AGN in Bulgeless Galaxies: Paper Accepted
Longtime readers of the Galaxy Zoo blog will be familiar with the peer review process from the many posts here describing it. The time elapsed between a paper’s submission and its acceptance (if it is accepted) can be long or short, and papers from the Zoo have sampled the whole spectrum.
The process with our paper on supermassive black holes growing in bulgeless galaxies took about 4 months: we submitted the paper in July, received comments and suggestions from the anonymous referee in August, then modified the paper based on the referee’s report and re-submitted it in October. This week, the paper was accepted by MNRAS.
The initial report from the referee was extremely thorough and constructive, and incorporating his/her comments helped to significantly improve the paper. The referee pointed out, for example, that although the paper emphasized the lack of significant mergers in the evolutionary histories of the sample, the bulgeless nature of the sample excludes not just mergers but any violent evolutionary process that can disrupt a disk to the point where it transfers a significant fraction of its stars from a disk into a bulge or pseudobulge. That was certainly a fair point, so we changed our discussion to include further consideration of the implications of those evolutionary processes being excluded.
And we made some other changes, too, including expanded discussion of why our results differ from some other studies and additional description of how we might be affected by dust in these galaxies (and why we think we aren’t). There were also some very interesting questions that we couldn’t really answer within the scope of this paper, but that we had asked ourselves too and that have already formed the basis for additional projects now underway. Overall, this was a classic example of what the peer review process was meant to be.
The accepted version of the paper will soon be available on the arXiv for anyone to download. In the spirit of openness, I had hoped to include the referee’s report and our response in the additional materials on the arXiv, but the referee did not give permission to do so. That’s fine — it’s anonymous and it’s perfectly acceptable if the referee prefers the exact contents of the report to be private as well. Hopefully he/she approves of my summary!
Note: as soon as it’s published, the paper will also be added to the Zooniverse Publications page, which coincidentally happens to have been released today as the first day of the Zooniverse Advent calendar. Have a look — Galaxy Zoo’s contributions are impressive and we’re joined by many, many others.