Peer Review in 2015 – a global view

In its latest White Paper, academic publisher Taylor and Francis gathers opinions about the peer review process from those who publish research papers and those who review, edit and publish them.

Over 7000 people from around the world responded to the questionnaire while six focus groups were also held.  Some respondents were authors, but the majority has experience of and were responding as both authors and reviewers. The findings were also analysed by two broad topic areas – Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and Science, Technology and Medicine (STM).

Key findings

  • Researchers are motivated to publish in peer reviewed journals by sharing their research and contributing to the field.
  • Researchers value the peer review process.  Most respondents agreed that peer review greatly helps scholarly communication by testing the academic rigour of outputs. The majority also reported that they felt the peer review process had improved the quality of their own most recent published article. 
  • Reviewers are motivated by playing a role in the academic community – and by the opportunity to improve papers.

Real world vs. Ideal world

The report highlights the gap between the perceived value and benefits of the peer review process and the real world experiences of those involved.  Ideally, the reviewers should be:

  • Checking for factual accuracy
  • Correcting spelling and grammar
  • Detecting plagiarism
  • Judging novelty of manuscript
  • Highlighting omissions in the content
  • Providing polite feedback

Astonishingly for HSS people, the biggest gap between real and ideal world performance was in the provision of polite feedback.

Another reality gap is in the amount of time taken by the review process.  Reviewers and editors agree that 15-30 days is a reasonable timeframe in which to provide feedback.  However, the vast majority of authors (85% HSS; 73% STM) are waiting longer than this.

The full white paper is available for download via the publisher’s website.

Source: Taylor and Francis