author who gets past the triage stage has a roughly one-in-three chance of eventually being accepted into the journal. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not.

On a more practical note: We receive more submissions during the summer months than at any other time, and because I have two fewer associate editors working with me than I should have (Elsevier gave us the money for two more, in view of the increased submission rate), I have inevitably been unable to keep up with the flow of submissions - we all (the other associate editors included) are working as hard as we can. But it is not enough, and this means that it can take a few weeks from when a manuscript enters one of the queues (as a new submission, or as requiring a decision) to when it can be dealt with. Fortunately, most authors are either very patient, or are themselves on vacation and have not noticed. A minority, like me, will be working so hard that they barely have time to notice anything at all. To them, I offer this advice: MORE BEER.