Plant Biologists Look to the Sky to Reward Reviewers

A scientific society has landed on a quirky way to reward its reviewers, and the idea has really taken off. Here are a few reviewers’ comments after they learned they would be receiving “Journal JournalMilesMiles” for completing their reviews on time:

  • “Thanks…This is kind of funny!”
  • “That’s a nice idea, thank you!”
  • “I really appreciate it!”

The American Society of Plant Biologists began awarding ASPB Journal Miles™ in 2014, as a way to thank reviewers for their service. The token gesture has been well received, said Patti Lockhart, managing editor of The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology. It was Plant Physiology Editor-in-Chief Michael R. Blatt who came up with the idea, she said. The journals had about 5,000 active reviewers in 2015.

Reviewers receive 10 Journal Miles for each review completed on time. The miles accumulate over a 2-year period and can be redeemed for society merchandise such as luggage tags, T-shirts, and notecards or for membership benefits for the reviewers themselves or their students. The program has its own tagline—Recognizing the Value of True Peer Review—and a website. 

Lockhart spoke about Journal Miles and other ways the ASPB rewards reviewers in a session called “Managing and Rewarding Editorial Boards and Reviewers” at last week’s meeting of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors in Philadelphia.

—Kerry O’Rourke


An audio celebration of the American Medical Writers Association

The American Medical Writers Association celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015. As Editor-in-Chief of the AMWA Journal, I developed a special project to record conversations of AMWA members as they discussed their work as medical writers and editors. The conversations are all available at

Here is how we introduced the series in the AMWA Journal:

As the American Medical Writers Association celebrates its 75th anniversary, the AMWA Journal is celebrating the individuals who together form AMWA. We extended an open invitation to AMWA members to step forward and hold conversations with each other about, well, almost anything, so long as there was a connection to the theme of medical writing and editing careers or to AMWA. We wanted to hear the voices of AMWA.

A lot has changed since 1940, when a group of 6 physicians interested in medical writing came together to form the Mississippi Valley Medical Editors Association, which was renamed in 1948 to broaden the group’s appeal. Today, AMWA has thousands of members. Although AMWA remains a predominantly US-focused organization, with a strong contingent in Canada, 38 countries are represented on our current membership rolls. We still have physician members, of course, but we also have members who trained as pharmacists, nurses, veterinarians, biologists, epidemiologists, journalists, teachers, and many other professions. We are united by a common interest in the communication of medical information and united in furthering our training and understanding of medical communication.

Of course, I particularly enjoyed getting to take part in one of the conversations myself.

—Victoria White

AMWA Voices 12

Beyond the Standard Hello-Goodbye Editorial

Read enough academic journals and you will recognize the standard format of the “I’m the new editor and here are my hopes and dreams for the years to come” editorial. Or you will see the exit editorial: “I am so thankful for the opportunity to have served as your editor all these years, but it is time to pass the baton to my worthy successor.”

Nonetheless, I always want to click on these little essays when I come across them, because they may contain little nuggets of news or insights into the state of academic publishing or the research environment. And, sometimes, they can even surprise, even if you wish they would provide more details:

In a world largely governed by financial concerns, publishing high-quality journals is a tough business, one that is under constant pressure and requires continuous changes. These changes include the views of Editors as well as publishers, and often do not head in the same direction. I think that severe changes are needed for Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry, which will require new ideas adapted to the new information-acquisition behaviour of our customers and readers.

J.F. Roulet’s editorial goes on to bemoan the financial pressures in education, research, and publishing, and asserts a dream “that peer-reviewed journals must remain the instrument to disseminate information that is as close to the truth as is possible in science.”

I don’t know the backstory here, but I wish the publication well and share the dream.

–Victoria White


Every Step We Take, Every Move We Make

If you search PubMed for the words “peer review,” you will get more than 16,000 results. If you search PubMed for the words “managing editor” or “peer review management,” you will get 137 results, as of this writing.

For many of us who work in peer review management for medical journals, the ability to work behind the scenes and not attract attention may be a welcome benefit. Yet we do find ourselves getting our fingerprints all over the peer review and publication process. At Review Without Peer, we recognize that in providing managing editor services, we have opportunities every step of the way for improving the peer review process and the final published product. In fact, that’s what we’re here for.