Peer Review in Scientific Publications: Benefits, Critiques, & A Survival Guide EJIFCC.2014 Oct; 25(3): 227–243. Published online 2014 Oct 24. PMCID: PMC4975196 1 Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Pediatric Laboratory Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Find articles by 1 Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Pediatric Laboratory Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Find articles by
- 1 Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Pediatric Laboratory Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 2 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
- 3 Chair, Communications and Publications Division (CPD), International Federation for Sick Clinical Chemistry (IFCC), Milan, Italy
Find articles by
- 1 Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Pediatric Laboratory Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 2 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
- 3 Chair, Communications and Publications Division (CPD), International Federation for Sick Clinical Chemistry (IFCC), Milan, Italy
- Corresponding author.
Clinical Biochemistry The Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario Canada, M5G 1X8 Disclosure The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding publication of this article. © 2014 International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC).
- All rights reserved.
- This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License () which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
- Peer review has been defined as a process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.
It functions to encourage authors to meet the accepted high standards of their discipline and to control the dissemination of research data to ensure that unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations or personal views are not published without prior expert review.
- Despite its wide-spread use by most journals, the peer review process has also been widely criticised due to the slowness of the process to publish new findings and due to perceived bias by the editors and/or reviewers.
- Within the scientific community, peer review has become an essential component of the academic writing process.
It helps ensure that papers published in scientific journals answer meaningful research questions and draw accurate conclusions based on professionally executed experimentation. Submission of low quality manuscripts has become increasingly prevalent, and peer review acts as a filter to prevent this work from reaching the scientific community.
The major advantage of a peer review process is that peer-reviewed articles provide a trusted form of scientific communication. Since scientific knowledge is cumulative and builds on itself, this trust is particularly important. Despite the positive impacts of peer review, critics argue that the peer review process stifles innovation in experimentation, and acts as a poor screen against plagiarism.
Despite its downfalls, there has not yet been a foolproof system developed to take the place of peer review, however, researchers have been looking into electronic means of improving the peer review process. Unfortunately, the recent explosion in online only/electronic journals has led to mass publication of a large number of scientific articles with little or no peer review.
This poses significant risk to advances in scientific knowledge and its future potential. The current article summarizes the peer review process, highlights the pros and cons associated with different types of peer review, and describes new methods for improving peer review. Key words: peer review, manuscript, publication, journal, open access Peer Review is defined as “a process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field” ().
Peer review is intended to serve two primary purposes. Firstly, it acts as a filter to ensure that only high quality research is published, especially in reputable journals, by determining the validity, significance and originality of the study. Secondly, peer review is intended to improve the quality of manuscripts that are deemed suitable for publication.
Peer reviewers provide suggestions to authors on how to improve the quality of their manuscripts, and also identify any errors that need correcting before publication. The concept of peer review was developed long before the scholarly journal. In fact, the peer review process is thought to have been used as a method of evaluating written work since ancient Greece ().
The peer review process was first described by a physician named Ishaq bin Ali al-Rahwi of Syria, who lived from 854-931 CE, in his book Ethics of the Physician (). There, he stated that physicians must take notes describing the state of their patients’ medical conditions upon each visit.
Following treatment, the notes were scrutinized by a local medical council to determine whether the physician had met the required standards of medical care. If the medical council deemed that the appropriate standards were not met, the physician in question could receive a lawsuit from the maltreated patient ().
The invention of the printing press in 1453 allowed written documents to be distributed to the general public (). At this time, it became more important to regulate the quality of the written material that became publicly available, and editing by peers increased in prevalence.
- In 1620, Francis Bacon wrote the work Novum Organum, where he described what eventually became known as the first universal method for generating and assessing new science ().
- His work was instrumental in shaping the Scientific Method ().
- In 1665, the French Journal des sçavans and the English Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society were the first scientific journals to systematically publish research results ().
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society is thought to be the first journal to formalize the peer review process in 1665 (), however, it is important to note that peer review was initially introduced to help editors decide which manuscripts to publish in their journals, and at that time it did not serve to ensure the validity of the research ().
- It did not take long for the peer review process to evolve, and shortly thereafter papers were distributed to reviewers with the intent of authenticating the integrity of the research study before publication.
- The Royal Society of Edinburgh adhered to the following peer review process, published in their Medical Essays and Observations in 1731: “Memoirs sent by correspondence are distributed according to the subject matter to those members who are most versed in these matters.
The report of their identity is not known to the author.” (). The Royal Society of London adopted this review procedure in 1752 and developed the “Committee on Papers” to review manuscripts before they were published in Philosophical Transactions (). Peer review in the systematized and institutionalized form has developed immensely since the Second World War, at least partly due to the large increase in scientific research during this period ().
- It is now used not only to ensure that a scientific manuscript is experimentally and ethically sound, but also to determine which papers sufficiently meet the journal’s standards of quality and originality before publication.
- Peer review is now standard practice by most credible scientific journals, and is an essential part of determining the credibility and quality of work submitted.
Peer review has become the foundation of the scholarly publication system because it effectively subjects an author’s work to the scrutiny of other experts in the field. Thus, it encourages authors to strive to produce high quality research that will advance the field.
Peer review also supports and maintains integrity and authenticity in the advancement of science. A scientific hypothesis or statement is generally not accepted by the academic community unless it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal (). The Institute for Scientific Information ( ISI ) only considers journals that are peer-reviewed as candidates to receive Impact Factors.
Peer review is a well-established process which has been a formal part of scientific communication for over 300 years. The peer review process begins when a scientist completes a research study and writes a manuscript that describes the purpose, experimental design, results, and conclusions of the study.
The scientist then submits this paper to a suitable journal that specializes in a relevant research field, a step referred to as pre-submission. The editors of the journal will review the paper to ensure that the subject matter is in line with that of the journal, and that it fits with the editorial platform.
Very few papers pass this initial evaluation. If the journal editors feel the paper sufficiently meets these requirements and is written by a credible source, they will send the paper to accomplished researchers in the field for a formal peer review. Peer reviewers are also known as referees (this process is summarized in ).
- The role of the editor is to select the most appropriate manuscripts for the journal, and to implement and monitor the peer review process.
- Editors must ensure that peer reviews are conducted fairly, and in an effective and timely manner.
- They must also ensure that there are no conflicts of interest involved in the peer review process.
Overview of the review process When a reviewer is provided with a paper, he or she reads it carefully and scrutinizes it to evaluate the validity of the science, the quality of the experimental design, and the appropriateness of the methods used. The reviewer also assesses the significance of the research, and judges whether the work will contribute to advancement in the field by evaluating the importance of the findings, and determining the originality of the research.
- Additionally, reviewers identify any scientific errors and references that are missing or incorrect.
- Peer reviewers give recommendations to the editor regarding whether the paper should be accepted, rejected, or improved before publication in the journal.
- The editor will mediate author-referee discussion in order to clarify the priority of certain referee requests, suggest areas that can be strengthened, and overrule reviewer recommendations that are beyond the study’s scope ().
If the paper is accepted, as per suggestion by the peer reviewer, the paper goes into the production stage, where it is tweaked and formatted by the editors, and finally published in the scientific journal. An overview of the review process is presented in,
Peer reviews are conducted by scientific experts with specialized knowledge on the content of the manuscript, as well as by scientists with a more general knowledge base. Peer reviewers can be anyone who has competence and expertise in the subject areas that the journal covers. Reviewers can range from young and up-and-coming researchers to old masters in the field.
