Monday, April 13, 2015

Reviewing Manuscripts

On the current home page for BioMed Central blog is an article about peer review. I have had an opportunity to provide hundreds of peer reviews for submitted manuscripts over the course of my career, and I enjoy providing them, while understanding that they take time and a certain amount of skill. But I also know that it is a human process, so it is imperfect and subject to idiosyncrasy.  The blog post here (  rises a number of critical issues.

The first issue relates to training. Should those who provide peer review have some sort of training to do so? This is important, because the quality and depth of peer review ranges a great deal. Consider that at ACC-RAC there may be 200 reviewers involved in vetting the papers that have been submitted. None have any training whatsoever. Certainly, some reviewers will be scientists who have themselves undergone peer review, and may also offer same to various journals, but they will provide their reviews based on the own perceptions about how in-depth they should be, etc. And many others have never done reviewing at all. It does seem that it would be beneficial to provide a base level of training so that individuals would know about how deep to go into their review, would understand they do not need to comment on or correct editing errors (after all, that is what an editor is for), and would be trained to keep comments impersonal. The use of a mentor might help here.
Second, journals could provide checklists for reviewers to use.  And journals could offer some sort of accreditation process for those who review. They could open up the review process (that is, they could publish the reviewers’ comments along with the paper).

And reviewers should be acknowledged for the work they do. I would publish an annual thank you to reviewers, when I edited JMPT. It takes time and is done free, and it is a valuable service. I hope that you will find such opportunities to provide such a service.

No comments: