Peer review

From The Embassy of Good Science

Peer review

What is this about?

This article is about scholarly (academic) peer review. In simple terms, peer review is an evaluation of a piece of work by persons from the same or a similar field of work (peers). This process is very important in science, and it is conducted to help journal editors decide what to publish. The purpose of peer review is to detect both the quality and the flaws of the presented piece of work in order to prevent poor research from publication. [1][2] It includes checking for methodological rigor, quality of reporting, and critical assessment of conclusions. [3]

  1. Wierzbinski-Cross H. Peer Review. J Nurses Prof Dev. 2017;33(2):102-4.
  2. D'Andrea R, O'Dwyer JP. Can editors save peer review from peer reviewers? PloS one. 2017;12(10):e0186111. Epub 2017/10/11.
  3. Hames I. Peer review at the beginning of the 21st century. Science Editing. 2014;1(1):4-8.

Why is this important?

In a scientific journal, the editor is responsible for the quality of published research. Of course, an editor cannot possibly know everything about all areas of research. They must, therefore, seek help from other experts to assess the quality of research. They rely on their knowledge and experience to identify possible weaknesses in research. [1] For authors, the peer review process provides thoughtful comments to help them improve their manuscript. Peer review is important in scientific publishing, but also in reviewing project proposals or, sometimes, conference abstracts.

  1. Smith JA, Jr. The Importance of Peer Review: J Urol. 2017 Jun;197(6):1374-1376. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2017.03.115. Epub 2017 Mar 22.

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

Different publishers have a different set of rules for reporting research and conducting peer review so it is always recommended to familiarize yourself with any specific guidelines which are available on each journal’s webpage. Before you can accept an invitation to review, it is necessary to consider does your area of expertise match the topic of the proposed article as well as your potential conflict of interest. A successful peer review usually contains a clear answer on the question should the proposed article be accepted, rejected, or revised. It also contains a list of any major and/or minor issues, their location within the article as well as explanations and suggestions to the author(s). There are some freely available resources which can help with peer review process such as COPE's ethical guidelines for peer reviewers [1], Peer review golden rules and good practice checklist [2] and the Handbook on Best Practices for Peer Review [3], published by the Association of American University Presses.

  1. COPE Council. Ethical guidelines for peer reviewers. September 2017. www. doi:
  2. Hames I. Peer review golden rules and good practice checklist. Sci Ed. 2016;3(1):36-42. doi:
  3. Association of American University Presses. AAUP Handbook - Best Practices for Peer Review. 2016. Available from:

Other information

Good Practices & Misconduct