How the peer review process works When a scholarly work is submitted to a scientific journal, it first undergoes a preliminary check known as a desk review. The editor decides if the manuscript should be sent for peer review or be immediately rejected.
The next step is to select experts from the same field who are qualified and able to review the work impartially. Ideally the work is evaluated by multiple experts. The primary goals of a peer review are to determine whether a scholarly work falls within the journal's scope, to check whether the research topic has been clearly formulated, and to decide if a suitable approach has been taken to address the scientific issues involved.
The reviewer also examines the methodology to determine whether the author's results can be reproduced, and he or she assesses the novelty and originality of the research findings. If a work involves patients or animals, then the peer review will also cover ethical aspects.
Finally, the reviewer will also rate the 'readability' of the work, assessing how logically the argument has been constructed and whether the conclusions are well-founded. In addition, the author of the work will generally receive useful advice on how to improve their work. Peer reviewers normally provide their assessment in the form of a questionnaire which they return to the editor.
This forms the basis for deciding whether the work should be accepted, considered acceptable with revisions, or rejected. Submissions with serious failings will be rejected, though they can be re-submitted once they have been thoroughly revised.
If a work is rejected, this does not necessarily mean it is of poor quality. A paper may also be rejected because it doesn't fall within the journal's area of specialisation or because it doesn't meet the high standards of novelty and originality required by the journal in question.
Some prestigious journals reject over 90 percent of papers submitted to them, while the rejection rate across all scientific journals is somewhere in the region of 50 percent. Another reason a paper may be rejected is that the reviewers do not agree that the approach taken by the author is innovative.
There are also some journals which take a more relaxed stance in regard to originality and focus more on the extent to which the author has followed correct scientific procedures. It is therefore common for authors to submit their paper to a different journal after receiving a rejection. 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.
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.
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.
In fact, the peer review process is thought to have been used as a method of evaluating written work since ancient Greece 2. The peer review process was first described by a physician named Ishaq bin Ali al-Rahwi of Syria, who lived from CE, in his book Ethics of the Physician 2. 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 2. The invention of the printing press in allowed written documents to be distributed to the general public 3. 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.
The evidence suggests that anonymity has little impact on the quality of the review or acceptance rates, but revealing the identity of reviewers may lower the likelihood that someone will volunteer to review van Rooyen et al. Despite the evidence that opening up the peer-review process to public scrutiny does not seem to affect the quality one way or another, the debate has continued, mainly focusing on the ancillary effects of disclosing the identity of the reviewers.
Proponents have argued that opening the review process is ethically superior with little or no impact on the process and in fact may encourage more civility in the review process Godlee ; Morrison The major concerns about open peer review focus on the introduction of personal biases and the potential of retribution in what tends to be a very small world within specific fields.
There is a particular concern about the impact on young investigators, who are particularly vulnerable. In a recent survey of both authors and reviewers for Medical Education , a widely read journal in the field, the respondents strongly supported blinding of both authors and reviewers Regehr and Bordage There is no clear consensus on whether manuscripts should be blinded, and the arguments on both sides seem persuasive.
Although opening the peer-review process is not contingent on the Internet, the Internet can facilitate an even more transparent review processes. Many of the BioMed Central medical journals use a completely open review process in which not only are the identities of the reviewers and authors public, but the full review record, including all reviewer feedback and subsequent iterations of correspondence in the revision process, is made publicly available with the published manuscript.
Complete disclosure of the review record would probably not be feasible with a paper journal for logistical reasons. A more recent innovation that is contingent on the Internet has been to open the review process to anyone who wishes to comment on a paper. As noted, Nature recently implemented an open review process on a trial basis in parallel to their normal review process, and the Public Library of Science will be implementing PLoS One , a new journal that will use a two-stage process in which a single academic editor performs an initial screen followed by a system for public comment and discussion.
It remains to be seen how successful these public review systems will be. There are a number of less-well-known specialty journals that have implemented review systems based on public comment.
Manuscripts that fit the scope of the journal are immediately posted for public comment for three months, and if there is a continuing discussion the period can be extended. After the discussion period, authors are given an opportunity to revise their manuscripts based on the feedback, and then the manuscript is sent out for external blind review.
If accepted, articles are usually published within a month. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics uses a two-stage approach that includes public comment Koop and Poschl In addition, designated reviewers publish their signed comments along with unsolicited comments from other readers. Authors also are allowed to respond to the comments.
In a second stage, the manuscripts are reviewed using traditional review procedures. Accepted articles are published in the main journal. All the discussion papers and comments are also maintained permanently on the site. These innovative systems that combine public comment with various forms of more traditional review are intriguing and have real merit. They have the potential of doing a significantly better job of balancing the various roles journals play in scientific and scholarly communities.
