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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

We need to relearn how to play nice in peer review – UA/AU (Daniel Harris | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 16, 2019
 

By changing the way we discuss scholarly work, we will not only improve scholarship but also reduce the unnecessary hostility rampant in academia.

Academia has emerged as an unassuming minefield of mental health hazards. Examples from the scholarly and lay literatures detail rampant depression, anxiety and panic symptoms among academics, especially graduate students. A recent study of over 3,000 PhD students in Belgium revealed that 32 percent were at risk of having or developing a psychiatric disorder. It was also found that compared to a highly educated general population, PhD students had 3.5 times the risk of lost self-confidence and 3.4 times the risk of feeling worthless. Family-work conflicts and a culture of closed decision-making were among the strongest independent predictors of psychiatric distress among participants.

A recent example from the news media described “the silencing effect of academia” and the “need to be thick-skinned” to progress successfully as an academic. Despite the concerning severity and omnipresence of anxiety experienced by the author and the author’s peers, a culture of silence reigned. Nature also published a series of testimonials written by doctoral students and researchers describing their experiences with mental health and suggestions to drive culture change. Establishing support systems, broadening career prospects, and accessing professional mental health services, were among the many suggestions to remain resilient in a viciously competitive, and at times, distressingly lonely work environment. As a PhD student in epidemiology, my lay review of these articles forced me to consider my own journey as a researcher and graduate student in public health.

Like most graduate students, I suffer from imposter syndrome. As such, I obsess about the quality of my work – afraid, at best, to disappoint my department and mentor, and at worst, to have my name blacklisted among the community of public health researchers. While my obsessive tendencies are arguably adaptive, they nonetheless hinder my quality of life and have questionable long-term sustainability. Therefore, like the scientist I am, I went searching for possible etiological explanations for my worsening anxiety. Paradoxically, I discovered that I frequently contribute to the very academic culture causing my own mental health challenges: the unnecessary and unacademic belittling of peer-reviewed work.

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Rare trial of open peer review allays common concerns – Nature (Dalmeet Singh Chawla | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 6, 2019
 

Study suggests that making reviewers’ reports freely readable doesn’t compromise peer-review process.

These study results are indeed surprising and welcome for proponents for open science, but we agree with Dalmeet’s concluding comments: Publishers (and research institutions) need to do more to encourage peer review and to recognise the contribution made by peer reviewers.

A rare analysis of open peer review — in which reviews are posted alongside published papers — has overturned some common conceptions about the practice: notably, that it doesn’t put the reviewers off or affect their recommendations on whether to accept a paper.
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The analysis, published on 18 January in Nature Communications1, also indicates that open reviewers mostly prefer to remain anonymous, and that they don’t take any longer to complete reviews than in the conventional process.
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“I think the case for publishing peer reviews is quite clear in terms of transparency and accountability,” says Tony Ross-Hellauer, an information scientist at the Graz University of Technology in Austria who conducted a 2017 survey about open peer review. “In terms of clearing away some doubts about publishing peer reviews, I think this study is really good news.”
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Tips for negotiating the peer-reviewed journal publication process as an early-career researcher – LSE Impact Blog (Margaret K. Merga, et al | November 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on February 13, 2019
 

Early-career researchers are subject to higher levels of scrutiny than ever before, with publication in academic journals essential to how they are funded and evaluated, and how their careers will be built. Margaret K. Merga, Shannon Mason and Julia E. Morris share insights from their own experiences of navigating the journal submission and publication process as ECRs, emphasising the importance of being strategic about journal selection, understanding which suggested revisions will actually improve a paper, and knowing what is the right moment to contact the editor for guidance.

This LSE Impact Blog piece provides another set of valuable tips for ECRs, in areas that are often not addressed by institutional professional development.  We have included a collection of other related handy items.

Publishing in quality peer-reviewed journals is essential for early-career researchers (ECRs), due to their need to build a track record and expertise in their field. ECRs are subject to higher levels of scrutiny than ever before, with our contributions quantified through performance measurement indicators which may fail to adequately capture their scope, the efforts applied, and our stage in career. As contended by Hyland, publication is essential “because it is through publication that knowledge is constructed, academics are evaluated, universities are funded, and careers are built, and each year its influence becomes ever more intrusive and demanding”. As ECRs, we are particularly vulnerable to this imperative, as many of us have yet to secure tenure, so we may lack the job security of our more-established senior colleagues.
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The knowledge and skills needed to write an academic journal article for publication and then to successfully negotiate the peer review process are complex and unique. Many ECRs will have experienced inadequate training and mentoring in this area.
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A Beginner’s Guide to the Peer Review System – GradHacker (Carolyn Trietsch | January 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 10, 2019
 

Thinking through the Peer Review system, especially for first time writers.

I was thrilled to receive my first request to peer review a paper while working on my Ph.D. Then I realized I didn’t know how to peer review. It had never been covered in my classes, so I started asking around and sending emails, reaching out to my friends in other programs, but with little luck. As important as peer review is, it seems that few STEM programs actively teach students about how to navigate the peer review process and make the decisions involved, such as whether to accept or reject a paper for publication.

Fortunately, this is why we have mentors. I set up a meeting with a veteran peer reviewer and journal editor who was kind enough to spend an afternoon answering my questions and sharing important takeaways gleaned over years of experience. I realized that others could benefit from this advice, and I put together the following post from our discussion (with permission, of course, though my mentor wished to remain anonymous).

Here is some guidance for students, early career professionals and others who are new to the peer review system:

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