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ResourcesResearch IntegrityPeer Review – Authors and Reviewers – our “North Star” – Scholarly Kitchen (Robert Harington | May 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Peer Review – Authors and Reviewers – our “North Star” – Scholarly Kitchen (Robert Harington | May 2018)

Published/Released on May 16, 2018 | Posted by Admin on July 23, 2018 / , , , , ,

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Ask a researcher what matters most to them in their work, and effective peer review will always be among their top three. At the recent STM conference in Philadelphia, Judy Verses, Senior Vice President, Research at Wiley, clearly articulated a vision for publishers. She focused on the need for publishers to recognize who we are in business to serve. She exhorted us to consider the researcher as our “North Star”, and that everything we do be directed to serve their needs. Publishers recognize that peer review is a paramount concern for researchers, and yet have not addressed some of the key concerns that authors and reviewers face. In this post, I suggest that publishers need to do more for researchers to help authors, and to help reviewers understand their role as a reviewer and be recognized for their work. We need to focus on our “North Star”.

Perhaps a good place to start is to ask the question, why is peer review so important to a researcher? Peer review is a key mechanism for ensuring rigor and establishing community standards on quality. Peer review in itself does not merely exist to filter good papers from bad. Peer review is a valuable service researchers provide on behalf of other researchers that allows for possible improvement of a paper. Peer review that leads to rejection is still valuable for the insights provided to an author. The ecosystem of review, in other words, allows the community to discuss research, and depending on the model (something we will get into later), allows for opinions to be shared without judgement or fear of retribution. A reviewer who participates in peer review gains mightily from this ecosystem, participating in the evolution of the research itself, playing role in encouraging the career path of their colleagues, and stimulating their own development in their field.

A reviewer will tell you though that their role can sometimes be quite confusing, and — depending on the expectations put upon a reviewer and how their work is treated — may decide not to participate in the review process. Publishers can do better here. Journals vary in their expectations for a reviewer. A journal that is perceived to be of high quality will likely expect its reviewers to take a much tougher approach than a journal that is looking for good research, but is not as selective. Publishers and Journal editors would do well to think about how to guide their reviewers. A reviewer may well take an entirely different approach depending on the level of review required. What would be wonderful is if a journal articulated expectations to reviewers, perhaps even providing a series of parameters and types of question a reviewer could tackle when acting as a reviewer for their journal.

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