Often, the young reviewers are the most responsive and deliver the best quality reviews, though this is not always the case. On average, a reviewer will conduct approximately eight reviews per year, according to a study on peer review by the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC) ().
- Journals will often have a pool of reviewers with diverse backgrounds to allow for many different perspectives.
- They will also keep a rather large reviewer bank, so that reviewers do not get burnt out, overwhelmed or time constrained from reviewing multiple articles simultaneously.
- Referees are typically not paid to conduct peer reviews and the process takes considerable effort, so the question is raised as to what incentive referees have to review at all.
Some feel an academic duty to perform reviews, and are of the mentality that if their peers are expected to review their papers, then they should review the work of their peers as well. Reviewers may also have personal contacts with editors, and may want to assist as much as possible.
- Others review to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their field, and reading new scientific papers is an effective way to do so.
- Some scientists use peer review as an opportunity to advance their own research as it stimulates new ideas and allows them to read about new experimental techniques.
Other reviewers are keen on building associations with prestigious journals and editors and becoming part of their community, as sometimes reviewers who show dedication to the journal are later hired as editors. Some scientists see peer review as a chance to become aware of the latest research before their peers, and thus be first to develop new insights from the material.
Finally, in terms of career development, peer reviewing can be desirable as it is often noted on one’s resume or CV. Many institutions consider a researcher’s involvement in peer review when assessing their performance for promotions (). Peer reviewing can also be an effective way for a scientist to show their superiors that they are committed to their scientific field ().
A 2009 international survey of 4000 peer reviewers conducted by the charity Sense About Science at the British Science Festival at the University of Surrey, found that 90% of reviewers were keen to peer review (). One third of respondents to the survey said they were happy to review up to five papers per year, and an additional one third of respondents were happy to review up to ten.
On average, it takes approximately six hours to review one paper (), however, this number may vary greatly depending on the content of the paper and the nature of the peer reviewer. One in every 100 participants in the “Sense About Science” survey claims to have taken more than 100 hours to review their last paper ().
Ulrichsweb is a directory that provides information on over 300,000 periodicals, including information regarding which journals are peer reviewed (). After logging into the system using an institutional login (eg. from the University of Toronto), search terms, journal titles or ISSN numbers can be entered into the search bar.
- The database provides the title, publisher, and country of origin of the journal, and indicates whether the journal is still actively publishing.
- The black book symbol (labelled ‘refereed’) reveals that the journal is peer reviewed.
- As previously mentioned, when a reviewer receives a scientific manuscript, he/she will first determine if the subject matter is well suited for the content of the journal.
The reviewer will then consider whether the research question is important and original, a process which may be aided by a literature scan of review articles. Scientific papers submitted for peer review usually follow a specific structure that begins with the title, followed by the abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusions, and references.
The title must be descriptive and include the concept and organism investigated, and potentially the variable manipulated and the systems used in the study. The peer reviewer evaluates if the title is descriptive enough, and ensures that it is clear and concise. A study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) published by the Oxford University Press in 2006 indicated that the title of a manuscript plays a significant role in determining reader interest, as 72% of respondents said they could usually judge whether an article will be of interest to them based on the title and the author, while 13% of respondents claimed to always be able to do so ().
The abstract is a summary of the paper, which briefly mentions the background or purpose, methods, key results, and major conclusions of the study. The peer reviewer assesses whether the abstract is sufficiently informative and if the content of the abstract is consistent with the rest of the paper.
The NAR study indicated that 40% of respondents could determine whether an article would be of interest to them based on the abstract alone 60-80% of the time, while 32% could judge an article based on the abstract 80-100% of the time (). This demonstrates that the abstract alone is often used to assess the value of an article.
The introduction of a scientific paper presents the research question in the context of what is already known about the topic, in order to identify why the question being studied is of interest to the scientific community, and what gap in knowledge the study aims to fill ().
The introduction identifies the study’s purpose and scope, briefly describes the general methods of investigation, and outlines the hypothesis and predictions (). The peer reviewer determines whether the introduction provides sufficient background information on the research topic, and ensures that the research question and hypothesis are clearly identifiable.
The methods section describes the experimental procedures, and explains why each experiment was conducted. The methods section also includes the equipment and reagents used in the investigation. The methods section should be detailed enough that it can be used it to repeat the experiment ().
- Methods are written in the past tense and in the active voice.
- The peer reviewer assesses whether the appropriate methods were used to answer the research question, and if they were written with sufficient detail.
- If information is missing from the methods section, it is the peer reviewer’s job to identify what details need to be added.
The results section is where the outcomes of the experiment and trends in the data are explained without judgement, bias or interpretation (). This section can include statistical tests performed on the data, as well as figures and tables in addition to the text.
The peer reviewer ensures that the results are described with sufficient detail, and determines their credibility. Reviewers also confirm that the text is consistent with the information presented in tables and figures, and that all figures and tables included are important and relevant (). The peer reviewer will also make sure that table and figure captions are appropriate both contextually and in length, and that tables and figures present the data accurately.
The discussion section is where the data is analyzed. Here, the results are interpreted and related to past studies (). The discussion describes the meaning and significance of the results in terms of the research question and hypothesis, and states whether the hypothesis was supported or rejected.
- This section may also provide possible explanations for unusual results and suggestions for future research ().
- The discussion should end with a conclusions section that summarizes the major findings of the investigation.
- The peer reviewer determines whether the discussion is clear and focused, and whether the conclusions are an appropriate interpretation of the results.
Reviewers also ensure that the discussion addresses the limitations of the study, any anomalies in the results, the relationship of the study to previous research, and the theoretical implications and practical applications of the study. The references are found at the end of the paper, and list all of the information sources cited in the text to describe the background, methods, and/or interpret results.
- Depending on the citation method used, the references are listed in alphabetical order according to author last name, or numbered according to the order in which they appear in the paper.
- The peer reviewer ensures that references are used appropriately, cited accurately, formatted correctly, and that none are missing.
Finally, the peer reviewer determines whether the paper is clearly written and if the content seems logical. After thoroughly reading through the entire manuscript, they determine whether it meets the journal’s standards for publication, and whether it falls within the top 25% of papers in its field () to determine priority for publication.
An overview of what a peer reviewer looks for when evaluating a manuscript, in order of importance, is presented in, How a peer review evaluates a manuscript To increase the chance of success in the peer review process, the author must ensure that the paper fully complies with the journal guidelines before submission.
The author must also be open to criticism and suggested revisions, and learn from mistakes made in previous submissions. The peer review process is generally conducted in one of three ways: open review, single-blind review, or double-blind review. In an open review, both the author of the paper and the peer reviewer know one another’s identity.
- Alternatively, in single-blind review, the reviewer’s identity is kept private, but the author’s identity is revealed to the reviewer.
- In double-blind review, the identities of both the reviewer and author are kept anonymous.
- Open peer review is advantageous in that it prevents the reviewer from leaving malicious comments, being careless, or procrastinating completion of the review ().
It encourages reviewers to be open and honest without being disrespectful. Open reviewing also discourages plagiarism amongst authors (). On the other hand, open peer review can also prevent reviewers from being honest for fear of developing bad rapport with the author.
The reviewer may withhold or tone down their criticisms in order to be polite (). This is especially true when younger reviewers are given a more esteemed author’s work, in which case the reviewer may be hesitant to provide criticism for fear that it will damper their relationship with a superior ().
