Einstein's early career is well-known for the lack of success he had applying for assistant lecturer positions with universities; he could not get a position, and he ended up working in a Bern patent office, in large part because his academic record didn't garner attention or respect from those in hiring positions.
Yet in 1905, Einstein's "Annus Mirabilis," he published 4 separate papers in the peer-reviewed Annalen der Physik (Annals of Physics)
- On the photoelectric effect: received March 18 and published June 9
- On Brownian motion: received May 11 and published July 18
- On special relativity: received June 30 and published Sept. 26
- On mass-energy equivalence: received Sept. 27 and published Nov. 21
It shocks me that someone with no active academic credentials or track record was able to publish four times in one year in such a prestigious journal. I have difficulty imagining the same thing happening today. While reviewers are supposed to review the work in and of itself, I'm sure there's some bias towards academic credentials and standing in the field; Einstein's papers were published regardless. Even if the reviewers were blinded to paper author, getting beyond the review to actual publication (four times!) seems a challenge. To me, this publication feat is nearly as impressive as the papers' subject matter.
QUESTION 1A: Has there been any research/writing on the reviewers of these papers, their initial thoughts, and the process that led to publication? I would think Annalen der Physik might still have records of the review process. Apparently, the reviewers looked beyond Einstein's lack of credentials and radical thinking. That's magnificent, yet surprising.
QUESTION 1B: Were the papers so cogent that non-publication was inconceivable? The papers were groundbreaking proposals for the most part (Lorentz and Poincare had done work leading towards special relativity), and the mass-energy equivalence paper had no empirical (atomic bomb) evidence to substantiate it.