Peer Review Process
Academic publishing is based on a quality assurance process involving scholarly peers with suitable knowledge and expertise on the research topic of a research paper.
The peer review process is typically international as academic journals of quality have access to wide networks of experts in their field of research around the world. This expert-based model covers a review of research integrity, content originality and clarity of communication by the most knowledgeable specialist in the research area.
In principal, peer review should be impartial and objective. However, to adhere to this key concept, journals can choose between peer review models leaning towards preventing bias (double or single blind peer review) or prioritising transparency (open review). In the area of online publication, some Open Access journals even allow post-publication reader reviews as a reflection of the wider impact of a new research publication.
While each individual academic journal or publisher can determine its own rules around peer review, it is expected to be transparent about its approach to peer review and provide insight into the process in the journals' guidelines to authors for manuscript submission.
It is not uncommon for journals to have a tiered review process in place, where an upfront screening of manuscripts identifies those manuscripts not suitable for further consideration. These submissions are then immediately rejected by the Editor in Chief or Editors associated with the journal. Note that most often these editors are research experts within the scope of the journal and therefore suitable to take part in this initial review.
As much as an initial reject is disappointing, credible journals will provide a quick turn-around of this decision, including constructive feedback, so that the authors can move on, possibly improve the manuscript and submit elsewhere.
What is generally understood as the official Peer Review process is the next step where the journal invites external experts, not formally affiliated with the journals as an editor, to assess the manuscript on its merits. Besides quality, comprehensiveness and timeliness, the focus will also include credibility and ethical integrity. Reputable journals strictly adhere to publication ethics guidelines set out by internationally recognised organisations like the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Participation in Peer Review
Participation in Peer Review
Good peer review relies heavily on academic experts, and researchers who publish in peer-reviewed journals should consider participation by themselves in the peer review of manuscripts by others.
There are benefits in terms of opportunities to gain wider knowledge or start collaborative research initiatives. Involvement in peer review activities also adds to a researcher's track record. Nowadays sophisticated online platforms, like Publons, can serve as digital records to ensure recognition for peer review activities. Many journals support giving credit to their peer reviewers by linking your peer review activities to a Publons account for you upon approval. Depending on the journals peer review model, this information can vary between a mention of journal name and date of your activity to storing the peer review report in your Publons account.
Learn more about peer review in a short video series via the Wiley Exchanges blog: