Do Political Science Journals Use Publons?
Political science journals have 14.704 peer reviews tracked at Publons, a platform which turns referee reports into quantifiable scholarly activities. While the average political science journal has 87 peer reviews documented on Publons, the most prolific ones are APSR, JCMS, and Publ Adm (with over 1.000 reviews each) followed by JOP, AJPS, EPSR, POP, Reg & Gov, Pol Stud and BJPS (ranging between 350 and 550 reviews). It is noteworthy that not a single political science journal has yet allowed reviews to be publicly displayed.
In their “top 10 things we learned editing Politics” , the parting editors of the journal first and foremost mentioned that “Reviewers are the back-bone of scholarly research. The overwhelming majority of reviewers are conscientious, constructive, and considered in their feedback.” They add, “it is important that editorial teams offer advice on what makes for a good peer review, remove inappropriate reviews from the process, and use functions available through online submission systems to share best practice amongst reviewers.”
What they did not write is that even more useful functions are available through Publons, a platform which systematically turns peer reviews into measurable scholarly activities. Publons also provides automated suggestions for potential referees to editors (fetched through a huge database of almost half a million reviewer profiles), and allows editorial teams to evaluate the quality of reviews they receive.
With their big data-driven acceleration of the review process, Publons could potentially mitigate the perceived “peer review crisis” manifested, inter alia, in the fact that 16% of all political scientists do 50% of reviews , or in the highly uneven geographical distributions of those invited to scrutinize submissions . But let us go beyond the frequently discussed individual reviewer-level problems and look at some journal-level metrics related to Publons.
Political Science and Publons
Not being confined to any specific academic discipline, Publons has so far documented over 2.7 million reviews from 25.000 journals. But how much does Political Science account for it?
For the 169 journals which are categorized as ‘Political Science’ at Web of Science (0.68% of all journals), Publons has so far tracked 14.704 peer reviews (or 0.54% of all reviews at Publons).
American Political Science Review leads the list with 1.366 reviews, followed by Journal of Common Market Studies (1.057 reviews) and Public Administration (1.012). After a large distance comes Journal of Politics (541) on the 4th place, the 5th is American Journal of Political Science (498), 6th is European Political Science Review (426), 7th is Perspectives on Politics (422), 8th is Regulation & Governance (386), 9th is Political Studies (361) and 10th is British Journal of Political Science (353). There are 32 further journals with more than 100 peer reviews at Publons. Less than 10 reviews are documented for 55 journals, of which 22 have zero reviews on Publons.
Note that almost all of the top 10 journals are ‘official partners’ with Publons, meaning that they automatically transfer information on peer reviews to the platform. In total, 35 out of the 169 Political Science journals have established such ‘official partnerships’.
While the mean number of reviews per Political Science journal is 87 (among ‘official partners’, this average number reaches 228), the median number is 26 (among ‘official partners’: 125).
Publons also grants journals the possibility to publicly display peer reviews, something a growing number of scholars and funders would like to see. A comment at Nature pleading for open reviews explains why it may not be desirable that only editors and authors (and partially referees) can see reviewer reports: “That enables several forms of abuse: referees might be superficial, rude or biased; authors might respond inadequately to reasonable criticism; editors might not hold authors or reviewers to account; and predatory publishers will charge fees without providing quality review” . However, not a single Political Science journal has yet made it possible for authors to publicly display their reviews on Publons.
Here is a detailed list (as of 31 August 2018 – note that the mobile version of this blog post omits some columns):
 Coward, Martin and Kyle Grayson. “Top 10 Things we learned editing Politics.” Politics Blog (31 August 2018).
 Saideman, Steve. “Are Potential Peer Reviewers Overwhelmed Altruists or Free-Riders? New data reveal great inequality in peer reviewing in the social sciences.” Duck of Minerva (13 November 2017).
 Gaston, Thomas. “Addressing the Regional Diversity of Reviewers.” The Wiley Network (11 September 2018).
 Polka, Jessica K., Robert Kiley, Boyana Konforti, Bodo Stern & Ronald D. Vale. “Publish peer reviews.” Nature (29 August 2018).