Why Peer Review is Important for Scientific Papers

Sep 24, 2021 Ver este post en Español

Updated June 8th, 2022

Scientific discoveries can have a big impact on individuals and society. That’s why they have to undergo quality control by peer-reviewing to uphold scientific integrity.

This article discusses why the peer review process is important for scientific papers and journals, the four steps to peer-reviewing, and the past, present, and future of peer review.

Why Is the Peer Review Process Important for Scientific Papers and Journals?

Within the scientific community, peer-reviewing has long been the essential component of academic writing. Peer review helps ensure that papers published in scientific journals draw accurate conclusions following correctly executed experimentation and that they answer meaningful research questions. It identifies biases, errors, and other limitations to publication quality.

The peer-review process itself teaches a researcher how to review a manuscript, spot the most common flaws in research papers, and improve their own chances of being a successful published author. Additionally, fellow peer reviewers may be able to spot mistakes that the author has not.

4 Steps on Peer Review - The Right Way

Manuscripts submitted to a journal go through an editorial process first, after which journals invite experts in the particular field to comment and review the manuscripts. You may also be invited to peer review based on the following criteria:

  • You write papers or manuscripts. This is typically the best way to get noticed
  • You may talk to your supervisor or email associate editors to find out how you can peer review
  • Sign up for journal databases
  • Talk to your authors or co-authors to find out who may need peer review.

If you get the chance to conduct a peer review, follow the four steps below to write a successful peer review:

1) Read the manuscript in its entirety - the first read-through of a manuscript is the most important because this is your initial impression of the research. After reading it once in its entirety, you’ll also be able to gauge if you’re a good fit to assess the research subject. If not, you may want to have another peer reviewer take over.

2) Re-read the manuscript and take notes - if you decide to conduct the peer-review after the initial read-through, now is the time to go over the manuscript in more detail and take notes. Ask yourself and try to answer the following questions:

  • Does the title reflect the topic and subtopic of the paper? Is the title too short?
  • Is the abstract informative enough? Check the synopsis in the report to see if the author summarized the information correctly.
  • Are other contributing authors and researchers cited? Are there citations in the paper?
  • Are the methods and ideas presented new, creative, or worthwhile?
  • Does the article provide adequate information about the research application?
  • Are figures and tables correct, clear, and relevant?
  • Does the author demonstrate knowledge of things like sentence structure, word choice, grammar, and punctuation? Ensure there are no errors or mistakes.

3) Write a clear and constructive review - there’s nothing worse for an author than a bad peer review. It’s crucial that you’re fair and give the review the time it deserves. Give examples to support your claims. See this example of a good manuscript review submitted to an international journal, and you can take a peek at our nine steps for publishing academic papers for more inspiration.

4) Make a recommendation - this is where you make a recommendation to either accept, revise, reject, or transfer the paper. Remember that an acceptance recommendation after the first review is extremely rare and should only be used in cases where there is no room for improvement.

You may also check each journal’s official website provided by the publishers for reviewing guidelines, as they may have different structural expectations.

The Orvium Peer Review

Orvium believes that the content of a paper is more important than the author or the institution the author is from. We also know from our What is a Peer Review article that the peer review process ensures that fair and unbiased research applications maintain trustworthiness. Orvium gives peer reviewers the chance to collaborate, showcase your profile, and track your impact, all on a modern web platform.

The Past, Present, and Future of Peer Review

Peer review is both old and new. We must consider and understand its evolution to change its future (for the better). One of the earliest works of (what we now know as) peer review occurred as early as the 1500s with Copernicus and Galileo, with their Heliocentric theory. The term “peer review” was coined way later in the early 1970s.

Today, there’s a debate on whether or not the quality of scientific research is upheld through peer review. Although there isn’t one definite answer, researchers and scientists haven’t, don’t, and most likely won’t see eye to eye on the debate. Measuring the quality of peer review is challenging. After all, it is a flawed system created by flawed individuals (no one is perfect).

If someone today was asked to recreate the concept or a new peer review system, they would probably not design it the same way. The idea of having one editor with two or three reviewers as the gatekeepers of scientific knowledge is a bit outdated. However, the concept of open peer review is a much better approach for the future, considering that we could not live in a world without peer review. Open peer review allows science and scientific findings to be available to everyone, anywhere, while scientific papers are more reliable and consistent. Authors can also review each other without a publisher involved and form their own review communities to have peer-to-peer review.

A More Open Peer Review?

Open peer review (and not only) is what Orvium is all about. Without peer review, there’s a risk of fraudulent studies, methodological errors, and biases by researchers and scientists. Therefore, the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

We talked about why the peer review process is important for scientific papers and journals, the four steps to correctly peer review, and the past, present, and future of peer review. As a reviewer with Orvium, you get recognition for your work, improve your professional profile, and can work collaboratively with others to advance science.

Check out our live platform to see all of the amazing contributions from researchers and peer reviewers and discover what matters to you.