According to the Sense About Science survey, editors find that completely open reviewing decreases the number of people willing to participate, and leads to reviews of little value (). In the aforementioned study by the PRC, only 23% of authors surveyed had experience with open peer review ().
Single-blind peer review is by far the most common. In the PRC study, 85% of authors surveyed had experience with single-blind peer review (). This method is advantageous as the reviewer is more likely to provide honest feedback when their identity is concealed (). This allows the reviewer to make independent decisions without the influence of the author ().
The main disadvantage of reviewer anonymity, however, is that reviewers who receive manuscripts on subjects similar to their own research may be tempted to delay completing the review in order to publish their own data first (). Double-blind peer review is advantageous as it prevents the reviewer from being biased against the author based on their country of origin or previous work ().
This allows the paper to be judged based on the quality of the content, rather than the reputation of the author. The Sense About Science survey indicates that 76% of researchers think double-blind peer review is a good idea (), and the PRC survey indicates that 45% of authors have had experience with double-blind peer review ().
The disadvantage of double-blind peer review is that, especially in niche areas of research, it can sometimes be easy for the reviewer to determine the identity of the author based on writing style, subject matter or self-citation, and thus, impart bias ().
Masking the author’s identity from peer reviewers, as is the case in double-blind review, is generally thought to minimize bias and maintain review quality. A study by Justice et al. in 1998 investigated whether masking author identity affected the quality of the review (). One hundred and eighteen manuscripts were randomized; 26 were peer reviewed as normal, and 92 were moved into the ‘intervention’ arm, where editor quality assessments were completed for 77 manuscripts and author quality assessments were completed for 40 manuscripts ().
There was no perceived difference in quality between the masked and unmasked reviews. Additionally, the masking itself was often unsuccessful, especially with well-known authors (). However, a previous study conducted by McNutt et al. had different results ().
- In this case, blinding was successful 73% of the time, and they found that when author identity was masked, the quality of review was slightly higher ().
- Although Justice et al.
- Argued that this difference was too small to be consequential, their study targeted only biomedical journals, and the results cannot be generalized to journals of a different subject matter ().
Additionally, there were problems masking the identities of well-known authors, introducing a flaw in the methods. Regardless, Justice et al. concluded that masking author identity from reviewers may not improve review quality (). In addition to open, single-blind and double-blind peer review, there are two experimental forms of peer review.
In some cases, following publication, papers may be subjected to post-publication peer review. As many papers are now published online, the scientific community has the opportunity to comment on these papers, engage in online discussions and post a formal review. For example, online publishers PLOS and BioMed Central have enabled scientists to post comments on published papers if they are registered users of the site ().
Philica is another journal launched with this experimental form of peer review. Only 8% of authors surveyed in the PRC study had experience with post-publication review (). Another experimental form of peer review called Dynamic Peer Review has also emerged.
Dynamic peer review is conducted on websites such as Naboj, which allow scientists to conduct peer reviews on articles in the preprint media (). The peer review is conducted on repositories and is a continuous process, which allows the public to see both the article and the reviews as the article is being developed ().
Dynamic peer review helps prevent plagiarism as the scientific community will already be familiar with the work before the peer reviewed version appears in print (). Dynamic review also reduces the time lag between manuscript submission and publishing.
- An example of a preprint server is the ‘arXiv’ developed by Paul Ginsparg in 1991, which is used primarily by physicists ().
- These alternative forms of peer review are still un-established and experimental.
- Traditional peer review is time-tested and still highly utilized.
- All methods of peer review have their advantages and deficiencies, and all are prone to error.
Open access (OA) journals are becoming increasingly popular as they allow the potential for widespread distribution of publications in a timely manner (). Nevertheless, there can be issues regarding the peer review process of open access journals. In a study published in Science in 2013, John Bohannon submitted 304 slightly different versions of a fictional scientific paper (written by a fake author, working out of a non-existent institution) to a selected group of OA journals.
- This study was performed in order to determine whether papers submitted to OA journals are properly reviewed before publication in comparison to subscription-based journals.
- The journals in this study were selected from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Biall’s List, a list of journals which are potentially predatory, and all required a fee for publishing ().
Of the 304 journals, 157 accepted a fake paper, suggesting that acceptance was based on financial interest rather than the quality of article itself, while 98 journals promptly rejected the fakes (). Although this study highlights useful information on the problems associated with lower quality publishers that do not have an effective peer review system in place, the article also generalizes the study results to all OA journals, which can be detrimental to the general perception of OA journals.
There were two limitations of the study that made it impossible to accurately determine the relationship between peer review and OA journals: 1) there was no control group (subscription-based journals), and 2) the fake papers were sent to a non-randomized selection of journals, resulting in bias. Based on a recent survey, the average acceptance rate for papers submitted to scientific journals is about 50% ().
Twenty percent of the submitted manuscripts that are not accepted are rejected prior to review, and 30% are rejected following review (). Of the 50% accepted, 41% are accepted with the condition of revision, while only 9% are accepted without the request for revision ().
- Based on a recent survey by the PRC, 64% of academics are satisfied with the current system of peer review, and only 12% claimed to be ‘dissatisfied’ ().
- The large majority, 85%, agreed with the statement that ‘scientific communication is greatly helped by peer review’ ().
- There was a similarly high level of support (83%) for the idea that peer review ‘provides control in scientific communication’ ().
The following are ten tips on how to be an effective peer reviewer as indicated by Brian Lucey, an expert on the subject (): Peer review is a mutual responsibility among fellow scientists, and scientists are expected, as part of the academic community, to take part in peer review.
If one is to expect others to review their work, they should commit to reviewing the work of others as well, and put effort into it. If the paper is of low quality, suggest that it be rejected, but do not leave ad hominem comments. There is no benefit to being ruthless. When emailing a scientist to ask them to conduct a peer review, the majority of journals will provide a link to either accept or reject.
Do not respond to the email, respond to the link. Suggest how the authors can overcome the shortcomings in their paper. A review should guide the author on what is good and what needs work from the reviewer’s perspective. The peer reviewer plays the role of a scientific peer, not an editor for proofreading or decision-making.
- Don’t fill a review with comments on editorial and typographic issues.
- Instead, focus on adding value with scientific knowledge and commenting on the credibility of the research conducted and conclusions drawn.
- If the paper has a lot of typographical errors, suggest that it be professionally proof edited as part of the review.
Stick to the timeline given when conducting a peer review. Editors track who is reviewing what and when and will know if someone is late on completing a review. It is important to be timely both out of respect for the journal and the author, as well as to not develop a reputation of being late for review deadlines.
The peer reviewer must be realistic about the work presented, the changes they suggest and their role. Peer reviewers may set the bar too high for the paper they are editing by proposing changes that are too ambitious and editors must override them. Ensure that the review is scientific, helpful and courteous.
Be sensitive and respectful with word choice and tone in a review. Remember that both specialists and generalists can provide valuable insight when peer reviewing. Editors will try to get both specialised and general reviewers for any particular paper to allow for different perspectives.
- If someone is asked to review, the editor has determined they have a valid and useful role to play, even if the paper is not in their area of expertise.
- A review requires structure and logical flow.
- A reviewer should proofread their review before submitting it for structural, grammatical and spelling errors as well as for clarity.
