Two posts ago, I wondered about how long the average peer-review of a journal article takes to write. Most people I know reported “a few hours” as the average time, with the upper end of the range being a day or two. I emailed several journals — mostly ones that I’ve reviewed papers for or published in during the past year — asking whether they’ve collected data on how much time reviewers spend reviewing. Of eight journals, three replied. Of these, only one had actual data!
The Optical Society of America (which publishes Optics Express and other journals) very nicely wrote:
… there was a survey taken in 2010 of 800 responses from OSA authors. We have the following numbers that varied across the board:
2-5 hours at 37%
6-10 hours at 29%
11+ hours at 22%
I don’t know why the numbers don’t add up to 100%. Perhaps 12% were <2 hours? If so, the median time would be about 5 or 6 hours.
It would have been nice to get more data on this but perhaps, as a colleague of mine cynically noted, journals don’t want to know how much free labor they’re asking people to provide! (I don’t think this is really the case.)
Now I should get back to the review I’m presently working on — I’m at 3 hours so far, and I feel compelled to re-plot the authors’ data to clarify various issues… (They nicely provide it in table form, and I’m fond of making graphs…)
(Today’s illustration: ‘the external view of the left fore leg of the horse,’ which I sketched from a sketch in “Animal Painting and Anatomy” by W. Frank Calderon — an odd book, which apparently defines “Animal” as “horse, dog, cow, or sometimes lion.”)