D.J. McPhee
20 November 2023
Posted inPeer Review Post authorD.J. McPhee

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is, simply put, the process by which scientific, academic, or professional work is checked by others working in the same field. This review is often provided to the authors of an academic manuscript, research paper, etc., in the form of a peer review report.

Peer review reports are critically important to academic publishing. They are one of the most important guardrails to ensure the validity and importance of research.

Why is peer review important?

Peer review is not just important for authors, it is vital for the academic community as a whole.

“Why?” you might ask yourself.

Because beyond seeing if research is captivating, information such as the novelty, objectives, research questions, and methods can be deeply important to members of the community.

Research is built on research, but that foundation needs to be stable. As a publisher, understanding what peer review is and why it matters is crucial.

How are peer review reports done?

Unfortunately, there is no “standard” report. Journals often have recommendations that they provide to peer reviewers, these all tend to be more journal-specific than anything else. Sometimes one reviewer might focus on the methods of an experiment, but another chooses to focus on the way experimental results are communicated.

A lack of standards means that interpreting results can be challenging, for both the authors of a paper, as well as the journal.

How do you choose good peer reviewers?

Finding qualified individuals is not always challenging. Finding qualified individuals who have the time, and are willing to review a manuscript for you is.

In these situations, one of the most important tools at the disposal of a journal is to have impeccable records.

Keeping track of who you have invited, how often you have invited them, and what their specific area of expertise is can be vitally important. Even the most helpful peer reviewer can get annoyed if they receive weekly requests to review manuscripts that are outside of their scope of knowledge.

Careful research and a good tracking system are a must. To learn more about selecting good peer reviewers, we’ve put a guide together for you.

How can you improve your process?

There are lots of different ways to write a peer review report, but in order to make the process easier for the peer reviewer and the authors of the work, make sure you establish clear guidelines. In this respect, a clear peer review pipeline can help to accomplish those goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But, make sure that you provide your peer reviewers with a list of specific things to look for. Your peer reviewers will be happy to have the guidance, and the authors will appreciate the clarity. Remember, in the end these reports should aim to help authors to improve their manuscripts.

Three things that can help improve peer reviewer reports

There are many different pieces of advice that you can look at when writing a report. Here, we’ll take a brief look at three things that can help:

  1. Be concise;
  2. Compare to the literature;
  3. Include line numbers.

Let’s review in more depth.

Be concise

Peer reviewers and the authors of the works they are reading don’t always have a lot of time. Communicate information clearly and simply—it’s very important.

Compare to the literature

Peer reviewers should be experts in their fields, so they will probably know more than the journal staff about what the current state of the field is. Make sure you request that peer reviewers reference the literature if they are able to. Generally speaking, this is something that they will already do.

Include line numbers

While this might seem like a small thing, providing authors with the exact line that needs to be addressed will save them a significant amount of searching. Related to this, it’s important to ensure that journals provide copies of the research with line numbers so that peer reviewers do not need to turn this on themselves.

Different kinds of peer review

Open or double blind? It’s important to remember that not all peer review processes are the same. Knowing which peer review method you’ll be using for your journal will help you to make the best choices for both the authors and your journal.

Remember, at the end of the day, the goal of peer review is to ensure that there is integrity in the review process. Increasing accountability means a better process and results for everyone.

Make sure that you carefully consider which type of review works best for your journals. Don’t forget to make sure that you’re establishing a peer review process with clear guidelines. Organization and the peer review process go hand-in-hand.

Open peer review

The open peer review process is often considered to be the most transparent of the peer review types. In this system, both the authors and the reviewers are both known. This allows transparency in the process, as it is easy to see if a reviewer works with the authors of a paper (for example). This ensures that all the information is out in the open.

Single blind peer review

In the single blind reviewer process, the identity of the peer reviewer is hidden from the authors. This allows them to review the work without worrying about bias. A problem that can exist here is if the journal staff are not diligent. They may ask friends of the authors to review the work. There could be bias here, so it’s important to be careful.

Double blind peer review

In this case, the identities of the reviewers and the authors are all masked. This makes sure that there is no evident bias in any of the peer review processes. Often considered one of the best systems, it provides the most anonymity. Be careful though, as authors can still be identified via citations, for example. Journal staff should always be diligent. A double-blind process is not an excuse to let standards slip.

Knowing the different systems, training staff, and making sure standards are high are excellent ways to make sure your journal is working towards a good reputation.

Success in publishing

Armed with this knowledge, you can now start to make important decisions for your journal. Knowing which system you need will help you to plan out your strategy and training. But if you need help in organizing your processes and procedures, let JAMS help. We can help you to make the most of your time. Contact us for more information today.

D.J. McPhee
20 November 2023
Posted inPeer Review
Post author D.J. McPhee
Writing a Peer Review Report
Creating a Peer Review Pipeline
Choosing Good Peer Reviewers
Why is Peer Review Important?