Who Is (Likely) Peer-Reviewing Your Papers? A Partial Insight into the World’s Top Reviewers

Authors : Francesco Pomponi, Bernardino D’Amico, Tom Rye

Scientific publishing is experiencing unprecedented growth in terms of outputs across all fields. Inevitably this creates pressure throughout the system on a number of entities.

One key element is represented by peer-reviewers, whose demand increases at an even higher pace than that of publications, since more than one reviewer per paper is needed and not all papers that get reviewed get published.

The relatively recent Publons platform allows for unprecedented insight into the usual ‘blindness’ of the peer-review system. At a time where the world’s top peer-reviewers are announced and celebrated, we have taken a step back in order to attempt a partial mapping of their profiles to identify trends and key dimensions of this community of ‘super-reviewers’.

This commentary focuses necessarily on a limited sample due to manual processing of data, which needs to be done within a single day for the type of information we seek. In investigating the numbers of performed reviews vs. academic citations, our analysis suggests that most reviews are carried out by relatively inexperienced academics.

For some of these early career academics, peer-reviewing seems to be the only activity they engage with, given the high number of reviews performed (e.g., three manuscripts per day) and the lack of outputs (zero academic papers and citations in some cases). Additionally, the world’s top researchers (i.e., highly-cited researchers) are understandably busy with research activities and therefore far less active in peer-reviewing.

Lastly, there seems to be an uneven distribution at a national level between scientific outputs (e.g., publications) and reviews performed. Our analysis contributes to the ongoing global discourse on the health of scientific peer-review, and it raises some important questions for further discussion.

URL : Who Is (Likely) Peer-Reviewing Your Papers? A Partial Insight into the World’s Top Reviewers

URL : https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/7/1/15

Guidelines for open peer review implementation

Authors : Tony Ross-Hellauer, Edit Görögh

Open peer review (OPR) is moving into the mainstream, but it is often poorly understood and surveys of researcher attitudes show important barriers to implementation.

As more journals move to implement and experiment with the myriad of innovations covered by this term, there is a clear need for best practice guidelines to guide implementation.

This brief article aims to address this knowledge gap, reporting work based on an interactive stakeholder workshop to create best-practice guidelines for editors and journals who wish to transition to OPR.

Although the advice is aimed mainly at editors and publishers of scientific journals, since this is the area in which OPR is at its most mature, many of the principles may also be applicable for the implementation of OPR in other areas (e.g., books, conference submissions).

URL : Guidelines for open peer review implementation

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0063-9

Peer Review Bias: A Critical Review

Authors : Samir Haffar, Fateh Bazerbachi, M. Hassan Murad

Various types of bias and confounding have been described in the biomedical literature that can affect a study before, during, or after the intervention has been delivered.

The peer review process can also introduce bias. A compelling ethical and moral rationale necessitates improving the peer review process. A double-blind peer review system is supported on equipoise and fair-play principles.

Triple- and quadruple-blind systems have also been described but are not commonly used. The open peer review system introduces “Skin in the Game” heuristic principles for both authors and reviewers and has a small favorable effect on the quality of published reports.

In this exposition, we present, on the basis of a comprehensive literature search of PubMed from its inception until October 20, 2017, various possible mechanisms by which the peer review process can distort research results, and we discuss the evidence supporting different strategies that may mitigate this bias.

It is time to improve the quality, transparency, and accountability of the peer review system.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.09.004

The effect of publishing peer review reports on referee behavior in five scholarly journals

Authors : Giangiacomo Bravo, Francisco Grimaldo, Emilia López-Iñesta, Bahar Mehmani, Flaminio Squazzoni

To increase transparency in science, some scholarly journals are publishing peer review reports. But it is unclear how this practice affects the peer review process. Here, we examine the effect of publishing peer review reports on referee behavior in five scholarly journals involved in a pilot study at Elsevier.

By considering 9,220 submissions and 18,525 reviews from 2010 to 2017, we measured changes both before and during the pilot and found that publishing reports did not significantly compromise referees’ willingness to review, recommendations, or turn-around times.

Younger and non-academic scholars were more willing to accept to review and provided more positive and objective recommendations. Male referees tended to write more constructive reports during the pilot.

