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Peer-Review Record

Telegram Channels and Bots: A Ranking of Media Outlets Based in Spain

Societies 2022, 12(6), 164;
by Victor Herrero-Solana * and Carlos Castro-Castro
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2:
Reviewer 3:
Societies 2022, 12(6), 164;
Submission received: 7 August 2022 / Revised: 10 November 2022 / Accepted: 10 November 2022 / Published: 18 November 2022

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

It is a very well resolved work. The objectives, research questions and methodology are clear and closely related to each other. It is a work that, beyond its results, which are timely and interesting, proposes an interesting line of new research. 

Given that they are strategic in scope, some additional clarification is recommended to the authors in relation to these two paragraphs:

(1) "Based on how the messages of some of the channels appear, some media outlets could even be unaware of the existence of their Telegram channel because their messages have had the same format since day one."

In this case, it is recommended to clarify the idea that some media outlets could even be unaware of the existence of their Telegram channel". How is this possible?

(2) "To make it easier to read, we colored the cells in a gradient from high values in green and low values in red. At this point, we considered ranking alternatives. In no case could the number of posts be used as the sole criterion because this exclusively depends on the channel creator. In this case, "more is not better" but the opposite. Some channels directly "link" the Telegram channel as a feed from the media website-a strategy that does not usually lead to good results."

In this case, it is recommended to clarify the expression "... a strategy that does not usually lead to good results".

A final recommendation, which I leave to the authors' consideration, is whether they could add an "Implications" or "Recomendacioes" section with a list of good practices for Telegram channel managers and the same for Telegram news channel users.

Author Response

"Please see the attachment."

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report


The submitted paper “Telegram channels and bots: a ranking of media outlets based in Spain” has the potential to represent an interesting contribution to social sciences, although his main interest is related to media and communication studies. In general, however, the contribution does not fulfill the minimum requirements of scientific research. In its current form represents a previous or a first glance.


Although the title and abstract and the first Research Question (RQ1) indicate that foreign media companies based in Spain would be analyzed, along the text, there are confusing indications, such as in line 115 when the authors say that “media from Spain” will be studied.


There is a substantial lack of literature review. For example, the role section “2. Telegram and the communication journals” focus on a meta-analysis of other studies on telegram and completely ignores the astonishing amount of literature on news consumption and distribution. Although telegram is important, it is only a platform. Therefore, it must be contextualized with the current discussion in the field. News distribution is crucial and a hot issue in explaining what media outlets do in their search for audience engagement.


Also, a contextual snapshot of the Spanish media system is missed. This must be explored and explained. Which is the current landscape of the media system in Spain? Which is the news consumption rate? How do platforms are changing news consumption? There is considerable literature on it. It must be reviewed. Without it, your discussion section is not sustainable.


There is a considerable problem with the discussion. Without a strong literature review, this section does not sustain, and your study lost its scientific approach and became a statement from your findings. The connection between the literature review and findings must be made. In its current form, there is a significant gap.  


Although descriptive studies (exploratory studies, for example) are important, you should assume them as your goal and methodological approach. Therefore, more than describing the methodological procedures, you should reframe this section and undertake the exploratory study as your objective. Objectives must be re-design. It is not clear the article’s objective. In this sense, research questions should be linked with it, and the literature review and variables should be exposed.  


The study’s scope and limitations should be systematically explained. You should explain why if you cannot confirm results (such as Line 286). When carrying out a quantitative (descriptive study), you should sustain your “observations” on your results based on verified data.        


Finally, the poor discussion and conclusions result from the gaps indicated above. For that reason, we suggest that the authors re-do this paper, despite its interesting theme.

Author Response

"Please see the attachment."

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 3 Report


Your abstract tries to synthesise too many ideas, and some of them do not seem to be properly developed (i.e., in the last sentence, lines 12-3 –“We created a ranking, and the top-10 includes two foreign, 12 six national, and two regional media outlets”–, it is hard to tell what parameters constitute that ranking or what the conditions to be part of that top 10 are, and I find this a bit confusing). Through the text, I also found parts that whose arguments are underdeveloped too; and this goes against clarity. For instance, in lines 59-60 you write “Unsurprisingly, Spain ranks third because this is its place in the general ranking, behind the USA and the UK”: why unsurprisingly? Some further clarification would not harm. On the other hand, graphics like figure 1 on p. 2 favours clarity and makes things easier for the reader. There is also a connection that is well worked on between the end of your state of the art section and your case of study.


The methodology is also well explained and reasonably transparent, especially when it comes to acknowledge the limitations. The amount of media analysed may be a bit short, but the train of thought that explains how you ended up studying what you studied sounds reasonable eventually.


The discussion, though, is a bit short and would benefit from deeper reflections that not only summarise what has been previously built, but also reflect on the basis of those findings to provide further considerations. This can be (partly) caused because the methodological approach focuses excessively on the quantitative approach -which is not necessarily bad, and in fact makes significant contributions; but would definitely benefit from a triangulation with more qualitative approaches to discuss the nature of the contents and sources in the platform studied.  


Your English is rather polished, though there are passages whose syntax could be simplified for the sake of clarity. For instance, in lines 47-48, there are two “turns” within the same sentence: “Although the subject category is extensive, especially in Scopus [3], the scientific production on this subject is not particularly prolific; nevertheless, it is increasing”. Keeping that same idea, a structure with less subordinate sentences could work more easily for the reader: “Although the subject category is extensive, especially in Scopus [3], the scientific production on this subject is not particularly prolific. It is, nevertheless, a field increasingly attracting research interest”. Also, expressions like “Source: the authors” instead of “Source: own elaboration” hint that the text would benefit from a (quick?) proofreading by a native speaker.  



Author Response

"Please see the attachment."

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Round 2

Reviewer 2 Report


Thank you again for the opportunity to re-read and evaluate. Some considerations in the article are not improved. The peer review process is an excellent opportunity to improve. All the comments we made previously had this purpose. Therefore, again, we take this opportunity to clarify some missing points and suggestions:


1.     When we did mention minimum requirements, we explained that in the following points. It is a prominent critic. However, it was followed by constructive suggestions. Therefore, ironic replying is a form to devalue reviewing process. Also, it gets away from academic courtesy. Finally, it is inappropriate.


2.     Fulfil minimum requirements encompass, for example, that you must locate your research in a field, contextualizing it; you must present clear objectives and research questions; in case of an exploratory study, you must justify and design it as what it is; a literature review (and not a bibliometric review) must be done.


3.     You did not take our consideration on the literature review. You don’t need to review news consumption. Of course, it’s not your objective. But you must locate your research in the appropriate field and justify why you are doing it and what you are not doing. To be more precise: your literature review is a bibliometric proposal and not an academic literature review. This compromises the article. We suggested improvements. The current version did not improve it, nor a reasonable argument was present in your response.


4.     Research Questions and Objectives are not the same. Please, be humble.


5.     We suggested that “a contextual snapshot of the Spanish media system is missed.” The authors do not justify not doing it in the new version and do not justify it correctly in their letter.


6.     The improvements in the discussion section are not enough to supply the problems earlier indicated.  

Author Response

Please see the attachment

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

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