Most publishers provide short guides on structuring a peer review on their website. Begin with an overview of the proposed improvements; then provide feedback on the paper structure, the quality of data sources and methods of investigation used, the logical flow of argument, and the validity of conclusions drawn.
Then provide feedback on style, voice and lexical concerns, with suggestions on how to improve. In addition, the American Physiology Society (APS) recommends in its Peer Review 101 Handout that peer reviewers should put themselves in both the editor’s and author’s shoes to ensure that they provide what both the editor and the author need and expect ().
To please the editor, the reviewer should ensure that the peer review is completed on time, and that it provides clear explanations to back up recommendations. To be helpful to the author, the reviewer must ensure that their feedback is constructive. It is suggested that the reviewer take time to think about the paper; they should read it once, wait at least a day, and then re-read it before writing the review ().
- The APS also suggests that Graduate students and researchers pay attention to how peer reviewers edit their work, as well as to what edits they find helpful, in order to learn how to peer review effectively ().
- Additionally, it is suggested that Graduate students practice reviewing by editing their peers’ papers and asking a faculty member for feedback on their efforts.
It is recommended that young scientists offer to peer review as often as possible in order to become skilled at the process (). The majority of students, fellows and trainees do not get formal training in peer review, but rather learn by observing their mentors.
- According to the APS, one acquires experience through networking and referrals, and should therefore try to strengthen relationships with journal editors by offering to review manuscripts ().
- The APS also suggests that experienced reviewers provide constructive feedback to students and junior colleagues on their peer review efforts, and encourages them to peer review to demonstrate the importance of this process in improving science ().
The peer reviewer should only comment on areas of the manuscript that they are knowledgeable about (). If there is any section of the manuscript they feel they are not qualified to review, they should mention this in their comments and not provide further feedback on that section.
The peer reviewer is not permitted to share any part of the manuscript with a colleague (even if they may be more knowledgeable in the subject matter) without first obtaining permission from the editor (). If a peer reviewer comes across something they are unsure of in the paper, they can consult the literature to try and gain insight.
It is important for scientists to remember that if a paper can be improved by the expertise of one of their colleagues, the journal must be informed of the colleague’s help, and approval must be obtained for their colleague to read the protected document.
Additionally, the colleague must be identified in the confidential comments to the editor, in order to ensure that he/she is appropriately credited for any contributions (). It is the job of the reviewer to make sure that the colleague assisting is aware of the confidentiality of the peer review process ().
Once the review is complete, the manuscript must be destroyed and cannot be saved electronically by the reviewers (). When performing a peer review, there are some common scientific errors to look out for. Most of these errors are violations of logic and common sense: these may include contradicting statements, unwarranted conclusions, suggestion of causation when there is only support for correlation, inappropriate extrapolation, circular reasoning, or pursuit of a trivial question ().
It is also common for authors to suggest that two variables are different because the effects of one variable are statistically significant while the effects of the other variable are not, rather than directly comparing the two variables (). Authors sometimes oversee a confounding variable and do not control for it, or forget to include important details on how their experiments were controlled or the physical state of the organisms studied ().
Another common fault is the author’s failure to define terms or use words with precision, as these practices can mislead readers (). Jargon and/or misused terms can be a serious problem in papers. Inaccurate statements about specific citations are also a common occurrence ().
Additionally, many studies produce knowledge that can be applied to areas of science outside the scope of the original study, therefore it is better for reviewers to look at the novelty of the idea, conclusions, data, and methodology, rather than scrutinize whether or not the paper answered the specific question at hand ().
Although it is important to recognize these points, when performing a review it is generally better practice for the peer reviewer to not focus on a checklist of things that could be wrong, but rather carefully identify the problems specific to each paper and continuously ask themselves if anything is missing ().
- An extremely detailed description of how to conduct peer review effectively is presented in the paper How I Review an Original Scientific Article written by Frederic G.
- Hoppin, Jr.
- It can be accessed through the American Physiological Society website under the Peer Review Resources section.
- A major criticism of peer review is that there is little evidence that the process actually works, that it is actually an effective screen for good quality scientific work, and that it actually improves the quality of scientific literature.
As a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded, ‘Editorial peer review, although widely used, is largely untested and its effects are uncertain’ (). Critics also argue that peer review is not effective at detecting errors.
Highlighting this point, an experiment by Godlee et al. published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) inserted eight deliberate errors into a paper that was nearly ready for publication, and then sent the paper to 420 potential reviewers (). Of the 420 reviewers that received the paper, 221 (53%) responded, the average number of errors spotted by reviewers was two, no reviewer spotted more than five errors, and 35 reviewers (16%) did not spot any.
Another criticism of peer review is that the process is not conducted thoroughly by scientific conferences with the goal of obtaining large numbers of submitted papers. Such conferences often accept any paper sent in, regardless of its credibility or the prevalence of errors, because the more papers they accept, the more money they can make from author registration fees ().
This misconduct was exposed in 2014 by three MIT graduate students by the names of Jeremy Stribling, Dan Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, who developed a simple computer program called SCIgen that generates nonsense papers and presents them as scientific papers (). Subsequently, a nonsense SCIgen paper submitted to a conference was promptly accepted.
Nature recently reported that French researcher Cyril Labbé discovered that sixteen SCIgen nonsense papers had been used by the German academic publisher Springer (). Over 100 nonsense papers generated by SCIgen were published by the US Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) ().
Both organisations have been working to remove the papers. Labbé developed a program to detect SCIgen papers and has made it freely available to ensure publishers and conference organizers do not accept nonsense work in the future. It is available at this link: (). Additionally, peer review is often criticized for being unable to accurately detect plagiarism.
However, many believe that detecting plagiarism cannot practically be included as a component of peer review. As explained by Alice Tuff, development manager at Sense About Science, ‘The vast majority of authors and reviewers think peer review should detect plagiarism (81%) but only a minority (38%) think it is capable.
- The academic time involved in detecting plagiarism through peer review would cause the system to grind to a halt’ ().
- Publishing house Elsevier began developing electronic plagiarism tools with the help of journal editors in 2009 to help improve this issue ().
- It has also been argued that peer review has lowered research quality by limiting creativity amongst researchers.
Proponents of this view claim that peer review has repressed scientists from pursuing innovative research ideas and bold research questions that have the potential to make major advances and paradigm shifts in the field, as they believe that this work will likely be rejected by their peers upon review ().
Indeed, in some cases peer review may result in rejection of innovative research, as some studies may not seem particularly strong initially, yet may be capable of yielding very interesting and useful developments when examined under different circumstances, or in the light of new information (). Scientists that do not believe in peer review argue that the process stifles the development of ingenious ideas, and thus the release of fresh knowledge and new developments into the scientific community.
Another issue that peer review is criticized for, is that there are a limited number of people that are competent to conduct peer review compared to the vast number of papers that need reviewing. An enormous number of papers published (1.3 million papers in 23,750 journals in 2006), but the number of competent peer reviewers available could not have reviewed them all ().
Thus, people who lack the required expertise to analyze the quality of a research paper are conducting reviews, and weak papers are being accepted as a result. It is now possible to publish any paper in an obscure journal that claims to be peer-reviewed, though the paper or journal itself could be substandard ().
On a similar note, the US National Library of Medicine indexes 39 journals that specialize in alternative medicine, and though they all identify themselves as “peer-reviewed”, they rarely publish any high quality research (). This highlights the fact that peer review of more controversial or specialized work is typically performed by people who are interested and hold similar views or opinions as the author, which can cause bias in their review.
For instance, a paper on homeopathy is likely to be reviewed by fellow practicing homeopaths, and thus is likely to be accepted as credible, though other scientists may find the paper to be nonsense (). In some cases, papers are initially published, but their credibility is challenged at a later date and they are subsequently retracted.
Retraction Watch is a website dedicated to revealing papers that have been retracted after publishing, potentially due to improper peer review (). Additionally, despite its many positive outcomes, peer review is also criticized for being a delay to the dissemination of new knowledge into the scientific community, and as an unpaid-activity that takes scientists’ time away from activities that they would otherwise prioritize, such as research and teaching, for which they are paid ().
- As described by Eva Amsen, Outreach Director for F1000Research, peer review was originally developed as a means of helping editors choose which papers to publish when journals had to limit the number of papers they could print in one issue ().
- However, nowadays most journals are available online, either exclusively or in addition to print, and many journals have very limited printing runs ().
Since there are no longer page limits to journals, any good work can and should be published. Consequently, being selective for the purpose of saving space in a journal is no longer a valid excuse that peer reviewers can use to reject a paper (). However, some reviewers have used this excuse when they have personal ulterior motives, such as getting their own research published first.
- F1000Research was launched in January 2013 by Faculty of 1000 as an open access journal that immediately publishes papers (after an initial check to ensure that the paper is in fact produced by a scientist and has not been plagiarised), and then conducts transparent post-publication peer review ().
- F1000Research aims to prevent delays in new science reaching the academic community that are caused by prolonged publication times ().
It also aims to make peer reviewing more fair by eliminating any anonymity, which prevents reviewers from delaying the completion of a review so they can publish their own similar work first (). F1000Research offers completely open peer review, where everything is published, including the name of the reviewers, their review reports, and the editorial decision letters ().
PeerJ was founded by Jason Hoyt and Peter Binfield in June 2012 as an open access, peer reviewed scholarly journal for the Biological and Medical Sciences (). PeerJ selects articles to publish based only on scientific and methodological soundness, not on subjective determinants of ‘impact ‘, ‘novelty’ or ‘interest’ ().
It works on a “lifetime publishing plan” model which charges scientists for publishing plans that give them lifetime rights to publish with PeerJ, rather than charging them per publication (). PeerJ also encourages open peer review, and authors are given the option to post the full peer review history of their submission with their published article ().
PeerJ also offers a pre-print review service called PeerJ Pre-prints, in which paper drafts are reviewed before being sent to PeerJ to publish (). Rubriq is an independent peer review service designed by Shashi Mudunuri and Keith Collier to improve the peer review system (). Rubriq is intended to decrease redundancy in the peer review process so that the time lost in redundant reviewing can be put back into research ().
According to Keith Collier, over 15 million hours are lost each year to redundant peer review, as papers get rejected from one journal and are subsequently submitted to a less prestigious journal where they are reviewed again (). Authors often have to submit their manuscript to multiple journals, and are often rejected multiple times before they find the right match.
- This process could take months or even years ().
- Rubriq makes peer review portable in order to help authors choose the journal that is best suited for their manuscript from the beginning, thus reducing the time before their paper is published ().
- Rubriq operates under an author-pay model, in which the author pays a fee and their manuscript undergoes double-blind peer review by three expert academic reviewers using a standardized scorecard ().
The majority of the author’s fee goes towards a reviewer honorarium (). The papers are also screened for plagiarism using iThenticate (). Once the manuscript has been reviewed by the three experts, the most appropriate journal for submission is determined based on the topic and quality of the paper ().
The paper is returned to the author in 1-2 weeks with the Rubriq Report (). The author can then submit their paper to the suggested journal with the Rubriq Report attached. The Rubriq Report will give the journal editors a much stronger incentive to consider the paper as it shows that three experts have recommended the paper to them ().
Rubriq also has its benefits for reviewers; the Rubriq scorecard gives structure to the peer review process, and thus makes it consistent and efficient, which decreases time and stress for the reviewer. Reviewers also receive feedback on their reviews and most significantly, they are compensated for their time ().
Journals also benefit, as they receive pre-screened papers, reducing the number of papers sent to their own reviewers, which often end up rejected (). This can reduce reviewer fatigue, and allow only higher-quality articles to be sent to their peer reviewers (). According to Eva Amsen, peer review and scientific publishing are moving in a new direction, in which all papers will be posted online, and a post-publication peer review will take place that is independent of specific journal criteria and solely focused on improving paper quality ().
Journals will then choose papers that they find relevant based on the peer reviews and publish those papers as a collection (). In this process, peer review and individual journals are uncoupled (). In Keith Collier’s opinion, post-publication peer review is likely to become more prevalent as a complement to pre-publication peer review, but not as a replacement ().
Post-publication peer review will not serve to identify errors and fraud but will provide an additional measurement of impact (). Collier also believes that as journals and publishers consolidate into larger systems, there will be stronger potential for “cascading” and shared peer review (). Peer review has become fundamental in assisting editors in selecting credible, high quality, novel and interesting research papers to publish in scientific journals and to ensure the correction of any errors or issues present in submitted papers.
Though the peer review process still has some flaws and deficiencies, a more suitable screening method for scientific papers has not yet been proposed or developed. Researchers have begun and must continue to look for means of addressing the current issues with peer review to ensure that it is a full-proof system that ensures only quality research papers are released into the scientific community.1.
” What Is Peer Review? ” (2014). Int J Comput Appl, Web. Retrieved July 02, 2014, from 2. ” Peer Review “. (2014). Elsevier Publishing Guidelines, Web. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from 3. Spier R. (2002). ” The History of the Peer-review Process. ” Trends Biotechnol, 20 ( 8 ): 357-358.4. Liumbruno GM., Velati C., Pasaualetti P., Franchini M.
(2012). ” How to Write a Scientific Manuscript for Publica-tíon. ” Blood Transfus, 11 ( 2 ): 217-226.5. ” Peer Review: What It Is, Why It’s Done and How to Do It “. Elsevier; Web. Retrieved June 26, 2014, from 6. Fitzpatrick K. (2009). ” Planned Obsolecence “.
- Media-Commons Press,
- Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 7. Ware M. (2008).
- Peer Review: Benefits, Perceptions and Alternatives.
- PRC Summary Papers, 4 :4-20.8.
- Mulligan A. (2005).
- Is Peer Review in Crisis? ” Oral On-col.41 ( 2 ): 135-141.9.
- Simons-Morton B., Abraido-Lanza AF., Bernhardt JM., Schoenthaler A., Schnitzer A., Allegerante JP.
(2012). ” Demystifying Peer Review. “, 39 ( 1 ): 3-7.10. Swoger B. (2014). ” Post Publication Peer-review: Everything Changes, and Everything Stays the Same “. Scientific Americanblogs, Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 11. ” Peer Review 101. ” (2013). The American Physiological Society,
Web. Retrieved July 02, 2014, from 12. Schley D. (2009).” Peer Reviewers Satisfied with System,” Times Higher Education, Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 13. Ulrichsweb Global Science Directory. Web. Retrieved June 27, 2014 from 14. Saxby C, Richardson M. (2006). ” Assessing the Impact of Open Access “. Oxford Journals Preliminary Report,
Web. Retrieved July 11th, 2014 from 15. Steingraber S. (1985). ” Guidelines For Writing Scientific Papers “. Honors Organismal Biology Laboratory Manual, Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 16. ” Reviewers Information Pack “. (2011). International Conference on Mathematical Modeling in Physical Sciences,Web.
Retrieved July 04, 2014, from 17. Justice AC., Cho MK., Winker MA., Berlin JA., Rennie D. (1998).” Does Masking Author Identity Improve Peer Review Quality? ” JAMA, 280 ( 3 ):240-242.18. McNutt RA, Evans AT., Fletcher RH., Fletcher SW. (1990). ” The Effects of Blinding on the Quality of Peer Review. ” JAMA, 263 ( 10 ):1371-1376.19.
Kumar M. (2009). ” A Review of the Review Process: Manuscript Peer-review in Biomedical Research. ” Biology and Medicine, 1 ( 4 ): 1-16.20. Falagas ME. (2007). ” Peer Review in Open Access Scientific Journals. ” Open Medicine, 1 ( 1 ): 49-51.21. Bohannon J.
(2013). ” Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? ” Science, 342 ( 6154 ):60-65.22. Lucey B. (2013). ” Peer Review: How to Get It Right – 10Tips. ” The Guardian, Web. Retrieved from 23. Nichols NL, Sasser JM. (2014). ” The Other Side of the Submit Button: How to Become a Reviewer for Scientific Journals. ” The Physiologist, 57 ( 2 ): 88-91.24.
Hoppin FG., Jr. (2002). ” How I Review an Original Scientific Article. ” Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 166 ( 8 ): 1019-1023.25. Jefferson T, Alderson P, Wager E, Davidoff F. (2002). ” Effects of Editorial Peer Review: A Systematic Review. ” JAMA, 287 ( 21 ): 2784-2786.26.
Sample I. (2014). ” How Computer-generated Fake Papers Are Flooding Academia. ” The Guardian, Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 27. Sattary L. (2009). ” Peer Review under the Microscope. ” Royal Society of Chemistry,Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 28. Corbyn Z. (2008). ” Call to Scrap Peer Review in Hunt for Brilliant Ideas.
” Times Higher Education, Web. Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 29. Colquhoun D. (2011). ” Publish-or-perish: Peer Review and the Corruption of Science. ” The Guardian,Web. Retrieved from 30. Retraction Watch. Web. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from 31. Jennings CG. (2006).
- Quality and Value: The True Purpose of Peer Review.
- Nature blogs, Web.
- Retrieved July 11, 2014 from 32.
- Tippmann S. (2014).
- New Avenues For Peer Review: An (Audio) Interview With Eva Amsen.
- Peer Review Watch, Web.
- Retrieved July 07, 2014 from 33.
- Wesolek A. (2013).
- OA Now Interview with Peter Binfield of PeerJ.
” Open Access Now. Web. Retrieved July 07, 2014 from 34. ” Two Publications “. (2012). Peer J. Web. Retrieved July 08, 2014, from 35. Meadows A. (2013). ” A New Approach to Peer Review – an Interview with Keith Collier, Co-founder of Rubriq. ” Wiley Exchanges,
Why is peer review an important part of the scientific process?
Strengths of Peer Review –
Peer review promotes and maintains high standards in research, which has implications for society and funding allocation so that it is assigned to high quality research.Helps to prevent scientific fraud, as submitted work is scrutinised. It promotes the scientific process through the development and dissemination of accurate of knowledge and contributes new knowledge to the field.
How does peer review work in the scientific community?
- Peer-reviewed journals are publications in which scientific contributions have been vetted by experts in the relevant field.
- Peer-reviewed articles provide a trusted form of scientific communication. Peer-reviewed work isn’t necessarily correct or conclusive, but it does meet the standards of science.
In science, peer review helps provide assurance that published research meets minimum standards for scientific quality. Peer review typically works something like this:
- A group of scientists completes a study and writes it up in the form of an article. They submit it to a journal for publication.
- The journal’s editors send the article to several other scientists who work in the same field (i.e., the “peers” of peer review).
- Those reviewers provide feedback on the article and tell the editor whether or not they think the study is of high enough quality to be published.
- The authors may then revise their article and resubmit it for consideration.
- Only articles that meet good scientific standards (e.g., acknowledge and build upon other work in the field, rely on logical reasoning and well-designed studies, back up claims with evidence, etc.) are accepted for publication.
Peer review and publication are time-consuming, frequently involving more than a year between submission and publication. The process is also highly competitive. For example, the highly-regarded journal Science accepts less than 8% of the articles it receives, and The New England Journal of Medicine publishes just 6% of its submissions.
Peer-reviewed articles provide a trusted form of scientific communication. Even if you are unfamiliar with the topic or the scientists who authored a particular study, you can trust peer-reviewed work to meet certain standards of scientific quality. Since scientific knowledge is cumulative and builds on itself, this trust is particularly important.
No scientist would want to base their own work on someone else’s unreliable study! Peer-reviewed work isn’t necessarily correct or conclusive, but it does meet the standards of science. And that means that once a piece of scientific research passes through peer review and is published, science must deal with it somehow — perhaps by incorporating it into the established body of scientific knowledge, building on it further, figuring out why it is wrong, or trying to replicate its results.
What is peer review and why is it important in biology?
What is the Peer Review Process? – Peer reviewed articles are the appropriate type of resource to use for your assignments. Peer reviewed articles primarily appear in academic, scientific, or other scholarly publications. When an article is considered “peer reviewed,” that means that it has undergone the peer review process.
Peer review is a process in which an article is judged by an impartial panel of two or more experts in the field; these experts are called “peer reviewers.” Peer reviewers primarily focus on ensuring that an article does not have any errors or biases in terms of its experimental procedures and analyses, that the article’s findings make a substantial contribution to its field, and that the article provides new information within its specified field.
In order to find scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, it is most efficient to use the library’s databases (see Finding Articles on left).
How does peer review influence the development of scientific theories?
How does peer review influence the development of scientific theories? Careful evaluation of research results by other scientists ensures that only solid and legitimate research results are published, and helps prevent faulty research or false claims from being viewed as scientific fact.
What does peer review mean in science?
The peer-review process subjects an author’s scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field (peers) and is considered necessary to ensure academic scientific quality.
Why are peer-reviewed articles reliable?
Articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed, academic, and refereed journals are more credible than articles from popular or trade journals (‘magazines’) because they have gone through the most rigorous review process. They also have the most references or citations.
What are three ways the scientific community reviews scientific results?
Three ways the scientific community reviews scientific results. informal feedback at conferences, peer review, and replication of results give an example of how ethics could impact a government’s policy on science.
Is peer review part of the scientific method?
So what is “peer-reviewing”? – Most people hearing “peer-review” assume it is a good thing (and this is certainly true) but what does “peer-review” mean? Essentially, peer-review is an integral part of the scientific process, and what helps separate “opinion” and “fact”.
Why is peer review important NCBI?
Peer review refers to the process through which scientific papers are evaluated by professionals in related academic fields. In scientific journals, peer review is used to determine whether a submitted paper is suitable for publication in terms of its scientific value.
- As such, the outcomes of peer review are a major determinant of whether articles are published in scholarly journals.
- Peer review, which is distinctively characterized by horizontal evaluation by peers, is considered to be one of the fairest ways to assess the quality of papers.
