Peer review process

The peer review process is a crucial part of scientific research, where experts in a field review and evaluate research before it is published in academic journals. However, there have been concerns about a “peer review crisis” in recent years, particularly in regards to the reproducibility and reliability of published research.

It helps ensure that the research is accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Publication in peer-reviewed journals is an essential step in the scientific process.

Despite the pessimistic conclusion in Jefferson et al.’s abstract – “At present, little empirical evidence is available to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure the quality of biomedical research” –, the two studies included in their systematic review, which aimed to assess “the effects of peer review on study report quality,” clearly demonstrate the positive effects of peer review on the methodological quality and the value of the articles reviewed 1) 2) 3).

However, the publication is not simply the reporting of facts arising from a straightforward analysis thereof. Authors have broad latitude when writing their reports and may be tempted to consciously or unconsciously “spin” their study findings.

Peer review is a remarkable process that relies on the trust and quality of the peer reviewers ensuring that published research is valid, significant, and original. The reviewer can detect bias, unsatisfactory design, and ethical problems in the study that may threaten the research, and he or she provides feedback to the authors to improve the manuscript. An appropriate review takes time because many things must be considered. The structure of the critical review presented allows one to weigh all the strengths and weaknesses of a submitted study, improving the quality of the review in less time 4).

The peer reviewer has similar competence to the producers of the work (peers).

It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field.

Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility. In academia peer review is often used to determine an academic paper's suitability for publication. In parallel with these 'common experience' definitions based on the study of peer review as a pre-constructed process, there are a few scientific understandings of peer review that do not look at peer review as pre-constructed. Hirschauer proposed that journal peer review can be understood as reciprocal accountability of judgements among peers.

Gaudet proposed that journal peer review could be understood as a social form of boundary judgement - determining what can be considered as scientific (or not) set against an overarching knowledge system, and following predecessor forms of inquisition and censorship.

Peer review can be categorized by the type of activity and by the field or profession in which the activity occurs. For example, medical peer review can refer to clinical peer review, or the peer evaluation of clinical teaching skills for both physicians and nurses, or scientific peer review of journal articles, or to a secondary round of peer review for the clinical value of articles concurrently published in medical journals.

Moreover, “medical peer review” has been used by the American Medical Association to refer not only to the process of improving quality and safety in health care organizations, but also to the process of rating clinical behavior or compliance with professional society membership standards.

Thus, the terminology has poor standardization and specificity, particularly as a database search term.

Jefferson T, Rudin M, Brodney Folse S, Davidoff F. Editorial peer review for improving the quality of reports of biomedical studies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(2):MR000016. doi: 10.1002/14651858.MR000016.pub3.
Goodman SN, Berlin J, Fletcher SW, Fletcher RH. Manuscript quality before and after peer review and editing at Annals of Internal Medicine. . Ann Intern Med. 1994;121(1):11–21. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-121-1-199407010-00003.
Pierie JP, Walvoort HC, Overbeke AJ. Readers’ evaluation of effect of peer review and editing on quality of articles in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde. Lancet. 1996;348(9040):1480–1483. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(96)05016-7.
Falavigna A, Blauth M, Kates SL. Critical review of a scientific manuscript: a practical guide for reviewers. J Neurosurg. 2018 Jan;128(1):312-321. doi: 10.3171/2017.5.JNS17809. Epub 2017 Oct 20. PubMed PMID: 29053077.
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  • Last modified: 2023/03/07 23:17
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