In this Interview with an Author, Dr. Emma Schachner, the corresponding author on "Pulmonary anatomy in the Nile crocodile and the evolution of unidirectional airflow in Archosauria", an article which has attracted quite a bit of interest in the paleontology community, culminating most recently with a spirited discussion in the comments thread of this article (discussing the benefits of the Open Peer Review that the article highlighted). Dr. Schachner is a Postodoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Utah, in the Farmer Lab (which, incidentally, has a particularly beautiful lab website!).
PJ: How did you first hear about PeerJ, and what were your initial impressions (i.e. before you submitted)?
ES: I had not heard of PeerJ before the journal was suggested as a possible place to submit our manuscript. I was wary at first because it is brand new, but once I heard that we could publish our reviews online I became very excited.
PJ: What persuaded you to submit to us?
ES: The idea to submit to PeerJ was suggested by one of my coauthors, John Hutchinson, who is also a PeerJ editor.
PJ: With this research, why did you choose to publish in PeerJ rather than some other venue?
ES: Once I was made aware of the transparent peer review process, along with the fact that the journal is both open access and very inexpensive to publish in, I was completely sold. Also our manuscript has a lot of colorful images, which can get very expensive in other journals.
PJ: What was your experience of the review process?
ES: The review process was fantastic. It was transparent and fast. The open review system allowed for direct communication between the authors and reviewers, generating a more refined final manuscript. I think that having open reviews is a great first step towards fixing the peer review system.
PJ: And what was your experience of the production process?
ES: The production process was very smooth and efficient. I was surprised by how quickly our manuscript flew through all the steps leading up to publication. There were no complicated figure uploads for large files, painful figure caption edits or anything like that. I appreciated the direct contact with a staff member of PeerJ versus a complicated digital interface.
PJ: What did you think to the overall speed of the process?
ES: As a postdoc, my experience with other journals is not as extensive as a senior researcher; however PeerJ was by far the fastest journal that I have interacted with. Particularly in the post-processing of the manuscript.
PJ: What did you think of the appearance of the PDF of the published article?
I very much like the blue color scheme. It helps to visually break up the paper into sections and make the figure captions stand out more. Personally I prefer the double columns because long and narrow figures can fit in nicely side by side with the text. The single column layout leaves a lot of unused space in the document.
PJ: And what do you think to the HTML view of your article?
ES: I love the HTML view. The ‘metrics data’ are a great way to monitor the status of your paper across multiple social networks. I like being able to track the number of page views. The rich hyperlinking is probably the best aspect of the HTML view. This feature alone makes the paper more accessible to other researchers than the traditional print article.
PJ: Was there anything that surprised you with your overall experience?
ES: Yes, three things:
PJ: Did any of your colleagues express anything to you about your publication with PeerJ?
ES: Yes. A few of my colleagues were concerned that because the journal was new, it might not be the best place for a young researcher to publish.
PJ: Now that you have been through the process, what is the advantage for an author to publish their work a) Open Access and b) with PeerJ
ES: a) Open Access is great. I really hope that science continues in this direction. It would be better for everyone, as more people will have access to publications, and academic institutions will not have to pay the exorbitant fees for access to the journal. b) PeerJ is unique in its transparent review process and published manuscript history. I absolutely love this.
PJ: Would you submit again, and would you recommend that your colleagues submit?
ES: Definitely, and I already have recommended PeerJ to my colleagues.
PJ: Many thanks for your time!