Module 7: Managing the Peer Review Process

Summary

It is important for a journal editor to understand the critical engagement and the checks and balances that help to determine the credibility of new knowledge. This unit shows how a journal editor relies on effective peer review processes to uphold not only the quality and validity of individual articles, but also the overall integrity of the journals they publish. The unit also equips editors to manage the peer review process efficiently.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Understand the criteria for selecting reviewers
  • Be able to improve their peer review process
  • Ensure that the highest quality reviews possible are obtained
  • Be able to support reviewers to do their work well

Introduction

As an editor of a scholarly journal, there are some people you cannot do without – peer reviewers. Experienced editors know they cannot be an expert in all topics submitted to the journals and this is where the peer reviewers come in. As volunteers for journals, peer reviewers play an important role, as experts in their fields, to advise the editor as to what is good or not good about a submitted article.

Peer review in scholarly journals has always been regarded as crucial to the reputation and reliability of research. In its simplest form, peer review allows experts to evaluate a manuscript and assist editors in deciding if a submitted manuscript to a journal meets the standard of rigor for publication. It is an expert advice system to help editors effectively determine the value of submitted manuscripts and to recommend how they might be improved.

Good peer reviewers, whose work is rarely paid for, help in determining whether a manuscript is well researched and accurate. Receiving the support of one’s peers and colleagues helps establish credibility. Peer review helps to make journals a reliable source of new information and discoveries for other researchers to investigate or build on. The research community can only take a new contribution seriously when the paper has been thoroughly reviewed.

Peer review serves two key functions:

  1. Acts as a filter: Ensuring research is properly verified and is scientifically valid, coherent and readable, and appropriate for a particular journal before being published
  2. Improves the quality of the research: Rigorous review by other experts helps to hone key points and correct inadvertent errors

Given the importance of peer review, it is important for editors to understand what a good peer review process involves, so they can work towards establishing their own rigourous practice.

Units

Further Reading

A UK organization, Sense about Science, published a general handbook for early career scientists called: Peer Review: The Nuts and Bolts.

Do you think it provides a useful overview of peer review? Is there anything that you learned from this which might help you manage the peer review process of your journal more efficiently and effectively?

One Comment on "Module 7: Managing the Peer Review Process"

  1. Profile photo of Greg Chan Greg Chan says:

    Peer Review: The Nuts and Bolts is an outstanding resource for early-career researchers and OA editors alike. The handbook’s use of testimonials from academics occupying the roles in the publication process–authors, reviewers, and editors–is the standout feature for me. While much of what they say is common sense, it is instructive to learn from their first-hand experiences.

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