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We refer to "evaluation" because The Unjournal does not publish work; it only links, rates, and evaluates it.
- We follow standard procedures, considering complementary expertise, interest, and cross-citations, as well as confirming lack of conflict-of-interest. (See our internal guidelines for choosing evaluators.)
- We will favor evaluators with a track record of careful, in-depth, and insightful evaluation—while giving ECRs a chance to build such a record.
- It's equitable, especially for those not getting "service credit" for their refereeing work from their employer.
- While researchers currently write reports for prominent traditional journals for free, perhaps in exchange for goodwill when they submit their own work or a desire to impress prominent editors...
- 1.we need to use explicit incentives as The Unjournal grows.
- 2.paying evaluators can reduce adverse selection and conflicts of interest—arguably inherent to the traditional process.
- We can use payment as an incentive for high-quality work.
- We can use payments to access a wider range of expertise, including people not interested in submitting their own work to The Unjournal.
Yes, we allow evaluators to choose whether they wish to remain anonymous or "sign" their evaluations.
In the typical journal process, reviewers may make mistakes in reports, and these may typically be mitigated by multiple reviewers and editor mediation. Furthermore, in standard journals, reviews are typically not made public. As an Unjournal evaluator, you might be concerned about having an error or poor judgment enter the public record. How worried should you be, and what can be done to limit this concern?
- 1.You can choose to make your evaluation anonymous. You can make this decision from the outset (this is preferable) or later, after you've completed your review. This is your choice.
- 2.Your evaluation will be shared with the authors before it is posted, and they will be given two weeks to respond before we post. If they cite what they believe are any major misstatements in your evaluation, we will give you the chance to correct these.
- 3.It is well-known that referee reports and evaluations are subject to mistakes. We expect most people who read your evaluation will take this into account.
- 4.You can add an addendum or revision to your evaluation later on (see below).
We will put your evaluation on PubPub and give it a DOI. It cannot be redacted in the sense that this initial version will remain on the internet in some format. But you can certainly add an addendum to the document later, which we will post and link, and the DOI can be adjusted to point to the revised version.
We currently (May 2023) have two ways that papers and research projects enter the Unjournal process:
- 1.Authors submit their work (perhaps after our reaching out to them); if we believe the work is relevant, we assign evaluators, and so on. We can also agree with authors to "embargo" evaluations until a later date, under certain conditions. In this case, evaluators are informed of your request.
- 2.Alternatively, we select a set of working papers released in the prominent NBER series for evaluation (see note); where these papers seem particularly influential, potentially impactful, and relevant for evaluation. For these, we contact the authors before sending out the papers for evaluation and request the authors' engagement, but we don't ask for permission.
For either track, authors are invited to be involved in several ways:
- Authors are informed of the process and given an opportunity to identify particular concerns, request an embargo, etc.
- Evaluators can be put in touch with authors (anonymously) for clarification questions.
- Authors are given a two-week window to respond to the evaluations (this response is published as well) before the evaluations are made public. They can also respond on our platform after the evaluations are released.
If you are writing a signed (not anonymous) evaluation, you can share it or link it on your own pages. Please wait to do this until after we have given the author a chance to respond and posted the package. (Note that as of May 2023, we put the evaluation up on our PubPub with a DOI and try to get it out to scholarly search engines and bibliometric databases.)
Otherwise, if you are remaining anonymous. please do not disclose your connection to this report.
- We may later invite you to write and evaluate more about this piece of research . . .
- As a general principle, we hope and intend always to see that you are fairly compensated for your time and effort.
- 1.For readers and users: Unjournal evaluations assess the reliability and usefulness of the paper along several dimensions—and make this public, so other researchers and policymakers can learn from this intellectual process and apply this learning in their practice and decisionmaking.
- 2.For careers and improving research: Evaluations provide metrics of quality. In the medium term, these should provide increased and accelerated career value, improving the research process. We aim to build metrics that are credibly comparable to the current "tier" of journal a paper is published in. But we aim to do this better in several ways:
- 3.Feedback and suggestions for authors: We expect that evaluators will provide feedback that is relevant to the authors, to help them make the paper better.
Given the above considerations, and considering that we want to encourage authors to see value in engaging with The Unjournal, we encourage evaluators to prioritize the three components roughly equally:
- Making the evaluations and ratings useful for readers and users
- Making them meaningful for assessing academics
- Communicating useful feedback and suggestions to researchers
- Potentially: hosted/mirrored on our own dedicated web page
- Ideally: We will present the "ratings data" in clear, comparable formats, as well as providing the raw data for meta-analysts and others (this is partially available in the PubPub content, and we are working on making this more systematic).
- E.g., "Selection": Traditionally, reviewers may be more likely to accept an assignment when they have a particular interest in the paper under consideration.
- E.g., for wider audiences, such as on Wikipedia, the EA Forum, or Asterisk magazine, with potential further compensation.
- 22 Dec 2022: We are still developing and improving this system.