Peer review is a process
of self-regulation by a profession or a process of
evaluation involving qualified individuals within the
relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to
maintain standards, improve performance and provide
credibility. In Academia Publishing, review is often used to
determine an academic paper's suitability for
Pragmatically, peer review refers to the work done
during the screening of submitted manuscripts. This
process encourages authors to meet the accepted
standards of their discipline and prevents the
dissemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted
claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal
views. Publications that have not undergone peer review
are likely to be regarded with suspicion by scholars and
Open peer review
It has been suggested that traditional anonymous peer
review lacks accountability, can lead to abuse by
reviewers, and may be biased and inconsistent, alongside
other flaws. In response to these criticisms, other
systems of peer review with various degrees of
"openness" have been suggested.
Anonymous peer review
Anonymous peer review, also called blind
review, is a system of prepublication peer review of
articles or papers for journals by reviewers who are
known to the journal editor but whose names are not
given to the article's author. The reviewers do not know
the author's identity, as any identifying information is
stripped from the document before review. The system is
intended to reduce or eliminate bias.
It is difficult for authors and researchers, whether
individually or in a team, to spot every mistake or flaw
in a complicated piece of work. This is not necessarily
a reflection on those concerned, but because with a new
and perhaps eclectic subject, an opportunity for
improvement may be more obvious to someone with special
expertise or who simply looks at it with a fresh eye.
Therefore, showing work to others increases the
probability that weaknesses will be identified and
improved. For both grant-funding and publication, it is
also normally a requirement that the subject is both
novel and substantial
Furthermore, the decision whether or not to publish a
scholarly article, or what should be modified before
publication, lies with the editor of the journal to
which the manuscript has been submitted. Similarly, the
decision whether or not to fund a proposed project rests
with an official of the funding agency. These
individuals usually refer to the opinion of one or more
reviewers in making their decision. This is primarily
for three reasons:
Workload: A small group of editors/assessors
cannot devote sufficient time to each of the many
articles submitted to many journals. Diversity of opinion: Were the editor/assessor to
judge all submitted material themselves, approved
material would solely reflect their opinion. Limited expertise: An editor/assessor cannot be
expected to be sufficiently expert in all areas covered
by a single journal or funding agency to adequately
judge all submitted material.
Reviewers are typically anonymous and independent, to
help foster unvarnished criticism, and to discourage
cronyism in funding and publication decisions.
In the case of proposed publications, an editor sends
advance copies of an author's work to researchers or
scholars who are experts in the field. Usually, there
are two or three referees for a given article.
Referees' evaluations usually include an explicit
recommendation of what to do with the manuscript or
proposal, often chosen from options provided by the
journal or funding agency. Most recommendations are
along the lines of the following:
1. To unconditionally accept the manuscript or proposal,
2. To accept it in the event that its authors improve it
in certain ways,
3. To reject it, but encourage revision and invite
4. To reject it outright.
During this process, the role of the referees is
advisory, and the editor is typically under no formal
obligation to accept the opinions of the referees.
The referees do not act as a group, do not communicate
with each other, and typically are not aware of each
others identities or evaluations. There is usually no
requirement that the referees achieve consensus. Thus
the group dynamics are substantially different from that
of a jury.
Peer review failure
Peer review failures occur when a peer-reviewed article
contains obvious fundamental errors that undermine at
least one of its main conclusions. Many journals have no
procedure to deal with peer review failures beyond
publishing letters to the editor.
Peer review in academia assumes that the article
reviewed has been honestly written, and the process is
not designed to detect fraud.
An experiment on peer review with a fictitious
manuscript has found that peer reviewers may not detect
all errors in a manuscript and the majority of reviewers
may not realize the conclusions of the paper is
unsupported by the results.
When peer review fails and a paper is published with
fraudulent or otherwise irreproducible data, the paper
may be retracted.