Human Communication Research.


First round of reviews.

Turnaround rate 70 days (SD = 10)
Review length 711 words (SD = 382)
Review quality 3.2 / 5 (SD = 1.5)
Overall quality 2 / 5 (SD = 1.1)
Would submit again 2.8 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
Journal recommendation 2.2 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
(based on 5 reports including 10 reviews)

Desk rejects.

Turnaround rate n/a
Plausibility n/a

Reviewers & Editors (Initial Submissions)
Length 711 words (SD = 382)
Overall tone Positive (modal)
Knowledge 3.4 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
Helpfulness 3.2 / 5 (SD = 1.5)
Fairness 3.3 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
Overall quality 3.2 / 5 (SD = 1.5)
Length 245 words (SD = 155)
Decision Reject (modal)
Plausibility 2.6 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
Helpfulness 1.3 / 5 (SD = 0.5)
Fairness 2.8 / 5 (SD = 1.5)
Overall quality 2.3 / 5 (SD = 1.6)
Reviewers & Editors (Successive Rounds)
Turnaround rate n/a
(based on 1 report including 2 reviews)

Length n/a
Overall tone Negative (modal)
Knowledge 2 / 5 (SD = 1)
Helpfulness 2 / 5 (SD = 1)
Fairness 2 / 5 (SD = 1)
Consistency 1 / 5 (SD = 0)
Overall quality 2 / 5 (SD = 1)
Length n/a
Decision Reject (modal)
Plausibility 1 / 5 (SD = 0)
Helpfulness 1 / 5 (SD = 0)
Fairness 1 / 5 (SD = 0)
Overall quality 1 / 5 (SD = 0)
  ·  Overall quality rating: 4 / 5  ·  Recommendation: 5 / 5
The reviewers gave very helpful feedback, and it was clear that the editor had assigned the reviews to individuals who were knowledgeable in the subject area. Neither review was abrasive and, in fact, reviewer one was quite encouraging, giving both constructive criticism and positive feedback.

  ·  Overall quality rating: 1 / 5  ·  Recommendation: 1 / 5
I want to note that this took place over the course of 2010-2011, so with an editor who is no longer running the journal. It was perhaps my worst experience with one of the major journals in Comm. The entire process was a year and a half.

Our first round of reviews went okay, but were far beneath the quality I would expect at HCR (especially given we waited so long for them). Reviewer 1 made several flat-out incorrect claims in their letter and demanded changes to the manuscript that would misrepresent the theory we employed. Most comments were critical in a non-constructive manner. The second reviewer was enthusiastic, which is great, but did not offer any useful suggestions for improvements to the manuscript. It's nice to receive brief and positive reviews, but it would have been nice for some constructive feedback. With two reviews that appeared to run the gamut of reject to approve without revision, and the topic being outside of the editor's realm of knowledge/research, understandably the editor opted for an R&R.

We turned the R&R around in six weeks even though Reviewer 1 made extensive demands that required a re-analysis of all of the data and a rewrite of every part of the manuscript. We did not get review back for another seven months. When we checked in after 3 months, the editor claimed Reviewer 2 had gone MIA, but he had found a replacement and promised us a fast turnaround, which did not happen.

Although we met every other demand from Reviewer 1 (no matter how small), we refused to accommodate the incorrect theoretical claims of Reviewer 1. We went the extra mile and contacted the person who originated the theory to ask about the validity of Reviewer 1's claim. (He was suitably appalled by Reviewer 1's lack of understanding and misrepresentation.) Of course, when we defended the theorist and corrected Reviewer 1 in our R&R response, we only succeeded in poking the bear. The first review had been negative, but the second review was negative and unprofessional. It was very snarky and nitpicked at any potential imperfection in the study.

The replacement for Reviewer 2 brought up a whole new set of questions unrelated to either of the previous reviewers and made several suggestions that were essentially what we had done in the first draft before rewriting to Reviewer 1's demands. Rather than acknowledging this, the editor concluded between Reviewer 1's miffed rant and the new revision suggestions for Reviewer 2, this was too much for a second revision and thus rejected the paper after holding it hostage for a year and a half. The editor offered no opinion or justification of his own, rather deferring to the reviews. After discussing my experience with others, I found I was not alone. Several others had very bad experiences with HCR during this time and all had sworn off submitting there until a new editor was in place.

  ·  Overall quality rating: 1 / 5  ·  Recommendation: 1 / 5
HCR is a good ICA journal with a good citation impact. Regardless of the experience (either bad or good), many authors will still submit their manuscripts there. No doubt. The new editor published an editorial in April 2013, which may be useful to authors.

My experience with HCR is not good. It seems HCR has trouble finding good reviewers. The tone of the reviewers was professional and neutral. However, the reviewers were not qualified to review the manuscript and did not understand good/excellent research vs. flawed research. But they still tried to be "rigorous" and hence, they made "over-calls" or "mis-calls" regarding the revision work. That is, the reviews were largely not meaningful and outside the bounds of good reviews.

In the editorial, the editor is imposing his standards, or "bias" using his own words--based on my understanding. I agree with the other post that the current editorial position is curious. I do believe it is important to impose rigorous/high standards for a top-tier journal. But the standards should be based on a good, common understanding of general research principles, but not based on certain narrow understanding of the literature/research, over-calls, or "biases."

  ·  Overall quality rating: 2 / 5  ·  Recommendation: 1 / 5
This journal's current situation is interesting, as in our experience the reviewers were helpful, thorough, encouraging, and mindful of the contributions of the article to the journal's audience. We cannot, however, in good conscience recommend the journal after our experience because the editor appears to override the blind peer review process fairly aggressively. After two overtly favorable reviews, one of which stated an eagerness to see the submission in the journal's pages, the editor noted to us that such favorable feedback was grounds for him to look closely at the paper, after which he rejected it on grounds independent of the reviewers' suggestions. That might be acceptable given that reviewers can miss key issues, but the editor's concerns were almost wholly related to correctable issues in the write-up of the study (e.g., depth of literature review elements, reporting of results) and not issues with the study itself. Given the tenets of blind review, it seems unusual that a favorable blind review at this journal only earns the eye of the editor and an independent editorial decision. Granted, the editor was thorough in his rationale for rejection, but if you submit here be aware that the blind reviews may have a negligible role in the editor's individual decision regarding the manuscript.

  ·  Overall quality rating: 2 / 5  ·  Recommendation: 3 / 5
Our biggest criticism in this review process regards the editor's comments. We received two reviews for this submission. One was rather positive with only some minor remarks and suggestions that would only have slightly changed the manuscript - the other extremely negative with criticism mostly regarding the theoretical foundation of our submission. Neither did the editor explain why the comments of the critical reviewer outweighed the more positive one (leading to a rejection of our manuscript), nor - as would have been the probably "fairest" solution - was a third opinion requested. We were therefore quite disappointed with the decision, in particular because the criticism expressed by the critical reviewer was mostly concerned with theoretical aspects while our manuscript was focused exclusively on methodological issues. The empirical/methodological points that are discussed in our manuscript were hardly mentioned at all in the critical review, and thus, the comments were also not really helpful to us in terms of improving the manuscript for a re-submission to another journal.

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