Peer Review Week 2020: Trust in Peer Review

Peer review Sep 22, 2020

The yearly event that celebrates the importance of peer review takes place this week, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighting the "trust" in this process.

Peer Review Week 2020


Peer Review Week 2020 takes place from 21st to 25th September. The 6th edition of the event celebrates the importance of peer review in the scientific community and scholarly communications. The main theme for this edition is “Trust in Peer Review”. This year, more than any other, the importance of reliable and rigorous articles is in focus. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light one of the major problems of the "Information Age". The aim of Peer Review Week is, among other things, to show the importance of peer review and its ability to ensure the reliability and thoroughness of published articles.

"Trust in published research has never been so important with pressing global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. It’s vital for the public, policymakers and other researchers to know that work they are relying on has been evaluated and tested."

-PRW Steering Committee Co-Chair Phil Hurst, of The Royal Society

The "Peer Review Week" unites individuals, organizations and institutions in a week full of online events, blogs, videos... and above all, dialogue. Different organizations have shared useful and interesting contributions to the event (videos, infographics, blog posts…). Furthermore, the addition of new organizations such as “The Chinese Academy of Sciences” or “EASE” in Turkey, makes this edition one of the most attractive ones for the scientific community.

What is Peer Review?

Let’s go deeper into the term peer review. When we talk about peer review, we are talking about an existing system that validates academic work. The process involves reviewers -experts in a specific discipline- who independently review the validity of the ideas and the results of the article in question. It is the most used method for academic validation, despite the fact that it's subject to criticism from part of the scientific community. This system was born more than 300 years ago, when first scientific journals appeared. Nowadays, it establishes the basis for communication in the field of scientific publications, and it is the system that guarantees the reliability of the articles published.

Type of reviews

Four types of revisions are defined. Each has a number of different characteristics and certain advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Single blind review: The reviewers are anonymous to the author. It is the traditional method and the most used one in the community. The most important aspect is that the anonymity allows the reviewer to make impartial reviews.
  2. Double blind review: Both authors and reviewers are anonymous. In this type of review, prejudices based on the age, gender... or prestige of the author disappear.
  3. Triple blind review: Reviewers are also anonymous, but in this case the author is anonymous to the reviewers and the editor.
  4. Open review: Author and reviewer are known one each other during the process.

On one hand, part of the community believes that "open review" is the best way to encourage honest and transparent reviews. On the other hand, political correctness and the fear of not being anonymous, can undermine the true intent of this type of review.

The process

Diagram of peer review process

What are the pros and cons?

There is no doubt that peer review is a necessary system for the scientific community. A 2015 survey by the Publishing Research Consortium, revealed that the overall satisfaction is 65%. Furthermore, 74% of the researchers admitted that the system improves the quality of the published articles. The main advantage of peer review is the ability to guarantee the reliability and thoroughness of the papers and articles that are published. Thanks to the process, you can be sure that the information has passed a certain number of filters, and that it has been reviewed by experts in the subject.

However, there are a series of disadvantages associated with the system. The main disadvantage is that most reviewers reject certain articles for lack of time. Reviewing implies that these experts put aside their studies, research, etc. Although peer review is one of the pillars of research, it is also one of the most complex tasks. Moreover, reviewers don’t get paid for their job. It is true that there are other non-material rewards for reviewing articles, such as prestige, experience, knowledge... But most of the time, the most qualified experts refuse to review articles due to lack of time, so this allows less qualified researchers to obtain such responsibility. This sometimes results in less accurate and less reliable reviews.

At Orvium we want to build a reliable, honest and transparent community. Our aim is to reward reviewers and to give them the opportunity to improve their professional profile. Orvium platform offers single, double and open peer review helping build a community in which the reliability and thoroughness of all information is guaranteed. Go and check our app at https://dapp.orvium.io


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