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      How Long Is Too Long in Contemporary Peer Review? Perspectives from Authors Publishing in Conservation Biology Journals


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          Delays in peer reviewed publication may have consequences for both assessment of scientific prowess in academics as well as communication of important information to the knowledge receptor community. We present an analysis on the perspectives of authors publishing in conservation biology journals regarding their opinions on the importance of speed in peer-review as well as how to improve review times. Authors were invited to take part in an online questionnaire, of which the data was subjected to both qualitative (open coding, categorizing) and quantitative analyses (generalized linear models). We received 637 responses to a total of 6,547 e-mail invitations sent. Peer-review speed was generally perceived as slow, with authors experiencing a typical turnaround time of 14 weeks while their perceived optimal review time is six weeks. Male and younger respondents seem to have higher expectations of review speed than females and older respondents. Majority of participants attributed lengthy review times to the ‘stress’ on the peer-review system (i.e., reviewer and editor fatigue), while editor persistence and journal prestige were believed to speed up the review process. Negative consequences of lengthy review times appear to be greater for early career researchers and can also have impact on author morale (e.g. motivation or frustration). Competition among colleagues were also of concern to respondents. Incentivizing peer review was among the top suggested alterations to the system along with training graduate students in peer review, increased editorial persistence, and changes to the norms of peer-review such as opening the peer-review process to the public. It is clear that authors surveyed in this study view the peer-review system as under stress and we encourage scientists and publishers to push the envelope for new peer review models.

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          The need for evidence-based conservation.

          Much of current conservation practice is based upon anecdote and myth rather than upon the systematic appraisal of the evidence, including experience of others who have tackled the same problem. We suggest that this is a major problem for conservationists and requires a rethinking of the manner in which conservation operates. There is an urgent need for mechanisms that review available information and make recommendations to practitioners. We suggest a format for web-based databases that could provide the required information in accessible form.
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            Evolution and behavioural responses to human-induced rapid environmental change

            Almost all organisms live in environments that have been altered, to some degree, by human activities. Because behaviour mediates interactions between an individual and its environment, the ability of organisms to behave appropriately under these new conditions is crucial for determining their immediate success or failure in these modified environments. While hundreds of species are suffering dramatically from these environmental changes, others, such as urbanized and pest species, are doing better than ever. Our goal is to provide insights into explaining such variation. We first summarize the responses of some species to novel situations, including novel risks and resources, habitat loss/fragmentation, pollutants and climate change. Using a sensory ecology approach, we present a mechanistic framework for predicting variation in behavioural responses to environmental change, drawing from models of decision-making processes and an understanding of the selective background against which they evolved. Where immediate behavioural responses are inadequate, learning or evolutionary adaptation may prove useful, although these mechanisms are also constrained by evolutionary history. Although predicting the responses of species to environmental change is difficult, we highlight the need for a better understanding of the role of evolutionary history in shaping individuals’ responses to their environment and provide suggestion for future work.
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              Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals.


                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                12 August 2015
                : 10
                : 8
                : e0132557
                [1 ]Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]MISTRA EviEM, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
                [3 ]Rosenstiel School of Marline and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL, United States of America
                [4 ]Beneath the Waves, Inc., Syracuse, NY, United States of America
                [5 ]Institute of Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, GERMANY
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: SJC NH AJG MRD NRH ADMW VMN. Performed the experiments: VMN LFGG NRH. Analyzed the data: VMN LFGG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: VMN LFGG SJC. Wrote the paper: VMN NRH LFGG ADMW AJG MRD NH SJC.

                Copyright @ 2015

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                : 1 March 2015
                : 16 June 2015
                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Pages: 20
                This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, 315918-166, http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/index_eng.asp and the Canada Research Chair, 320517-166, http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
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                Data are available in the paper and supporting information files.



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