Peer-Review Policy

What is Peer Review?

  • Peer review is a process that is used to evaluate and validate scientific research work before it is published. The main aim of peer review is to ensure that the research work published is of high quality and can be relied upon by the scientific community. The process involves independent experts (reviewers) assessing the research work of others to determine its quality, accuracy, and validity.
  • Submission: The peer review process starts when an author submits their research work to a journal or publisher. The manuscript is then reviewed by an editor to determine whether it is suitable for review.
  • Selection of Reviewers: The editor selects reviewers who have expertise in the same field as the manuscript to be reviewed. The reviewers should be independent and have no conflict of interest with the author or their research.
  • Review Process: The reviewers are expected to assess the manuscript and provide feedback based on specific criteria provided by the editor. The review process is usually double-blind, where the reviewers do not know the author's identity, and the author does not know the reviewers' identity. The reviewers should evaluate the manuscript's quality, methodology, results, and conclusions, among other criteria.
  • Feedback: The reviewers provide feedback to the editor based on their assessment of the manuscript. The feedback may include suggestions for improvement or rejection of the manuscript if it does not meet the required quality standards.
  • Decision: The editor makes a decision based on the reviewers' feedback, which may include acceptance, minor revisions, major revisions, or rejection of the manuscript.
  • Revision: If the manuscript requires revisions, the author is notified, and they are given a specific timeline to make the necessary revisions.Publication: Once the manuscript meets the required quality standards, it is sent for copyediting and formatting before it is published.

Types of peer review

  • Single Blind Review

  • Double Blind Review

  • Open Review

  • Single-Blind Peer Review is a commonly used peer review model in scientific research publishing. In this model, the reviewers know the identity of the authors, but the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers. The aim of this model is to reduce potential biases in the review process and to ensure that the review process is fair and impartial.

    Single-Blind Peer Review has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages is that it is a widely accepted and traditional model that is familiar to both authors and reviewers. It also allows reviewers to provide feedback based on their expertise while reducing potential biases that may arise from knowing the author's identity.

    However, one of the main disadvantages is that it is still susceptible to potential biases, such as the reviewers being influenced by the author's reputation or the topic of the research work. Additionally, some authors may feel that the review process is unfair if they are not given the opportunity to respond to the reviewers' feedback directly.

JournalsPub's Approach to Double-Blind Peer-Review

JournalsPub is a leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers.
JournalsPub has a strong focus on maintaining the highest standards in scholarly publishing, including peer review. Double-blind peer review is one of the most widely used and effective methods of peer review, and JournalsPub has adopted this model for many of its member journals.
  • The JournalsPub double-blind peer review process involves keeping the identities of both the reviewer and author anonymous. This ensures that the review process is fair and unbiased, with reviewers evaluating the manuscript based solely on its merits.
  • The review process is managed by the journal editor, who selects appropriate reviewers based on their expertise and background in the relevant field.
  • The reviewers are sent the manuscript along with detailed guidelines and criteria to evaluate the manuscript. They are asked to assess the originality, quality, and validity of the research presented and provide constructive feedback to the author.
  • The reviewers submit their feedback to the journal editor, who then makes a decision on whether to accept, reject or request revisions to the manuscript.
  • If revisions are requested, the author is asked to make the necessary changes and resubmit the manuscript for another round of review.
  • Once the manuscript is accepted, it goes through a rigorous copyediting and proofreading process before being published in the journal.
  • JournalsPub has implemented several quality standards and guidelines to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the double-blind peer review process. These guidelines cover areas such as reviewer selection, review criteria, reviewer feedback, and conflict of interest.
  • To ensure that the peer review process is fair and unbiased, JournalsPub encourages reviewers to disclose any conflicts of interest that may affect their review. These conflicts of interest may include personal or professional relationships with the author or funding sources that may influence the reviewer's evaluation.
  • JournalsPub also recognizes the importance of transparency in the peer review process and encourages journals to publish reviewer reports alongside the published manuscript. This helps to increase the accountability of the peer review process and provides valuable feedback to the author.

Why Peer-Review?

  • Peer review is an integral part of scientific publishing that confirms the validity of the manuscript. Peer reviewers are experts who volunteer their time to help improve the manuscripts they review. By undergoing peer review, manuscripts should become:
    • Robustness: peer reviewers may point out gaps in a paper that require more explanation or additional experiments.
    • Easier access and easy to read: if parts of your paper are difficult to understand, reviewers can suggest changes.
    • More useful: peer reviewers also consider the importance of your paper to others in your field.

