Schol­ars’ tips on how to be a good peer re­viewer

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS -

Peer re­view is lauded in prin­ci­ple as the guar­an­tor of qual­ity in aca­demic pub­lish­ing and grant distri­bu­tion. But its prac­tice is of­ten loathed by those on the re­ceiv­ing end. Here, seven aca­demics of­fer their tips on good ref­er­ee­ing, and re­flect on how it may change in the years to come

Ev­ery aca­demic wants their pa­pers and grant ap­pli­ca­tions to be re­viewed fairly, com­pe­tently, promptly and cour­te­ously. So why is it that, when asked to take their own turn to re­view, so many aca­demics turn into the in­fa­mous re­viewer #2 (or, in the sciences, re­viewer #3): the tardy, abu­sive and self-serv­ing mis­an­thrope hid­ing be­hind the cloak of anonymity to put a ri­val down re­gard­less of merit?

Here, schol­ars from a range of dis­ci­plines and coun­tries set down their thoughts on the dos and don’ts of peer re­view­ing. Is­sues ad­dressed in­clude how many re­view­ing re­quests to ac­cept, when to re­cuse your­self, and whether it is ever ap­pro­pri­ate to re­veal your­self to the au­thor, or to re­quest ci­ta­tions to your own pa­pers.

But what­ever the fail­ings of in­di­vid­u­als, sev­eral con­trib­u­tors be­lieve that, above all, it is the sys­tem it­self that needs to up its game, with the profit mo­tive, the re­stric­tion of re­view­ing to be­fore pub­li­ca­tion and the lack of in­sti­tu­tional re­wards for un­der­tak­ing it all com­ing in for scru­tiny. Peer re­view may be the gold stan­dard, but it clearly needs some at­ten­tion if its cur­rency is not to be de­val­ued.

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