- Peer review methods vary from journal to journal, and can be generally divided into three methods: single-blind review, double-blind review, and open review.
Blind review is a common practice, as it guarantees reviewers’ anonymity, enabling them to provide bold and candid reviews. In double-blind review, both the authors and the reviewers are anonymous, meaning that papers are evaluated based only on their academic value.
- Through blind review processes, journals can achieve an objective degree of fairness in terms of the papers they publish, and authors can feel confident of their papers being fairly reviewed.
- Most journals therefore use single- or double-blind review,
- Despite the numerous advantages of blind review, this method is accompanied by delays, difficulties in terms of costs, and challenges in finding reviewers.
A significant load may be placed on certain reviewers. Given these issues, author-guided open peer review and post-publication review have emerged as alternatives. In author-guided open peer review, authors recommend professionals who will review their papers.
- As a result, papers undergo dynamic evaluations, high-quality reviews are provided, and collaboration between authors and reviewers can be encouraged.
- This review method can be especially useful if too few reviewers are available.
- Despite the generally beneficial role of peer review, problems associated with the peer review process include delayed reviews, bias on the part of reviewers, and plagiarism.
Therefore, post-publication review has received attention as a new alternative. The paper review process of Archives of Craniofacial Surgery starts with the submission of papers to the journal editor through the e-submission system. If a paper is judged to be at an appropriate level for publication in the journal, the editor selects three peer reviewers and the review process is conducted.
- The initial decision is generally made within 3 weeks after the reviewers decide whether to review the paper, and the corresponding author is notified.
- The reviewer has two main roles.
- One is to evaluate the value of the paper for publication.
- According to international standards, options include “accept,” “accept pending revisions,” “reconsider after major revisions,” and “reject.” The reviewer’s other role is to provide constructive criticism to the authors of the paper under review.
The following three reasons may cause a reviewer to agree to accept a paper: first, the paper is timely and relevant to the latest research trends; second, the paper is easy to read, logical, and well-written; and third, the research design and methods are scientifically reasonable.
However, papers can be rejected for the following six reasons; first, the paper is incomplete in terms of its statistical analysis; second, the paper interprets results in an exaggerated way; third, the methods are suboptimal or insufficiently described; fourth, the sample size is too small; fifth, the manuscript is written in a way that is too difficult to understand; and sixth, there is an insufficient description of the paper’s limitations,
Being aware of these desiderata will be helpful for reviewers, researchers, and authors. A reviewer should avoid replying too late about his or her choice to review a paper, because this is a major reason for delaying the decision on a paper. The content of reviews should not be generic or noninformative.
- A review should include a critical analysis of the paper and its fundamental components,
- The final decision on whether a paper is to be published is made by the journal’s editor or editorial board.
- The role of a reviewer is not to decide whether to publish a paper, but to advise the editor about the decision.
Cooperative collaboration between the editor and reviewers enables the publication of excellent papers and promotes improvements in journal quality.
What is a peer-reviewed article and why is it important to the field of psychology?
Peer review is a quality control process used by publications to help ensure that only high quality, methodologically sound information is presented in the publication. In the peer review process, material submitted for publication is sent to individuals who are experts on the topic.
How does peer review prevent scientific bias?
c. Conducting a blinded peer review – Blinding can help reduce bias in peer review.
In double-blind peer review, the identities of authors and reviewers are concealed from each other. Some journals have even introduced triple-blind peer review, where the authors’ identity is also hidden from the journal editors.
These types of blinding efforts help reviewers focus on the content of an assigned manuscript, rather than a paper’s authorship or institutional affiliation.
What is the impact factor of scientific review?
National Science Review Academic journal National Science Review ( NSR ; abbreviation: Natl. Sci. Rev., Chinese title: 国家科学评论) is an English-language peer-reviewed multidisciplinary published by under the auspices of the, The journal publishes both review articles and perspectives as well as original research in the form of brief communications and research articles.
What is the problem with the peer review process in scientific research?
Potential problems of peer review – Because of how overwhelming the review process can be, the results are not always consistent between different articles and journals. Particularly, the decisions of reviewers can be inconsistent. One study showed that recently published articles, when resubmitted a few months later, are often rejected by the same journal – most of the reviewers did not detect that it was a resubmission, and the articles were frequently rejected due to “methodological flaws,” showing the volatility of reviewer decisions.
This may be due in part to the disparities in opinions between reviewers, making it very difficult to submit a paper that will be liked by all of the reviewers. In fact, another study did a probability analysis and showed that it was so unlikely and unpredictable to get two reviewers to agree, that getting a paper accepted by both reviewers has a similar probability to throwing a dice.
Additionally, reviewers are of course humans too! They will sometimes miss critical information in a paper or have personal biases when reviewing, causing dubious research to sometimes be published. Furthermore, another study shows that there may be a bias in favor of the institutions that the reviewers themselves are affiliated with.
After all this work, published, peer-reviewed works can still be retracted, with one of the most notable examples of this being from a few decades ago, in which a paper was published in the Lancet that linked autism to vaccines (Figure 2). This paper was later retracted for many reasons, including data manipulation, low sample size, conflicts of interest, and countless other pieces of evidence contradicting the claims.
As you can see, not every paper that is peer-reviewed is a mistake-free paper with good science. Figure 2: It can be difficult to get a paper through multiple reviewers, and even if a paper does get published, it does not mean that it is necessarily free of mistakes. There are multiple possible outcomes when submitting an article to a peer-reviewed journal: a) the paper can be rejected, b) the paper can be accepted, or c) the paper can be accepted but later retracted.
- There is also a gender bias in selecting reviewers – despite a significant portion of researchers being women, women make up a much smaller fraction of reviewers.
- This survey observed that authors, regardless of gender, suggest mostly male peers as reviewers to their editors (Figure 3).
- Along these same lines, another paper determined that female reviewers are less likely to be chosen by peers than if a reviewer was randomly selected.
This widespread gender bias may then lead to further biases in the review process. This same study showed that there are fewer female authors publishing than what is expected based on the population of female researchers, possibly due to a gender bias similar to the one present in reviewer selection. Figure 3: Biases in reviewer selection. When a manuscript is submitted, experts in the related fields are selected to be reviewers, as indicated by the arrows in the figure above. Male reviewers are selected more often than if left to chance, resulting in disproportionately more male reviewers than female reviewers. This may affect downstream biases of approving or rejecting manuscripts.
What do peer-reviewed sources provide that other sources do not?
Scholarly/peer-reviewed articles differ from other easily available print sources because the review process gives them more authority than, for example, a newspaper or magazine article. Newspaper or popular magazine articles are written by journalists (not specialists in any field except journalism).
What is the purpose of peer review in science quizlet?
Also called ‘refereeing’, peer review is the assessment of scientific work by others who are experts in the same field (i.e peers). The intention is to ensure that any research conducted and published is of high quality. Peer reviewers are generally unpaid.
Is peer-reviewed important?
What is Peer Review and why is it important? We asked Emma Soneson, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, about Peer Reviewing. What is Peer Review, and why is it important? Peer review is a fundamental part of scientific publishing whereby individuals with relevant expertise who were not involved in a particular piece of research critically appraise others’ work to ensure that it meets standards for ethical conduct, quality, and rigour.
- In fact, peer review is such a fundamental part of the research process that it’s hard to imagine a world without it! In the field of child and adolescent mental health, decisions about policy and practice rely on having high-quality evidence readily available.
