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Question of the month- peer review

Posted by , on 27 August 2015

This week the BioMedCentral blog put together a quiz to test how good you are at assessing the best course of action when faced with tricky peer review scenarios. These scenarios make for a fun exercise, but similar situations can and are encountered by you when invited to review manuscripts. However (like many other tasks that are asked from researchers) very few people receive formal training on how to review a manuscript. Of course, a lot of what makes a good reviewer is also what makes a good experimentalist, but how best to avoid conflict of interests, biases or becoming the dreaded third reviewer? Should formal training be provided by universities (e.g. during graduate school or postdoc) or by journals when a new reviewer is invited? Should it be the responsibility of mentors? Or should the community put together a set of guidelines that everyone agrees to follow? In other words:


What is the best way to encourage good peer reviewing?


Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below! You can comment anonymously if you prefer. We are also collating answers on social media via this Storify. And if you have any ideas for future questions please drop us an email!


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One thought on “Question of the month- peer review”

  1. [1] Reviewers must be trained. Too many reviews translate to “you didn’t study what I am interested in”, and too many reviewers just look for individual things to criticize rather than judging the work. Perhaps a form, such as you receive to review a grant, could be made available. [2] Authors should be anonymous. Of course, sometimes reviewers will know or be able to find out who the authors are, but often enough reviewers will be forced to judge the science on its own merit rather than what they assume of a particular lab. This will be especially true if [3] more post docs and even graduate students are reviewers, because they will have more time and more motivation to be thorough and fair – as long as they are trained. [4] There needs to be a forum for addressing obviously biased, uninformed, or irrelevant criticism. If the web has taught us anything it is that people will rely on emotion rather than reason if they can hide behind anonymity. The forum/ombudsperson has to be separate from the editor who needs to maintain working relationships with reviewers.


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