Why is Peer Review Important?

What is peer review and why is it important? For both authors and the staff of an academic journal, this process might feel like a headache. But it’s very important and worth the wait. Simply, peer review is the process by which scientific, academic, or professional work is checked by others working in the same field. This matters for the work itself, as well as the journal’s reputation. Because authors will often select journals to publish in based on their reputations, it’s important to ensure that there high standards are being maintained.

Especially when it comes to peer review.

This article will cover three reasons why peer review is important. But first, let’s quickly go over what peer review actually is.

What is peer review?

In a nutshell, peer review is when work is evaluated by people (at least one person, but usually more) who are also experts in that same field. The primary aims of peer review are to ensure (and improve) the quality of a manuscript and to provide credibility to the research. While there are some valid criticisms of the peer-review process, it is the best system we currently have. There are many different kinds of peer review (usually depending on the field). Here, we’re referring to academic, or scholarly, peer review. For more information about what peer review is, and how it can be organized, we encourage you to read our article on the subject.

Why is peer review important in evidence-based practice?

The main goal of peer review is to prevent the publication of manuscripts which do not meet a journal’s standards.

Over the years, there have been many cases of “stings” that have been undertaken to find out whether a journal is reputable or not. These stings, while often times humorous because of the content being published, highlighted a very serious and important issue: some journals had very weak standards when it comes to what they published.

There are three important reasons why peer review matters to a journal though:

  1. Why peer review matters for journal standards;
  2. Why peer review is important for the reputation of journals;
  3. Peer review helps maintain the quality of manuscripts.

Why peer review matters for journal standards

Working on a journal means being constantly involved in the process of selecting what will be published in that journal. In order to avoid the impression of favoritism or bias, the review process involves sending a manuscript out for what is known as peer review. Manuscripts are sent out to subject matter experts who will review the work to ensure that it meets certain standards. Questions that are asked during the peer review phase include things like:

  • Is the work novel?
  • Is the work cited properly?
  • Is any information missing?
  • Are the conclusions properly supported?
  • Are there any holes in the way the research was conducted?

By sending your manuscripts for peer review, you are setting your journal up for success by using the expertise of others to help create credibility for your journal.

Keeping track of peer reviewers can be challenging, so we have put together some advice on how to keep yourself organized using JAMS.

Why peer review is important for the reputation of journals

Journals will face hardships when publishing certain manuscripts. To protect your reputation, a robust review process can help. The peer review process will allow you to enlist “bodyguards” for your journal’s reputation. The easiest way to protect your journal is to make sure that you have high standards. When it comes to the peer review process, make sure that you are providing clear expectations for your reviewers.

Finding good peer reviewers is crucial to the reputation of your business. And helping them to provide actionable information to your authors is very valuable. One way to do this is to make sure that you provide a peer reviewer with a basic checklist that they can use while they review a manuscript.

Here are five things that you can put on a checklist for your reviewers:

  1. Summary
  2. Scientific Merit
  3. Quality
  4. Soundness
  5. English

Making sure that you have consistent and clear review reports will help you to maintain standards, and will help your journal’s reputation. let’s look into the specifics in a bit more detail.


A summary will help your peer reviewers organize themselves

A journal can thrive or fail based on its reputation. You want the manuscripts that you publish to be built on a foundation of rigorous review. Summaries help your reviewers keep track of any outstanding issues that might need addressing.

Scientific merit

Many papers are well organized, clearly explained, well put together, and well written. But they might also not be ideal for publication. One of the important things that a journal might want to keep in mind when putting together a checklist for a reviewer is if the paper has any scientific merit. This is to say, “is the paper worth publishing?” Sometimes a manuscript might be too similar to another paper. Other times, the results might be interesting but not add much value to the community.

Keeping scientific merit in mind is a good way to determine if a paper is worth publishing.


Quality is a very important thing to keep track of. And the vast majority of peer reviewers will already have in mind. This can be in reference to a number of different things, ranging from the quality of the sources, the quality of the test results, and even the quality of the writing. A poorly explained paper might not be useful, and test results that are determined using poor tests will result in lesser quality.

Make sure that you include a note for your peer reviewers to keep this in mind.


Simply put, soundness relates to the motivations behind the research. These motivations can influence whether arguments are valid. Maybe you started a research project to explain why water was dry. There is already a problem with the soundness of this research. It is starting from an incorrect foundation. Soundness can unfortunately be an issue if research is being done with financial considerations being controlling factors.

That is, research about how “smoking is healthy” funded by a tobacco company is not sound.


Many times, the quality of English can impact whether a paper is published. While people are focused on the technical results, they sometimes ignore the way those results are communicated.

The level of English used in a paper can be a factor that results in it being rejected. To help with this, we’ve put together some quick and simple tips to check a manuscript. However, it is important that the review process help to determine if a paper’s quality is good but the English needs work. Occasionaly, a paper is worth accepting (as soon as it gets some attention from an English editor). So, the peer reviewer can give you an indication of this.

Peer review helps maintain the quality of manuscripts

It is worth discussing the topic of quality in detail. Especially in how it relates to the quality of the manuscripts you publish. The points listed above (summary, scientific merit, quality, soundness, and English) are all elements that contribute to a high quality of publication. But the importance of high-quality manuscripts goes deeper than just “publishing something good”. What you publish will result in a positive or negative reputation for your journal. The weaker the quality, the more negative the perception. As journals succeed or fail depending on their reputations, you need to make sure that manuscripts are of the highest quality possible.

Not all peer review is the same. Sometimes, journals use different types of review depending on their goals. Sooner or later, you will need to know what your journal needs.

Setting your journal up for success

Make sure that you and your staff know what tools you need to use. As soon as they have clear guidance on your journals needs, you will start to see results.

To this end, JAMS can help. First, let us know what your needs are and we can help you to achieve your goals.

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