Interview with Authors – Sliwinski and Sigmon​

Today’s ‘Interview with an Author’ is a Two for One. We spoke with Elisha Sigmon and Michelle Sliwinski, the authors of the recent PeerJ article “Why do leaf-tying caterpillars abandon their leaf ties?”. We were very interested in hearing about their experience with us.

PJ: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?


ES: I recently finished my dissertation at George Washington University studying the behavior and community ecology of leaf-tying caterpillars. My research interests include community ecology, animal behavior, plant-insect interactions, and landscape ecology.


MS: I graduated in May from the George Washington University and a large part of this paper was adapted from my Senior Honors Thesis in Biology. My research interests are community ecology and conservation. I am currently studying environmental law the George Washington University Law School.

PJ: Can you tell us about leaf-tying caterpillars and the research you published with us?


ES: Leaf-tying caterpillars build shelters between overlapping leaves that are secondarily colonized by a variety or arthropods. I have found that caterpillars will physically compete over shelters, but we don’t know how often this may occur. Michelle and I developed multiple experiments to investigate why caterpillars move between shelters and the costs associated with being without a shelter. Michelle performed these experiments for her undergraduate honors thesis project under my advisement. We found that leaf-tying caterpillars frequently abandon their ties due to limited food resources and interactions with other caterpillars, but this is a very risky behavior.

PJ: Why did you choose to submit this research to PeerJ?

ES: We choose to publish with PeerJ mainly due to the low cost and rapid publication timeline. Since we are both students, the high cost of some journals can be very prohibitive. Also, we have both recently finished school and are moving on to new things so the rapid publication allowed me to walk Michelle through her first publication process in our last few months together.

PJ: How did you first hear about PeerJ?

ES: I reviewed an article for PeerJ and was very impressed with the speed of the process and the professionalism and great communication from PeerJ’s staff.

PJ: What was your experience of the PeerJ submission process?

ES: The submission process was very simple and straightforward without wasting a ton of time fitting into a precise format. I also really appreciated all of the communication I received from the very friendly editorial staff. I was ensured that the editor was working on my submission and that my paper wasn’t just sitting in a stack being ignored for months as frequently happens during the review process.

PJ: PeerJ encourages Authors to make their review comments visible. Why did you choose to reproduce the complete peer-review history of your article?

MS & ES: As a student and young researcher it is very helpful to see reviews to learn about the publication process. It also adds a level of transparency and can assist other researchers performing similar experiments.

PJ: What do you think to the overall speed of the process?

ES: This was the fastest publication process I have ever experienced or even heard of.

PJ: What do you think of the HTML view of your published article and the appearance of the PDF?

MS: The HTML view is very user-friendly in that readers can easily jump to different sections of the paper. It also has the advantage of hyper-linked sources, so readers can click on a parenthetical citation or endnote and be directed to the source material. 

PJ: What do you think about our “Pay once, Publish for life” Membership?

MS & ES: This is a great publication model. It keeps costs down for authors and is an extra incentive to keep publishing with PeerJ. Students are often dissuaded from pursuing publication due to prohibitively high costs, but the PeerJ membership offers researchers an affordable option. 

PJ: Did you get any comments from your colleagues about your publication with PeerJ?

MS & ES: A lot of our colleagues hadn’t heard of PeerJ or only vaguely recognized it so we’ve been telling everyone how easy and fast the publication is. We recommend this journal to everyone we know.

PJ: In conclusion, how would you describe PeerJ in three words?

MS & ES: Fast, friendly, quality

PJ: Many thanks for your time!

PeerJ is currently getting first decisions back to authors with a median time of 24 days, and we have hundreds of highly satisfied authors. If you would like to experience the PeerJ process for yourself, then submit your next article to us!

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