Peer review – a global view

Within the academic community, peer review is widely recognized as being at the heart of scholarly research. However, faith in peer review’s integrity is of ongoing and increasing concern to many. It is imperative that publishers and academic editors of peer-reviewed scholarly research, as well as the librarians that disseminate research throughout their institutions, work together to improve practices in areas such as ethical issues, training, and data transparency.

This white paper, published in July 2016, has been researched and compiled to assist in this goal, presenting survey results and focus group findings from one of the largest international research studies on peer review in recent years.

Key findings

  • Making a contribution to the field and sharing results are the most important motivations for submitting to peer-reviewed journals.
  • Most reviewers had reviewed up to 50 academic papers to date, with 46% of STM researchers reviewing between 10 and 50, and 49% of HSS researchers doing the same.
  • Playing their part as a member of the academic community, reciprocating the benefit, and improving papers are the most important reasons for agreeing to peer review in both STM and HSS.
  • Most people received their first invitation to review through the journal editor or an editorial board member.
  • The factor that would incentivise people most to review is receiving free access to the journal.
  • Over two thirds of authors who have never peer reviewed would like to.
  • Yet 60% of editors have difficulty in finding qualified reviewers.
  • 64% of authors in HSS and 63% in STM who are yet to review a paper would like formal training.
  • 66% of reviewers in HSS and 64% in STM rate their confidence in reviewing a paper as 8 or above out of 10.
  • Editorial board members (HSS) and Web of Science (STM) are the most used means of finding reviewers.