Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Peer Review Survey 2009: Preliminary Findings

Date:
September 8, 2009
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Should peer review detect fraud and misconduct? What does it do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do? Will it illuminate good ideas or shut them down? Should reviewers remain anonymous? These questions are raised by one of the largest ever international surveys of authors and reviewers, the Peer Review Survey 2009, whose preliminary findings have just been released.

Should peer review detect fraud and misconduct? What does it do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do? Will it illuminate good ideas or shut them down? Should reviewers remain anonymous?

These questions are raised by one of the largest ever international surveys of authors and reviewers, the Peer Review Survey 2009, whose preliminary findings are released today.

Peer review is fundamental to integration of new research findings. It allows other researchers to analyse findings and society at large to weigh up research claims. It results in 1.3 million learned articles published every year, and it is growing rapidly with the expansion of the global research community. With that growth come new concerns – about getting the next generation of researchers to review in sufficient numbers, about maintaining the system's integrity and whether it can be truly globalised; and also new ideas - about alternative quality measures, technologies to prevent plagiarism, rewarding reviewers and training them.

Sense About Science has promoted understanding of peer review to help people to work out whether research claims have been independently scrutinised. But with all the proposed changes and expansion in research publication, what do researchers think about peer review and its future? To find out, Sense About Science developed the Peer Review Survey 2009, in consultation with editors and publishers and administered with a grant from Elsevier; the survey included some questions from the Peer Review Survey 20073 for comparison, and new questions about future improvements, public awareness and pressures on the system.

Tracey Brown, Managing Director: "The 2007 survey had raised some of the issues. We sought to broaden that, particularly to find out whether the demand for all this free, independent scrutiny from the research community is sustainable, and what the future of quality control is likely to be. It's a matter of public as well as scientific interest."

Preliminary findings include:

1. Playing an active role in the community is top of reasons to review: 90% say they review because they believe they are playing an active role in the community; only 16% say that increasing their chances of having future papers accepted is a reason to review.

2. Researchers want to improve, not replace peer review:

  • 84% believe that without peer review there would be no control in scientific communication, but only a third (32%) think it is the best that can be achieved; 20% of researchers believe that peer review is unsustainable because of too few willing reviewers.
  • 91% say that their last paper was improved through peer review; the discussion was the biggest area of improvement.
  • 73% of reviewers (a sub-group) say that technological advances have made it easier to do a thorough job than 5 years ago. Whilst 86% enjoy reviewing, 56% say there is a lack of guidance on how to review; 68% think formal training would help. On average, reviewers turn down two papers a year.
  • Just 15% of respondents felt that 'formal' peer review could be replaced by usage statistics.
  • 61% of reviewers have rejected an invitation to review an article in the last year, citing lack of expertise as the main reason – this suggests that journals could better identify suitable reviewers.

3. High expectations:

  • 79% or more of researchers think that peer review should identify the best papers, determine their originality and importance, improve those papers and, though lower scoring, also determine whether research is plagiarised or fraudulent.
  • While 43% of respondents thought peer review was too slow, 65% of authors (a further sub-group) reported that they had received a decision on their most recent paper within 3 months.

4. Reviewers want anonymity: 58% would be less likely to review if their signed report was published. 76% favour the double blind system where just the editor knows who the reviewers are.

5. Understanding of peer review: Researchers agree that peer review is well understood by the scientific community but just 30% believe the public understands the term.

6. Papers aren't recognising previous work: 81% think peer review should ensure previous research is acknowledged; 54% think it currently does. This reflects current concerns in the research community.4

7. Detecting plagiarism and fraud might be a noble aim but is not practical: A majority think peer review should detect plagiarism (81%) or fraud (79%) but fewer (38% & 33%) think it is capable of this.

8. Reviewers divided over incentives: Just over half of reviewers think receiving a payment in kind (e.g. subscription) would make them more likely to review; 41% wanted payment for reviewing, but this drops to just 2.5% if the author had to cover the cost. Acknowledgement in the journal is the most popular option.

Comment from Editors

Robert Campbell, Wiley Blackwell Science & Chairman, Publishing Research Consortium: "Most researchers give up time to review papers for no charge. The whole scholarly communication system is dependent on this. Why do they do it? This study helps us to answer the question. And I take heart in the finding that 85% of the around 4000 respondents quite simply do it because they enjoy being able to improve papers. "

Sir Brian Heap, Vice Chairman, European Academies Science Advisory Council: "These latest insights from researchers show why the peer review process continues to be so important - and enjoyable!"

Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Research and Academic Relations, Elsevier: "I'm impressed by the vast amount of responses to the study - it tells us just how engaged the scientific community is with peer review. Not only do they greatly value it, but they have a strong desire to enhance it. Elsevier in partnership with editors, plays an active role in developing peer review, and we are moving forward with initiatives such as Crosscheck, a pan-publisher plagiarism detection tool. We are keen to look at other ways to respond to the views raised in this survey."

Irene Hames, Managing Editor The Plant Journal, Author 'Peer Review and Manuscript Management in Scientific Journals: guidelines for good practice': "It's very important to know what authors and reviewers actually think about the current status of peer review. Too many commentators make broad generalizations that are not evidence based. So I welcome this large-scale survey from Sense About Science. Once again, the importance with which peer review is viewed comes through, with the great majority of researchers believing that without peer review there would be no control in scientific communication. That is not to say there aren't problems - there clearly are, and improvements and innovative solutions are needed. Crucial in this is the need to professionalize this area of activity, which too often is put in the hands of people who may have great academic reputations and research expertise, but no experience of running a peer-review system."

The preliminary results of the survey will be presented at Science Fact or Science Fiction: Should Peer Review Stop Plagiarism, Bias or Fraud? at the British Science Festival, Surrey University on Tuesday 8th September 2009, 10:00am. Tracey Brown of Science About Science, David Adam of The Guardian and Peter Hayward of Lancet Infectious Diseases will debate the challenges of publishing research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Peer Review Survey 2009: Preliminary Findings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908103621.htm>.
Elsevier. (2009, September 8). Peer Review Survey 2009: Preliminary Findings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908103621.htm
Elsevier. "Peer Review Survey 2009: Preliminary Findings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090908103621.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Boeing Ups Outlook on 52% Profit Jump

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) Commercial aircraft deliveries rose seven percent at Boeing, prompting the aerospace company to boost full-year profit guidance- though quarterly revenues missed analyst estimates. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme

AP (July 23, 2014) Six people were indicted Wednesday in an international ring that took over more than 1,000 StubHub users' accounts and fraudulently bought tickets that were then resold. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

9/11 Commission Members Warn of Terror "fatigue" Among American Public

Reuters - US Online Video (July 22, 2014) Ten years after releasing its initial report, members of the 9/11 Commission warn of the "waning sense of urgency" in combating terrorists attacks. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins