Duties of Reviewer

What is a peer reviewer?

Usually, science and biomedical manuscripts are examined by specialistsbefore being released to the public. They are the critical minds that read the manuscripts and suggest that it should be accepted, rejected or submitted for further revisions in order to be published in academic journals. These third-party readers are called peer-reviewers.

However, the peer-reviewing activity is not practiced solely in the science and biomedical fields. It is quite common among editors and publishers and it is a form of quality assurance in the publishing sector. As scientists and physicians would consider their results as preliminary before being reviewed by peers, publishers are getting peer approval before accepting articles from the editors too. This kind of feedback is important as it provides impartial feedback on the subjects reviewed and objective decisions on whether the pieces should be published or not.

Types of reviews given by peers

There are several types of peer-reviews for submitted manuscripts. The most common include the open review, the blind review and the double blind review. As the name suggests, the open review is conducted when the identities of the author and the reviewer are made known to each other or they already know each other in person. In the blind review the author does not know the identity of the reviewer. Hence, the double blind review is conducted when neither the reviewer nor the author knows each other.

What are peer-reviewers looking for? What are their duties?

Peer-reviewers are usually the ones that are giving the arguments on whether a submitted manuscript should be published or not. They evaluate the technical and historical accuracy of the written text if it is required but they are also analysing the presentation, the writing style and the grammatical correctness of the text.

Reviewers are required to assess whether the manuscript suits the style and the orientation of the publication. However, editors must previously review the work sent to peers in order to stop them wasting their time on manuscripts and texts that are not suitable for the publication in question.

When the peers review a submitted manuscript, they must answer a few questions regarding the content of the written text. First, they have to assess who will be interested in reading the article and why, what are the main claims of the author and whether they are appropriately discussed and if the context is real or not. If the submitted manuscript is not a study such as an editorial or meeting report, the reviewers will assess if it fits the line of the publication; they will examine the ethical issues that may arise such as plagiarismor ghost writing, if the piece is clearly written and accessible to the target readers as well as being grammatically correct. The peers consider the possibility of improving the text, how difficult this task would be and the duration of doing so.

Peer reviewers and PIE

As previously mentioned, PIE offers tools and information to publishers, editors, authors and peer-reviewers. Such individuals are able to register their interest on PIE’s website and become members when accepted. They can collect the information and data they need in order to give the best reviews to the manuscripts they read. Issues on problems relating to editorial ethics, plagiarism and other illegal activities may be presented and addressed through the PIE site.

Ethical standards

While the editor-in-chief has the duty of setting and implementing the ethical standards, the peer-reviewers are those who will assess if the articles are accurate, and according to the PIE standards and recommendations. As members of PIE, peer-reviewers must also comply with the main ethical rules and guidelines and if problems appear, to signal and dispute them with the utmost proficiency and professionalism.

In addition to checking the content’s technical soundness and quality, peer reviewers are also required to check the texts for plagiarism and other ethical related issues that may occur. Again, this can be very difficult to achieve in this day and age and now many authorities believe that if such an issue is identified, then the authors should take full responsibilities for these actions and not the reviewers, editorial board members or editor-in-chief.

The need for peer-reviews

In the last few years the need for peer-reviewing has been questioned; however many editors, authors and publishers consider peer-reviewing as accurate and superior to other alternatives. The latest technological developments have changed the way authors interact with their readers through social media channels; many objectors are considering the peer-reviewing system obsolete, stating that the readers are free to select what to read. Therefore anybody should be able to write freely about anything they want to.

In many areas of expertise however, peer reviewers are still necessary as there is a constant need for specialists who are able to review the scientific and biomedical papers and ensure there is accuracy and quality in the articles they clear for publishing. While peer review is not without flaws, the reviewers must be at least specialists in their field of knowledge, and able to understand and correct the texts being sent to them. It is also the job of the editor to select the peers that are most likely to comprehend the articles they are reviewing.

Benefits of peer-reviewing

If simple manuscripts and news does not always need peer-reviews, there is an entirely different problem regarding the scientific specialised publications and the manuscripts they publish. While the newspapers are reviewed by proof readers and linguists, the science journals may need a more specialised and professional feedback, especially when new ideas or breakthroughs are presented or debated within their pages. Last but not least, the peer-reviewers are the best way of self-monitoring the authors work.



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