- As peer reviewers, we help in this decision-making process by assessing the quality and implications of research.
Without peer review, it would be far more difficult (and time-consuming) for clinicians, policymakers, educators, researchers, and members of the public to evaluate research in our field. Peer reviewers therefore play a critical role in helping appraise the evidence and ensure that it’s acceptable for publication and dissemination.
- The theme of this year’s Peer Review Week is ‘Research Integrity: Creating and Supporting Trust in Research’.
- How do you think we can create and support trust in research through the peer review process? If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that rigorously conducted and thoroughly peer-reviewed research is essential in promoting and protecting people’s health.
Unfortunately, we’ve also seen how poor-quality research that has ‘slipped through the cracks’ in terms of peer review can have serious and wide-reaching consequences. When done properly, peer review can help build trust in science by serving as a ‘quality control’ measure that ensures that research – and especially the research that hits the front page of the newspapers and/or forms the basis of health policy and practice – has been conducted to a high standard.
Rigorous peer review can lend credibility to research and ensure that decision-making is based on a strong foundation of high-quality evidence. As an early career researcher, what influenced you to be a peer reviewer and what impact has it had on your own work? As is likely the case with many early career researchers, I was initially nervous that I wouldn’t be a ‘good enough’ peer reviewer.
After all, how could I, as a new researcher, judge the work of others who have been in this field for decades? However, I knew that participating in the peer review process was an important part of being a researcher and in ‘giving back’ to the scientific community, and so was eager to contribute.
- Luckily, the first review I ever wrote was in partnership with my supervisor, who helped guide me through the process.
- When I sent back pages of line-by-line comments, he clarified that it’s more useful to focus on a few overarching issues rather than to worry about things like grammar and formatting.
Having his guidance was immensely helpful for this first review (and I really hate to think how the authors would have reacted after receiving five pages of comments!) Since that first review, I’ve reviewed for nine journals and have become a lot more confident – and hopefully more useful! – as a reviewer.
While I’m glad to be contributing to improving the science behind child and adolescent mental health, I also gain a lot from peer review myself. Through critically assessing others’ work, I’ve learned what reviewers are looking for and can therefore make sure that my own papers address those points. I’ve also learned a lot about our field this way! Doing peer reviews helps make sure that I stay on top of the most recent research in my area, which helps me to develop my own research ideas and make sure that my work is impactful.
Finally, peer review helps expose me to new methods that I can use in my own research. Just recently, I reviewed a systematic review that used a style of quantitative synthesis that I’d never seen before but that I will definitely consider using moving forward! What is your approach when it comes to peer reviewing? The first step for me is always determining whether I’m a suitable reviewer for the paper.
- Any time I get an invitation, I always read the abstract to make sure that I am confident enough in the content area and methods used to be able to write a useful, well-informed review.
- If I feel it’s a good fit, I start by reading the entire paper through once without writing a single comment.
- This helps me get a sense of the bigger picture of the article and its narrative before focusing in on the detail (this is something that I’ve changed since I first started reviewing, and I highly recommend this strategy!) On the second readthrough, I start making notes to myself about potential issues and check the methods against the authors’ pre-registration, if available.
In this iteration, I always try to comment on objective issues, rather than personal preferences (e.g. ‘This paragraph is technically correct, but I would have worded it differently’). It’s important to remember that different authors have different styles, and your job as a reviewer is to assess the merit of their work, not to say how you would have written the paper! When I finally write up the review for the authors and editors, I always structure it in a way that assesses both the strengths and weaknesses of the paper, as from an author perspective it’s never nice to receive a page full of solely-critical comments! I put a lot of care into how I phrase all of my points and make sure to offer potential suggestions for improvements and solutions rather than just raising issues.
My general motto is to never write a review that I wouldn’t be happy to read aloud to the authors! Can you give us a few examples of what you think makes a good peer reviewer? Having been on the receiving end of many peer reviews, I’ve learned a lot about what makes a good review! Regardless of the final recommendation (i.e.
to accept/revise/reject), it’s always useful when a reviewer provides constructive criticism on how the paper can be improved. As I mentioned above, nothing is more disheartening than receiving a laundry list of negative comments. It’s so much more useful to receive suggestions on how to improve! For example, can the methods be clarified? Can the recommendations for practitioners be made more impactful? These are the types of suggestions that can help make the paper – and science as a whole – better.
Relatedly, I find it useful to hear what was good about a paper. This helps me understand how to progress my research moving forward and to ensure that it’s useful and relevant to the field. I also appreciate reviews that are specific. Again, regardless of the final recommendation you make, it’s always helpful to give the precise details and reasoning behind your decision.
As an author, I’ve been on the receiving end of the ‘single sentence review’ (in my case, an unfavourable assessment of our paper), and I can say with complete certainty that this is not helpful to anyone! It doesn’t help the editors to make an informed decision about publication, it doesn’t help the authors to improve their paper, and it doesn’t help to move research forward.
- Authors spend a lot of time conducting research and writing it up for submission, and they deserve more than a single sentence in return! Last but not least, a good review is one where the reviewer has acknowledged any limitations they may have.
- Are you an expert in a topic area, but not 100% sure about whether the statistical methods used were appropriate? Your review can still be incredibly valuable, but do make sure to acknowledge your uncertainties about the methods! This can help the editor to search for a reviewer with the specific expertise you’re lacking.
None of us are experts in everything, and acknowledging our limitations is an important part of enabling a rigorous review process! Why do you think early career researchers should get involved in peer reviewing, and how can they go about this? There are so many benefits of peer reviewing, especially for early career researchers.
Peer review is valuable for improving your own research through learning about how papers are assessed as well as keeping on top of your topic area and innovative methodology! Given my own experiences, I’d always recommend doing your first peer review with supervision from someone who’s done them before.
This can help make sure you’re on the right track with your comments and can boost your confidence if you’re feeling nervous about completing your first review. After this, you can sign yourself up as a reviewer for journals you like, so that they know they can contact you as a reviewer.
- By the time you’ve written a few papers as corresponding author, don’t be surprised if the journals contact you directly! But, as with all things, it’s important to remember that it’s a balance.
- At this point, I receive an average of two peer review invitations a week.
- It’s important not to take on too many, as doing a good peer review takes time.
Instead, I recommend focusing on one review at a time, to ensure that you have the time and energy to do a thorough job. : What is Peer Review and why is it important?
Is there bias in peer review?
Conceptually, the peer review process can lead to distortion of the results from the viewpoint of the evidence user, akin to bias. Peer review bias can be defined as a violation of impartiality in the evaluation of a submission.
Why is peer review an important part of the scientific process quizlet?
Why is Peer Review Important? – Peer review is an important part of the scientific process because it provides peers (who are usually experts in that particular field) and opportunity to check the validity of the research. – Also make a judgement about the credibility and appropriateness of the design and methodology.
Why is peer review important in science GCSE?
The purpose of peer review is to check if the research is valid, original and significant.
Why is peer review an important step in the modern scientific process quizlet?
What is the importance of peer review in the scientific process? It ensures that a study has been appropriately designed and correctly interpreted.
What is the purpose of peer review in science quizlet?
Also called ‘refereeing’, peer review is the assessment of scientific work by others who are experts in the same field (i.e peers). The intention is to ensure that any research conducted and published is of high quality. Peer reviewers are generally unpaid.