Key Features of Peer-Review

  • Quality Control: Peer review helps to ensure the quality of scholarly work. It ensures that research studies are conducted in a rigorous and ethical manner and that the findings are valid and reliable.
  • Feedback: Peer review provides authors with feedback that can help them improve the quality of their work. This feedback is provided by experts in the same field, who can provide valuable insights and suggestions for improvement.
  • Validation: Peer review is an essential part of the scientific validation process. It ensures that research studies have been conducted according to the established scientific principles and standards, which is important in building trust and credibility within the scientific community.
  • Transparency: Peer review is a transparent process that ensures that scholarly work is evaluated objectively and impartially. This helps to prevent bias and ensures that research studies are evaluated based on their scientific merit rather than on personal or political beliefs.
  • Publication: Peer review is an important step in the publication process. It ensures that research studies meet the quality standards required for publication in reputable scientific journals.
  • Impact: Peer-reviewed articles are more likely to be cited by other researchers, which can increase the impact of the research and the author's visibility within their field.

Pillars of Peer-Review

There are three pillars of peer review at academic journals that can help to build a stronger foundation for quality research:
  • Clear peer review policies and standards
  • Peer review performance tracking
  • Transparent publishing and data sharing policies
  • Clear peer review policies and standards
The first pillar of quality peer review is establishing clear peer review policies and standards. Journal policies and standards ensure that all parties involved in peer review — editors, authors, and reviewers — know what is expected of them and that all manuscripts are handled in the same way. To ensure quality in peer review, consistency is key! Journals should have:
  • Established peer review policiesPeer review policies are a statement on the peer review guidelines and process the journal follows for all manuscript submissions. Peer review policies should include an overview of the journal’s peer-review process (e.g. blindness, reviewers per manuscript, rounds of review allotted) and the anticipated peer review timeframe, as well as statements on publication ethics.
  • Standardized submission guidelines: Authors should know what is expected of them when preparing their manuscript for a journal, from layout requirements to the citation and data reporting standards they’re expected to follow. All of this information should be included in the author guidelines section of the journal website. Journals should also require authors to provide statements of originality and disclosures with their submissions.
  • Standardized reviewer feedback: Journals should establish clear guidelines for peer reviewers to follow, including reminders of the duties of reviewers — to be objective, diligent, and confidential in their reporting — as well as a standardized reviewer feedback form. You can only expect reviewers to answer the questions that you ask them, required feedback forms ensure greater consistency and quality in referee reports.

All journal policies and standards must be actionable. For example, all of the process steps explained in a journal’s peer review policies must be carried out. So if it states all original research manuscripts will have two external reviewers, this should always be the case. Additionally, journals must have plans in place for enforcing all ethical policies and standards. If an article is found to have a conflict of interest or if there is an allegation of misconduct post-publication, the journal must have processes in place to address the situation. Additionally, if the journal requires authors to follow certain reporting guidelines, it should have a process in place to check for adherence.

Peer review performance tracking

The next pillar of quality peer review is performance tracking. Peer review quality depends on editors following journal policies and processes and reviewers completing reports in a timely and thorough manner. Journals should track peer review data in the following areas:
  • Editorial team performance metrics: Journals should track their editorial performance including the average manuscript acceptance rate at the editor- and journal-level, average days to decision at the editor- and journal-level, and average manuscripts per editor. These metrics can help journals ensure they are accepting manuscripts at a reasonable rate and that editors are working within the peer review timeline outlined in the journal’s policies without being overburdened. If you find that some editors are managing more manuscripts than others or that some editors are struggling to make manuscript decisions within the established peer-review timeframe you know you have some areas to work on.
  • Reviewer performance metrics: Journals should track reviewer performance metrics, including their average time to complete a review and number of reviews completed. Journals can use these metrics to know which reviewers are most reliable and spot if a reviewer may need a break from review requests.
  • Manuscript stages: Journals should also track data around each manuscript’s stage in review, including reviewers per manuscript and rounds of revisions to ensure each submission has enough reviewers and is moving through peer review efficiently and effectively

Transparent publishing and data sharing policies

Finally, the third pillar of quality peer review at academic journals — transparent publishing and data sharing policies — addresses key concerns around research biases and reproducibility. Journals can facilitate the reporting of null and negative results as well as research reproducibility by enabling and encouraging authors to share their manuscripts and data pre- and post-publication.

