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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Opening up peer review – Science (Editorial – August 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 17, 2018

A transparent process to publish referees’ reports could benefit science, but not all researchers want their assessments made available.

When Nature asks experts to review manuscripts for possible publication, we promise that the reports they send back will be kept confidential. But should we? This week we publish a Comment article that comes with a provocative challenge: more journal editors should commit to publishing peer-review reports. Doing so, the authors argue, benefits science. It puts published work in useful context and helps junior scientists to understand how review works.

Nature and the Nature research journals have long welcomed suggestions to make peer review work better for the communities we serve. In 2016, Nature Communications started to publish referee reports — with names removed — as long as the authors of the papers agreed.

The reaction has been instructive. For one, it demonstrated that authors in specific fields of the life sciences are more likely to welcome such openness. Take-up from those in other disciplines, including many in the physical sciences, has been much slower. In fact, Nature Communications lost several reliable reviewers in chemistry when the referees were told their unsigned reviews would be made public if the author opted for it. They resented not having a say in the process, and felt that their reports would have little value outside the small intended audience.

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Gender and Regional Diversity In Peer Review – The Wiley Network (Lou Peck | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 17, 2018

In keeping with the theme of Diversity in Peer Review, for this year’s Peer Review Week we’re taking a closer look at two recent studies on the topic. These articles are freely available

What influences the regional diversity of reviewers: A study of medical and agricultural/biological sciences journals

This 2018 Learned Publishing article discusses the geographical imbalance of reviewers discovered during research in medicine and agricultural and biological sciences. They found that:

  • there was a correlation between the reviewer location and the country and region of the EditorChief and that of the corresponding author.
  • reviewers were more likely to accept invitations to review articles when the corresponding author was from their region and were more likely to be positive about such articles.

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Addressing the Regional Diversity of Reviewers – The Wiley Network (Thomas Gaston | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 17, 2018

There is a present imbalance in the regional distribution of the burden of peer review. The regional distribution of reviewers (or, more specifically, of those invited to review) does not mirror the regional distribution of submitting authors. This is the conclusion of multiple studies (Kovanis, 2016 and Mulligan and van Rossum, 2014), including a study conducted by Wiley in 2016 (Warne, 2016). This research found that uneven burden upon researchers from the USA, providing 33-34% of the reviewers and 22-24% of the submissions.

One might argue that this is not an issue. Editors are under no obligation to ensure an even geographic distribution of those they invite to review. The primary consideration for editors, when selecting reviewers, must be choosing individuals whose expertise is appropriate to the manuscript under consideration. However, there are reasons for seeing the present imbalance as a problem. The burden of peer review is currently borne by a small pool of reviewers, leading to increased difficulty for editors in finding available reviewers (Sipior, 2018). Furthermore, there is an inherent advantage in having a diverse reviewer pool to counter tendencies toward group-think and bias.

Why This Imbalance?

We wanted to understand why there is this regional imbalance. Non-US researchers are willing to review (Mulligan and van Rossum, 2014); the problem seems to be that they are not being invited. We wanted to investigate the factors involved in the reviewers being invited and agreeing to review. Our hypothesis was that there would be a correlation between the location of the editor-in-chief (EiC) and the location of the reviewer. We also wanted to look at other potential factors, including the location of the author, the ranking of the journal, the size of the journal, and the apparent difficulty the journal had in obtaining reviews.

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Ask The Chefs: How Would You Ensure Diversity In Peer Review? – Scholarly Kitchen (Ann Michael | September 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on September 12, 2018

Next week is Peer Review Week 2018. Asking the Chefs a peer review question has become a bit of a tradition for us. In 2016 we asked: What is the future of peer review? Last year we contemplated: Should peer review change?

This year the theme is diversity in peer review. So we’ve asked the Chefs: How would you ensure diversity in peer review?

Lisa Hinchliffe: Given I have served as a journal editor multiple times in my career, allow me to respond to this question from that perspective. First, you must have a commitment to diversity in peer review as a non-negotiable facet of your process and investing the time and effort needed in order achieve your goal of diversity. Second, you must do the work to identify a diverse reviewer corps and solicit the commitment of reviewers who you wish to be part of your team. Third, you must ensure that the experience of serving as a peer reviewer is a positive experience. You may need to do additional outreach and offer additional support to overcome the impact of reviewers’ past negative experiences as a peer reviewer. Fourth, you must check your own biases and privileges when you review the assessments submitted by the peer reviewers and not discount the feedback and evaluations submitted from the diversity of perspectives you have recruited. Fifth, you must ensure that peer reviewers receive recognition for their labor in ways that are valued in the performance review (tenure/promotion) schemes under which they are evaluated. No one owes their diversity to our peer review processes but many are willing. It is our responsibility as editors to invite, recognize, and reward them.

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