SURESH CANAGARAJAH: October 2008 Archives

 A few days ago, Rod Ellis sent me an article to be reviewed for his journal Language Teaching Research. Though the names of the authors had been taken off, I knew immediately from the title that the article had been submitted to TQ earlier. The referees had, however, recommended that the article be rejected. Though it is perfectly fine to resubmit the article elsewhere, I was concerned that I won't be impartial in my evaluation. Therefore, I wrote back to Rod to say that I had evaluated this manuscript before. I did tell him that the article was more suitable for the section in his journal "Regional Studies" for which it had been submitted.


However, Rod wrote back and asked: "If the author has decided not to resubmit to you but has received reviews I would really like some evidence that he/she has attempted revisions and not just sent the original article to another journal (LTR).  Would you be able to check if some revisions have been made?"


I see that more and more editors consider this a fair request and not a violation of the editorial protocol. I did check and found that the manuscript hadn't gone through any changes. I informed Rod about this. I don't know how Rod is proceeding on this matter. If it was me, I would inform the authors about this discovery and yet offer them the possibility of a review if they can do the following: send the review comments of the previous journal, show how they took them on board to revise the article, and send a revised version.


Such a case did happen sometime earlier in TQ. When I asked Gabi Kasper to review an article on pragmatics, she said she had considered it for Applied Linguistics, which she was editing at that time. However, taking a look at the article, she found that it had indeed been revised based on the comments of her referees. We considered the article for publication, sent it out for a fresh review, and did publish it after substantial revision. And, yes, Gabi was one of the reviewers.


The moral of the story? Authors should realize that the publishing world is a small world after all. There's a good chance that their resubmitted article will go to the same reviewers in the new round of review. Though it is perfectly appropriate to have the article considered for publication elsewhere once the review of the original journal is complete, you must make sure that you do all the revisions suggested by the previous reviewers. In some of my own submissions, I have even started mentioning in my cover letter the name of the journal to which I had submitted my article before, the suggestions they had made for improvement, how I had changed the manuscript in response to those suggestions, and the reason I was considering a different journal for publication now. That information might in fact help the editors look for a different set of reviewers, if they wanted.