Peer review quality standards

The team is responsible for upholding the following quality standards:
  • Objectivity: Peer review should be objective and impartial. Reviewers should evaluate the work based on its scientific merit and not on personal beliefs, biases, or other factors.
  • Competence: Peer review should be conducted by individuals with expertise in the relevant field. Reviewers should have a strong understanding of the research area and should be able to provide insightful and constructive feedback.
  • Confidentiality: Peer review should be conducted in a confidential manner. Reviewers should not disclose any information about the work or its authors without the author's consent.
  • Timeliness: Peer review should be conducted in a timely manner. Reviewers should provide feedback promptly to allow authors to make necessary revisions and for the publication process to proceed without undue delay.
  • Constructive feedback: Peer review should provide constructive feedback to authors. Reviewers should highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the work and provide suggestions for improvement.
  • Adherence to standards: Peer review should adhere to established standards and guidelines for scientific research. Reviewers should ensure that the work meets ethical and scientific standards, such as the use of appropriate methodology and the avoidance of plagiarism.
  • Transparency: Peer review should be conducted in a transparent manner. The review process should be clearly outlined and communicated to authors, and reviewers should disclose any potential conflicts of interest.
  • Openness: Some peer review models advocate for openness, where the reviewers' identities are known to the authors and readers. In such cases, reviewers should be accountable for their reviews and ensure that they adhere to the same quality standards as traditional anonymous peer review.

Post-submission steps

After a manuscript is submitted for peer review, there are several steps that take place. The following points outline some of the common post-submission steps:

  • Initial screening: The editor will conduct an initial screening of the manuscript to ensure that it meets the journal's scope and requirements. If the manuscript does not meet these requirements, it may be rejected without being sent out for peer review.

  • Selection of reviewers: The editor will select appropriate reviewers based on their expertise in the subject area of the manuscript. The number of reviewers typically ranges from 2 to 4, depending on the journal's requirements.

  • Review process: The reviewers will evaluate the manuscript and provide feedback on its quality, validity, and suitability for publication. The review process may take several weeks or even months, depending on the complexity of the manuscript and the availability of the reviewers.

  • Decision: After the reviews are completed, the editor will make a decision on whether to accept, reject, or request revisions to the manuscript. If revisions are requested, the author will have an opportunity to make changes and resubmit the manuscript for further review.

  • Copy editing and typesetting: If the manuscript is accepted for publication, it will undergo copy editing and typesetting to ensure that it meets the journal's formatting and style requirements.

  • Proofreading: The final version of the manuscript will undergo proofreading to ensure that there are no errors or typos.

  • Publication: Once the manuscript has been approved and formatted, it will be published online or in print, depending on the journal's policies and preferences.

Handling Editors: Reviewer invitations

Handling Editors are responsible for managing the peer review process for a manuscript. One of their key tasks is to invite appropriate reviewers to evaluate the manuscript. The following points outline the steps involved in handling editor's reviewer invitations:

  • Identify potential reviewers: Handling Editors must identify potential reviewers who have expertise in the subject area of the manuscript. They may consult various sources, such as previous reviewers, editorial board members, or other experts in the field.

  • Send invitations: Once potential reviewers have been identified, Handling Editors will send invitations to them. The invitation should include information about the manuscript, the review process, and the expected timeframe for completing the review.

  • Follow up: Handling Editors may need to follow up with potential reviewers if they do not respond to the initial invitation. This may involve sending reminders or contacting alternative reviewers.

  • Monitor progress: Handling Editors must monitor the progress of the review process to ensure that reviewers are completing their evaluations in a timely manner. They may need to send reminders or follow up with reviewers who are behind schedule.

  • Evaluate feedback: After the reviews are completed, Handling Editors must evaluate the feedback provided by the reviewers. They will use this feedback to make a decision on whether to accept, reject, or request revisions to the manuscript.

  • Communicate decision: Once a decision has been made, Handling Editors must communicate it to the author(s) of the manuscript. They will also provide feedback from the reviewers and any instructions for revising the manuscript, if necessary.