Role of peer review in research and scientific publishing

Role of peer review in publishing
Peer/Peer Review/Scientific/Research/Author Assists/Publishing

Role of peer review in research and scientific publishing

Peer review meaning  

For a scholarly or scientific-research article to be accepted by the academic community, the article has to go through a quality test of approval, and this test is known as peer review. Peer review is a process or an exercise of evaluating and assessing written scientific, academic, or professional work (manuscript or a draft) by other experts from the same field. It is the principle process by which the source of information/fact is deduced. The primary purpose of peer review is to ensure that only high-quality research is published.

When a journal editor receives a submitted article, he/she decides if the article is suitable for publishing, based on which the article is then sent for a quality test to a group of experts called peer reviewers, also known as referees. Hence, the terms “peer-reviewed article” or “referee- reviewed articles.”

A peer reviewer determines the validity, significance, and novelty of a research study. The peer review subjects the scholarly work to scrutiny as to certify and validate sources, facts, adherence to scientific/academic standards, and methodology, as well as determining whether the research is in sync with the relevance and scope of the journal. After a thorough evaluation of the draft, the peer reviewers send their recommendations to the editor who decides whether the article should be rejected or approved for publication. After the draft is selected for publication, a list of revisions and improvements to be made is then sent to the author to produce a final copy of the draft. Subsequent to the author sending the final copy of the draft with the improvements implemented, the draft is sent for another round of review after which the editor approves it for publication.

The purpose of peer review is not to demonstrate the reviewer’s proficiency in identifying inadequacies and flaws. Rather, the reviewer is expected to respect the intellectual dependency of the author and carries out the peer review to identify the strengths and merits of the study and provides constructive feedbacks that are not denigrating to the author. The purpose is to help the author identify and rectify the weaknesses and shortcomings found in his work.  This ethic is maintained to achieve a progressive harmony and culture in the scholarly community.

Role and responsibility of a peer reviewer’s towards author
  • a. Provide equitable, neutrally-written, and constructive feedback on the scholarly merits and scientific value of the draft, supported with documented basis for the reviewer’s opinion.
  • b. Specify whether the written document is clear, concise, and relevant to the scientific/academic community. Rate the work of the author based on composition, scientific accuracy, and novelty. Negative aspects can be demonstrated constructively by indicating the improvements clearly.
  • c. Avoid giving denigrating remarks and personal comments. Provide support for their judgments and disagreements as a reference for the author to ensure the judgment made by the reviewer is noteworthy and reliable.
  • d. Maintain confidentiality by way of non-disclosure of information or the review process to any third party other than the editor.
Role and responsibility towards readers/community
  • a. Ensure the methods and analyses are accurate and adequately presented that can help readers to evaluate the merit and scientific significance of the draft and utilize the draft for reference in any research study and replicate its structure for drafting manuscripts.
  • b. Make sure that the draft accurately represents other scientific works established by other scientists.
  • c. Ensure the draft produced has enough value and credibility to be used in an academic debate to support an argument or idea.
Is peer review anonymous?

Peer review has been established as an anonymous review process between the author and reviewer with the purpose of demonstrating and achieving an unbiased assessment of the draft and non-interference between parties. On most occasions, peer review is a confidential process; however, in the information age, specific areas like biochemistry have made peer review an open access, known as “open peer-review.”

However, for most peer-reviewed journals and areas related to scholarly writing, peer review is still widely practiced by keeping confidentiality and anonymity as the preferred mode for carrying out the review process.

Are peer-reviewed articles better?

The simple answer is “yes.” Without a doubt, peer-reviewed articles are more reliable than  articles that have not undergone the peer review process. This is because peer review is what confirms that the published article carries scientific value and relevance to its targeted audience and scholarly community. It makes sure that the article is of considerable importance and can be referred to while carrying out research related projects and studies.

Why peer review is important?

As the number of scientific articles published annually continues to increase, peer review has been the deciding factor in determining the reputation and credibility of the journal. Owing to the fact that editors cannot fully ensure that the material is free from statistical and scientific inaccuracies. Top journals heavily rely on peer reviewers to strengthen the revision process before publishing. In addition, peer review helps to create a research-based archive within the scholarly community as journals maintain a database of published articles. The database consists of materials that have scientific value and relevance to the scientific and scholarly community.

The value and credibility of academic publishing communities and journals depend on the significance and reliability of the manuscripts being published. Also, there is no other existing method or process that works better to guarantee if a manuscript is worthy of being published. For this reason, peer review is crucial because it is the principle procedure needed to make the process of academic publishing efficacious.

How long does the peer review process take?

The time taken to review a paper depends on the journal. Some top journals receive a humongous amount of material for publishing on a daily basis, of which more than 90% of the submissions are rejected before they go for a peer review. The ones that gets sent for revision to a referee which consists of several experts, which is why the time taken to review a manuscript by each referee will determine the time taken for the review process to complete.

Thus, peer review can be a long-drawn process, and in some cases, the revision can even take up to 18 months. To curtail the time taken and ensure uncompromised quality at the same time, multiple reviewers are solicited to appraise a manuscript, thus minimizing the chances of miscalculations as well as making the process efficient and timely. With regard to matters related to contradictions or disagreements between the peers concerning the merits of the work, an auxiliary is assigned to review and give a final evaluation. However, the journal editor is the final decision-maker who can approve the draft for publishing. All these factors are time-consuming. For this reason, in cases related with prestigious journals, some manuscripts can take up to even two years before they are published.

How to peer review an article?

1. Professionalism

While peer reviewing, utmost professionalism and an unbiased attitude are to be maintained, avoiding subjectivity and personal determinism. Peer review is a correlative responsibility between professionals, scholars, and scientists, with the aim to offer their expertise in contribution to the community and not self-upliftment.

2. Be practical and straightforward

In the event of receiving manuscript that does not conform to the quality of scientific and academic standards, simply send your recommendation of rejection without probably providing any negative remarks.

3. Avoid taking your time

Peer review is mostly a service that is done voluntarily. However, on accepting to provide your assistance and expertise also brings in the obligation and commitment to make it a top priority.

4. Be scientific

To provide remarks or highlight language and grammar infelicities does not come under the remit of the peer reviewer. Rather, it is the researcher’s responsibility to check the credibility of the research and add scientific knowledge and value required to improve the draft.

5. Be pragmatic

Do not make corrections or provide alterations and improvements that are too ambitious. Setting the bar too high for an article is not realistic, as research is an evolving process and a single article does not determine the entirety of the research.

Conclusion

Passing over or avoiding peer review can undermine the value and significance of a research manuscript. It is of paramount importance as well as a case of a scholar’s reputation that his or her contributions to the scientific and academic community are of value and reliability. Research should be carried out with the intent of contributing to knowledge that is helpful to the scholarly community.

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