Only 8.1% of referees agreed to reveal their identity in the published report. These findings suggest that open peer review does not compromise the process, at least when referees are able to protect their anonymity.

URL : The effect of publishing peer review reports on referee behavior in five scholarly journals

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-08250-2

Peer Review of Reviewers: The Author’s Perspective

Authors : Ivana Drvenica, Giangiacomo Bravo, Lucija Vejmelka, Aleksandar Dekanski, Olgica Nedić

The aim of this study was to investigate the opinion of authors on the overall quality and effectiveness of reviewers’ contributions to reviewed papers. We employed an on-line survey of thirteen journals which publish articles in the field of life, social or technological sciences.

Responses received from 193 authors were analysed using a mixed-effects model in order to determine factors deemed the most important in the authors’ evaluation of the reviewers. Qualitative content analysis of the responses to open questions was performed as well.

The mixed-effects model revealed that the authors’ assessment of the competence of referees strongly depended on the final editorial decision and that the speed of the review process was influential as well.

In Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) analysis on seven questions detailing authors’ opinions, perception of review speed remained a significant predictor of the assessment. In addition, both the perceived competence and helpfulness of the reviewers significantly and positively affected the authors’ evaluation.

New models were used to re-check the value of these two factors and it was confirmed that the assessment of the competence of reviewers strongly depended on the final editorial decision.

URL : Peer Review of Reviewers: The Author’s Perspective

Alternative location : https://www.mdpi.com/2304-6775/7/1/1

Automatically Annotating Articles Towards Opening and Reusing Transparent Peer Reviews

Authors : Afshin Sadeghi, Sarven Capadisli, Johannes Wilm, Christoph Lange, Philipp Mayr

An increasing number of scientific publications are created in open and transparent peer review models: a submission is published first, and then reviewers are invited, or a submission is reviewed in a closed environment but then these reviews are published with the final article, or combinations of these.

Reasons for open peer review include giving better credit to reviewers and enabling readers to better appraise the quality of a publication. In most cases, the full, unstructured text of an open review is published next to the full, unstructured text of the article reviewed.

This approach prevents human readers from getting a quick impression of the quality of parts of an article, and it does not easily support secondary exploitation, e.g., for scientometrics on reviews.

While document formats have been proposed for publishing structured articles including reviews, integrated tool support for entire open peer review workflows resulting in such documents is still scarce.

We present AR-Annotator, the Automatic Article and Review Annotator which employs a semantic information model of an article and its reviews, using semantic markup and unique identifiers for all entities of interest.

The fine-grained article structure is not only exposed to authors and reviewers but also preserved in the published version. We publish articles and their reviews in a Linked Data representation and thus maximize their reusability by third-party applications.

We demonstrate this reusability by running quality-related queries against the structured representation of articles and their reviews.

URL : https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.01027

On the value of preprints: an early career researcher perspective

Authors : Sarvenaz Sarabipour​, Humberto J Debat, Edward Emmott, Steven Burgess, Benjamin Schwessinger, Zach Hensel

Peer-reviewed journal publication is the main means for academic researchers in the life sciences to create a permanent, public record of their work. These publications are also the de facto currency for career progress, with a strong link between journal brand recognition and perceived value.

The current peer-review process can lead to long delays between submission and publication, with cycles of rejection, revision and resubmission causing redundant peer review.

This situation creates unique challenges for early career researchers (ECRs), who rely heavily on timely publication of their work to gain recognition for their efforts. ECRs face changes in the academic landscape including the increased interdisciplinarity of life sciences research, expansion of the researcher population and consequent shifts in employer and funding demands.

The publication of preprints, publicly available scientific manuscripts posted on dedicated preprint servers prior to journal managed peer-review, can play a key role in addressing these ECR challenges.

Preprinting benefits include rapid dissemination of academic work, open access, establishing priority or concurrence, receiving feedback and facilitating collaborations. While there is a growing appreciation for and adoption of preprints, a minority of all articles in life sciences and medicine are preprinted.

The current low rate of preprint submissions in life sciences and ECR concerns regarding preprinting needs to be addressed.

We provide a perspective from an interdisciplinary group of early career researchers on the value of preprints and advocate the wide adoption of preprints to advance knowledge and facilitate career development.

URL : On the value of preprints: an early career researcher perspective

DOI : https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27400v1