Not so long ago, I wrote about some of the issues associated with peer reviewing of research grant proposals. This morning, I received editorial comments on one of my recently submitted papers – four sets of comments were broadly supportive, usefully recommending changes that would improve the paper. However, a fifth referee clearly had not understood the purpose of the paper, which was a largely qualitative analysis of ICTs and disability in Ghana. This is what the referee wrote:
“The paper lacks a profound research method & data analysis techniques.
In order to improve the paper I suggest:
-You develop taxonomy of the various possible factors (drivers, benefits, barriers, pitfalls) related to:
ICT & Special Education Needs in Developing Country Settings.
-Make a thorough field study grounded by previously derived taxonomy
-Use statistical analysis to determine the correlations between the taxonomies & derive the hypothesis for the study. Or use grounded theory analysis if you are interested more in the phenomenon rather than the correlations.
For the time being the paper findings are scattered and cannot be granted as validated or evenaccurate or complete.
Therefore the paper is not ready yet for publishing”.
OK – at one level, I accept that there are indeed different approaches to intellectual enquiry, but it seems quite clear that this referee fails to see the value of qualitative approaches, and is seeking to impose one particular view of the research process.
At least the other referees found something that they liked in the paper:
- “This article addresses a particularly important issue very well. The authors understand the problem deeply and support their case with relevant evidence and clear writing.”
- “This manuscript addresses an important and inadequately addressed topic. Data presented is valuable in informing programs and policy needs related to ICT for people with disabilities in educational settings in Ghana and other low-resource communities.”
I am tempted entirely to give up sending papers to academic journals – let’s face it, few people read them anyway – and instead simply put out material on the Internet and see what readers themselves make of them!
At the very least, I will try in future to submit papers to journals where I have greater faith in the quality of the refereeing process!
Following correspondence with the journal’s Editor in Chief, I am delighted to say that my co-author and I are resubmitting our paper, and will include with this a commentary of exactly what we think of the referee’s comments above. Let’s see what happens!