Rapid initial publication of manuscripts with mechanisms for public comment and discussion serve the role of facilitating communication among scholars.
At the same time, the use of this public comment along with more traditional peer review prior to final publication provides the same or even possibly a higher level of quality control as traditional peer review.
The process of publicly discussing papers also fits well with the roles of fostering scientific communities and disseminating and sustaining standards for conducting research and scholarship. Over time, we will see if these new approaches to the centuries-old peer-review process add real value.
This new era of electronic publishing is still in its infancy and we have much to learn about how best to make use of the new media and communication tools. The fact that our scholarly publication system remained largely intact with only modest changes for over years through huge advancements in science and technology is a testament to how well it has worked. Our challenge over the next decade will be to adapt the system to this new and very different medium, maintaining the components that continue to work well and finding ways to incorporate innovative approaches to communication and evaluation that build upon the capabilities provided by electronic publication.
David Solomon is an educational psychologist who has worked in medical education for nineteen years. His research has been mainly in the areas of performance assessment, specialty choice, and distance learning.
In he started an electronic journal, Medical Education Online, which has grown to be a well-established journal in the field. His other major interest is promoting open-access publishing. He can be reached at dsolomon msu. References Altman, D. JAMA ; Waeckerle, J. Berlin, and M.
Who reviews the reviewers? Feasibility of using fictitious manuscript to evaluate peer reviewer performance. Annals of Emergency Medicine Systems: Online frontiers of the peer-reviewed literature.
In Nature. Campbell, P. Nature Peer Review Trial and Debate. Chang, A. Online journals challenge scientific peer review. Nature Neuroscience 8; Faxon Institute. Faxon Company. Godlee, F. Making reviewers visible. Openness, accountability and credit. JAMA; Evidence on peer review: scientific quality control or smokescreen? BMJ 2 January. Gotzxche, P. Methodology and overt and hidden bias in reports of double-blinded trials of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in rheumatoid arthritis.
Controlled Clinical Trials, In Oldenburg's long shadow: Librarians, research scientists, publishers, and the control of scientific publishing. Jefferson, T. Alderson, E. Wager, and F. Effects of editorial peer review. JAMA June 5, ; Jefferson, T, E.Quick Contact Review of Peer-review of scholarly journals to a scholar-practitioner As a scholar-practitioner and also for any researcher it is very important importance understand the importance of review review of scholarly journals, scholarly scholarly knowledge is communicated via only academic journals and research conferences that are meant for scholars and academicians. According to the experts, the purpose is to report or publish the original or experimentation that has been conducted by the researchers in order to scholarly available such information to all the scholarly practitioners and researchers who are in the same area of interest. The scholarly journal is important for the practitioners as it would contain citation which gives a basic idea importance published article including title, date, and year of publishing, authors, and the information source. Sometimes we may also get the full journals of the peer review journals, which depends on the access to that particular source, or it could free access which could be read immediately, and the journals would peer provided when the article could be full accessed. Peer behavior Violent behavior is mainly result of problems that arise due st andrews scotland college prowler no essay poor parenting; poor self-esteem, poor criminal conscience building, loss of feeling, rage at the wrong target, messages that are displayed on the TV or due to the influence of parental behavior, etc.
The evidence suggests that anonymity has little impact on the quality of the review or acceptance rates, but revealing the identity of reviewers may lower the likelihood that someone will volunteer to review van Rooyen et al. Gotzxche, P. However, there are important differences.
The fact that our scholarly publication system remained largely intact with only modest changes for over years through huge advancements in science and technology is a testament to how well it has worked.
While tenure decisions were not involved, an important function of that journal was establishing who deserved credit for specific findings or theories. They must also ensure that there are no conflicts of interest involved in the peer review process. The value and worth of any scholarly, peer-reviewed journal rests in the role that the editor and reviewers play as well as the quality and usefulness of the articles that are submitted, accepted and published within the journal—whether it is an on-line journal or one that produces a hard copy. I believe authors appreciate getting all the feedback as well as a clear set of guidelines from the editor for revising their manuscripts. Journals also commonly serve as a forum for news such as new appointments to major positions or the passing of a well-known member of the scholarly community.
It can also be difficult to know how to best organise the platforms used for this purpose to ensure they are manageable and searchable.
Pocock, S. 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. The editor decides if the manuscript should be sent for peer review or be immediately rejected.
They have the potential of doing a significantly better job of balancing the various roles journals play in scientific and scholarly communities. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics uses a two-stage approach that includes public comment Koop and Poschl Second, the journal will be an outlet that is both grounded in academic theory and driven by the needs of academicians, practitioners and the environment in the sport industry.