Interview with PeerJ Editor Justin W. L. Keogh

This week we interviewed Editor Justin W. L. Keogh. He is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University in Queensland, Australia. We caught up with him via email and asked him about his background, his experience as a PeerJ editor, and his thoughts on Open Access publishing.

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PJ: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what brought you into your research?

JK: My name is Justin Keogh and I am an exercise and sports scientist, with biomechanics and motor control and learning as my key teaching and learning areas of expertise. I have worked in a number of different areas including personal training, strength and conditioning and pre-school motor development before enrolling in my PhD and becoming an exercise and sports science academic.

Currently my research focuses on the role of the neuromuscular system in the production of muscular force and power and how this may influence functional performance in athletic and older clinical populations. My older adult research is currently focused on sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function) in aged care residents (or those at risk of aged care entry) and cancer patients/survivors.

PJ: What do you see as wrong with the current system of publication?

JK: In general, I feel that the current system of publication including the peer-review process has many positive aspects to it. In saying that, there are also a number of ways that I think we can improve this current system. Newer journals like PeerJ are therefore like a breath of fresh air challenging some of the issues in the current system. I especially like the option whereby the reviewers and authors can make publicly available the reviews on the paper. I feel this process promotes greater confidence in the published research and also provides emerging researchers the opportunity to gain more experience in the peer review process. I also am a big believer in the open access model of PeerJ.

PJ: Given your experience, what would an ideal publishing venue look like?

JK: Something like PeerJ, whereby the submission process is simple, the article processing charges fair, the reviews fast and constructive and the articles and a description of the review process freely available to anyone.

PJ: What are your thoughts about the value of Open Access publishing?

JK: Open access publishing is obviously growing in popularity and I am very enthusiastic about the benefits of this. The primary benefit I see is that anyone on the planet can freely access research papers without any exorbitant costs that traditional publishers will charge. I sometimes feel that we scientists and our universities/research centres have forgotten the reasons why we became interested in science and research, namely to provide new insights into unanswered questions that will improve our understanding of the world and/or our health and quality of life. However, the publication models that we must adhere to if we wish to get tenure and promotion often require us to publish in journals for which the public are unable to access without paying quite prohibitive costs.

I’m also aware of the issues with open access publishing in terms of the massive increase in the number of predatory journals and publishers. I therefore am always very happy to see new open access journals that are ethical, credible and obtain impact factors in short periods of time. PeerJ is a shining example of one such journal.

PJ: What excited you about PeerJ that persuaded you to become an AE?

JK: Many factors influenced my decision in becoming an AE for PeerJ. All of my previous experiences as an author or reviewer have been very positive. For example, as an author I’ve been very impressed with the fast initial review times (averaging around 3 to 4 weeks) and quality of feedback provided by the reviewers and editors. The multidisciplinary nature of PeerJ also appeals to me in that I may come across other articles that I am interested in reading (such as dinosaur biomechanics or a variety of physics disciplines), but that I would never come across if I had to access one their specific journals.

PJ: How do you go about evaluating a paper at PeerJ

JK: The categories provided by the PeerJ review platform make it quite simple to provide some general comments on each of the primary aspects of the paper. The ability to then add additional specific comments around any aspect of the paper requiring revision is also quite straightforward. The online review platform is also quite simple to use.

PJ: How many hours a week would you say that you devote to PeerJ, and how does it fit into your schedule?

JK: As a new editor, I’m not sure if I am experienced enough with PeerJ to answer this question. However, it appears that a number of potential editorial opportunities appear every week. While this may initially appear daunting, the number of potential editorial opportunities is spread across many associate editors of the three categories I am comfortable in being an associate editor, these being kinesiology, geriatrics and oncology.

PJ: You have published twice with us already, why was it important to you to publish it at PeerJ, and how was your experience?

JK: There are obviously many journals to which we can submit our manuscripts. I feel that PeerJ is a worthy destination for my group’s research for a variety of reasons, a few of which I have previously mentioned. These include the complete open access nature of the journal, the security of these articles for the future and the low article processing fees. My experience with PeerJ as a reviewer, author and now associate editor has been very positive. I therefore would recommend PeerJ as a destination for many scientists’ research findings.

PJ: Which aspects of the PeerJ functionality do you find the most useful or interesting?

JK: I am happy with many aspects of PeerJ’s functionality. Perhaps most important is the relative simplicity of the processes for journal submissions as well as for reviewers and editors.

PJ: In your opinion, why should researchers submit to PeerJ?

JK: I feel that PeerJ is near the top of the journal list for many of my research group’s submissions. In my experience, very few other journals have the same degree of speed, transparency and fairness associated with the peer-review process. On this basis, PeerJ is definitely worth considering for your next submission.

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