Posted on February 23rd, 2020 by Mª Amor Pérez-Rodríguez – Translation: Erika-Lucia Gonzalez-Carrion
One of the main keys to success in a scientific journal is the review process. Therefore, the Board of Reviewers plays a fundamental role in the quality of the publication. Hence, a level of qualification in the subject and an experience in the process of validation of the work sent in the manuscript is required. Although it has detractors, the peer review system is a good way to authenticate and evaluate the research.
Not only do editors help make decisions about the articles that come to the journal for publication, they also contribute to the improvement of the manuscript with the suggestions, comments and arguments raised by the reviewers. In this sense, each reviewer undertakes to perform a critical, honest, rigorous, constructive validation / evaluation without biases or subjective perceptions. This review implies an in-depth reading and an estimate of the quality and scientific solvency, as well as the style of the written function.
The review process can be considered from various options, highlighting:
- Review by single blind pair, so that the names of the reviewers are hidden, but they do know the name of the author. This anonymity allows an impartial assessment and can also facilitate being more critical or demanding.
- Double-blind peer review, in which both the reviewers and the author are anonymous. This model assumes greater objectivity. Not getting to know the author is more difficult bias. It is possible to anonymize the manuscripts in the first phase, also for the Editor, in the triple-blind model
- Open review, which involves different models, in order to achieve greater transparency during and after the valuation process. The reviewer and the author are known by the other during the peer review process, either because the names of the reviewers are published on the article page, or the peer review reports next to the article.
In any case, it is essential that the process be as ethical and transparent. The structure of this task varies according to the journal, but generally the Editor or team makes a first estimate based on aspects of focus of the journal and formal issues. If the requirements are met, it is sent to the reviewers, who must issue their report within two weeks and one month. It is important, in this sense, punctuality in the review. If a reviewer is not competent in the subject or considers that he/she cannot finish the evaluation at the scheduled time, he/she must refuse the invitation of the editors. The respect of the deadlines is an indication of the consideration towards the author and his/her work.
The review is confidential and must be objective. It is not considered appropriate to make personal judgments about the authors. The review should be done rigorously and with academic and scientific arguments. So what is appropriate is to make an assessment in terms of: title and abstract (clarity and structure), the relevance of the subject, the originality of the work, the review of the literature, the structure and organization of the article, the plot capacity, the writing, methodological rigor., research instruments, research results, advances, discussion, conclusions, citations (variety and richness) and references.
Reviewers are required to provide sufficient reasons and arguments for their assessments through a full critical report, especially if rejection is advised or changes are required. They should know the guidelines of the journal and the commitment they subscribe as reviewers. They must also warn publishers if they consider that the work is not original or has been published or is under review for another publication, or similarities or overlaps are detected with other published works.
A very positive aspect in the recommendations is to suggest bibliographic references of fundamental works possibly forgotten by the author. However, these academic indications should not be confused with the unethical recommendation of the citation of the publications themselves regardless of the approach of the revised manuscript, in what is a bad reviewer practice.
Finally, confidential information or information obtained during the peer review process cannot be used for personal purposes and it must be guaranteed that there are no conflicts of interest.