You may often be required to include only peer-reviewed articles as a source for writing your papers, or you may meet academic articles marked as peer-reviewed. The term is largely used in academic communities, and this article will present what you should understand under the peer-reviewed publication.
The Peer Review is when the draft of the publication is reviewed by other experts of the field to either comment on it or approve for publication. The peer-review method is meant to assure the publications' quality and validity and generally control the information going public.
With the Peer review process, the published material's responsibility is shared between the author, editors, and reviewers. Besides, it enhances networking and tighter cooperation within the scholarly community. Peer review can also be viewed as the accelerator of the industry development rates. The more minds join to work on a topic, the better.
The paragraph above holds the reason why you should give your priority to peer-reviewed articles when doing research, regardless if you are required to do so or not. The process behind the publication of such materials guarantees a significantly higher degree of reliability.
To access peer-reviewed sources, you may transfer your search process to academic platforms or limit search engine features to show you only academic content. Not all, but the majority of academic materials are peer-reviewed.
You may check the information at the masthead (the information about authors, editors, publishing date, etc.) to be sure the material is reviewed. Also, platforms such as the Education Resources Information Center have "peer-review only" search filters.
The early history of the term
The peer-review process's core is the discussion of the work with others interested in the same field. Hence, this type of human cooperation probably always existed, characteristically for human nature and psychology.
Ray Spier, the former editor of the Enzyme and Microbial Technology, speaks about the origin of peer review method in his book “Trends of Biotechnology''. According to him, the first written records for the review were of a physician in Syria. He recorded his treatment for the patient so that the local council of physicians reviewed it later.
The predecessor of the modern peer-review process is related to Henry Oldenburg in 1665, who was the first editor for the Philosophical Transactions published in London Royal Society. As an editor, Oldenburg was deciding which materials he would publish in the journal.
In 1731, the Royal Society of Edinburgh published "Medical Essays and Observations." Before publishing the material, the procedure included sorting the writing by subjects and sending each material to the society members closest to that subject.
The Royal Society of London adopted a similar technique in 1752. Their "Committee on papers" members reviewed the written materials and anonymously voted for them to be published in Philosophical Transactions.
Later on, such kinds of committees of reviewers gradually appeared in different countries. However, it's important to note that the reviews were done by internal members, rather than external referees.
In 1832, there was an innovative decision by the Royal Society to obtain and explore external referees' reports to gain better expertise in their selection processes. That's why academic societies often consider the Royal Society as an inventor of the current peer-review method.
Types of Peer Review Process
To ensure the publication materials' objective review, it's usually better to send the draft without the authors' name. This may exclude the reviewers' biases or discrimination based on the author's personality, gender, age, etc.
However, peer review process types include more than the anonymous submission of writings for review. Below you will read about the other types of how the reviews can be.
Single-anonymous peer review
In this type of review, the author's name is available, but the reviewer's name isn't. It's assumed that reviewers feel it easier to provide critics of the publication when they stay anonymous. Also, the authors don't know who will review their publications in advance and can not influence their decision by any means.
Double-anonymous peer review
If you thought that a single anonymous review still gives a place for discrimination of the authors, here is the method covering that point. Double anonymous peer review hides the author's name from the reviewer and the opposite. This approach protects not only reviewers but also authors.
The method is the most transparent type of review. In this process, both authors and reviewers are familiar with each other and with the public. There are different ways of how the open peer-review article may be published.
The reviewers' names can be published along with the authors' names, or the reviewers' reports can be published in the middle parts of the material. There can also be cases when both the author's original document and the reviewed version are published.
However, this method can limit the motivation of reviewers to give critics in such an open way. The method is more beneficial for authors, as they are probably more protected from too sharp critics.
Post-publication peer review
If the paper passes post-publication peer review, there is a possibility to review it and add comments after the publication. This opportunity works both in case the publication is peer-reviewed before or is published after minor checkings.
A good point for this type of review is that peers or interested audience can add comments to your publication in parallel with industry innovations. This can help to keep your publication updated.
On the other side, this can end up as a bad experience for you. Competitors or opposers of your opinion may add contradicting comments, which will distort your publication's general idea. Besides, it's risky to publish an article without a pre-review, especially for fields with higher responsibility like medicine.
The process of peer review
The below description of the peer review process may help you better understand what stages your publications will pass if you submit them for peer review.
1. The first stage of evaluation checks basic issues such as the correspondence of your manuscript to the journal's standards, as well as generally admitted academic standards.
The journal may check several points at this stage: does your publication refer to the journal's main topic, does it correspond to the predefined word count, visuals, statistical, and other standards? Additionally, they may check if your writing sample contains all the academic articles' sections such as methodology, results, conclusion, references, etc.
As the checking process is very basic for this stage, it is conducted at the editorial desk, and in case your article doesn't pass the assessment, you receive a "desk reject." Otherwise, the assessment stages continue.
2. At this stage, the journal editor will provide your sample to subject experts for review. They assess your entire work by different criteria to give a comprehensive opinion at the end.
The most emphasis is put on the originality of the study, alignment with the existing theories in the field, and the correspondence to the journal's quality and niche.
Reviewers will also focus on how the methodology section presents what you did, how precise and understandable is the documentation of the results, and how reliable your conclusions are.
If they do not have any comments, your draft is approved for publishing. Otherwise, you may receive feedback to revise your work or reject it for the particular journal at all.
3. Once you receive the list of required revisions, you have time to make the necessary amendments and submit them. Usually, editors and reviewers will not simply ask to make changes but will also guide you on how to do it.
You may feel discouraged by the extra work because of revision requests. However, they are a great source of improvement. After resubmitting the material, the same steps of the second point are repeated.
Particularly, editors and reviewers will look through the revisions and evaluate how well you answered their comments. Like the previous stage, they may approve the second draft, send it for the second revision, or reject it.
It's highly encouraged that you do thorough research after the first round of reviewer feedback. There may be a rejection of the entire articles' publication if reviewers find their comments are not properly implemented.
Your article goes to publication if the reviewers are satisfied with the article's quality after the made changes.
Peer-reviewed articles are a highly preferred source for research as an upgraded version of the publicly available information. Therefore, understanding the peer-review method and ways to access academically revised articles are essential skills. You may use them not once in your further academic career.
There is a portion of criticism towards the peer review process, pointing to times when the peer review articles still contain inaccuracies. From some point, that's a predictable drawback of the method, as reviewers are human and may miss out on certain details.
However, for a significant period, peer-reviewing is a successfully implemented technique for controlling scientific information, which does not seem to have an effective alternative yet.
Published on Jan 15, 2021