The major focus of the present research paper will be peer review process in all its aspects. This paper will also consider the essence of the peer review process, stages of its development and major spheres of its professional use for production of scholarly publications. One more focus of the present research will be the practical use of properly developed knowledge of peer review process for students and personally for the author of this paper. This work will be structured according to the main aspects of peer review that demand consideration and of paramount importance for students who want to start publishing their articles in scholarly journals. The information presented in the current paper will be a combination of the author’s personal observations and opinions with the ideas expressed by scholars dealing with peer review process and its basics.
Essence of Peer Review
To begin with, it is necessary to define peer review and outline its main aspects. First of all, peer review (or external review, external assessment as it is sometimes called) is a process of impartial and qualified assessment of a scholarly paper written by another person (Dennis, 1997). Thus, the major aim of the peer review process is reaching the highest level of proficiency of this or that publication through its consideration by several reviewers. In other words, this process aims at finding and eliminating any possible drawbacks and weak points of the paper under consideration, and highlighting the strong points of it in order to provide the author with clear guidelines as for how the paper should be improved so that this or that scholarly journal could accept it for publication.
Usually, reviewers are anonymous which helps in assuring the objectivity of their work and of the assessment of this or that paper. Their work is of great help when an author needs understanding of how average readers would perceive his or her article and help in identifying any vague points of the paper which he or she could not notice him- or herself. Certain reviewing agencies and the specialized Board of Reviewers present peer review services for those who want to be sure about the accuracy of the review of their works. When review is carried out by a single reviewer, it is not always reliable, so the process of multiple reviews and revisions is used to provide for better quality of scholarly publications. Consequently, the most reliable process of review is the one carried out by groups of different reviewers (Hamilton, 2003).
Peer Review Development
It is necessary to identify the major stages of the development of peer review process both in general and in any particular case. First of all, peer review process is a matter that people should study thoroughly before writing for publication or helping their students to publish. This means that peer review is a serious process, which demands deep knowledge of the subject, wide scholarly knowledge in related areas, good command of psychology, and communicational skills. Moreover, each peer reviewer should be aware of ethics of assessment of papers, which demands being impartial and non-biased towards both the author of the paper reviewed and the subject matter of that paper. All these skills are the basis on which peer review process is developed (McConnell, 1998).
Moreover, authors should also be aware of the above principles. Also, the author seeking a peer review should not participate in choosing a reviewer for his or her work. After the reviewer is determined, one or several secondary reviewers should be found to complete the process and ensure its objectivity. Next step in the peer review process is the submission of a paper for review. The first review process results in comments that the author should consider and than direct the paper for assessment to other selected reviewers. Only after all the drawbacks of the paper are eliminated as indicated by reviewers, the process of peer review can be considered completed and the publication can be accepted for publishing in a reputable journal (Hamilton, 2003).
Consequently, after all major aspects of peer review are considered it is necessary to look at the spheres of professional use of this technique of publication assessment. Thus, the purposes of the peer review can be outlined as follows:
- consideration of the paper in respect of its overall theme and accuracy;
- singling out its main weak and strong points;
- specifying the areas of the paper where improvements should be made by the author with specific recommendations from reviewers.
As far as the fulfillment of these purposes provides for better understanding between the author and intended audience, they are rather important. Peer review process is called to be “the linchpin of academic freedom” (Hamilton, 2003, p. 42), so it is used in such spheres as education, science, humanities, accounting, management, marketing and many others. There are wide applications of peer review process in the sphere of modern technologies (Wood, 1998). Thus, online scholarly journals make use of the online peer review, which is carried out through the sample forms that reviewers should fill in and submit to the journal. After this, the journal reviewers make their corrections and either accept or reject certain publications in their journal. Peer review is also used by professionals who teach it in universities and provide for the better understanding of peer review principles by students (Smaby et al., 2001). All these areas of professional use of peer review demonstrate the importance of this process and its undoubted value for scholarly publications and many other spheres of human activity.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As it is obvious from the above presented data, peer review process, as well as any other human activity, has its own strong and weak points. The aim of this chapter is to consider them and offer ways for the better use of strengths and overcoming of weaknesses. First of all, among the strong points of peer review such ones can be singled out as the high probability of presenting the objective paper for publication, elimination of all the drawbacks and ambiguities in the paper, its consideration by numerous reviewers and arbitrators who have different opinions and viewed the paper from different perspectives. For better use o this points, it could be of help to use the services of impartial and professional reviewers whose number should not be limited to a single arbitrator (Hamilton, 2003). The more qualified people read your work, the more you can improve and develop it.
However, weak points of the peer review process can also be found. Among them, the most important are the possible subjectivity of the review, the chance that the reviewer is biased towards the author or the subject of the paper, lack of knowledge of many young authors about the principles of peer review and ethics of this significant process (McConnell, 1998). These very points are rather important as they prevent authors from being published and demand serious attention. In order to overcome these weaknesses of peer review, it is necessary to make it a basic discipline in the higher educational establishments so that students should be aware of the requirements of peer review, and were able to meet them while preparing their publications for scholarly journals. Moreover, it is important to let students practice peer review and be both the authors whose works are reviewed and the reviewers. This will allow the more proficient use of peer review by students in future, and can be achieved through training programs in educational establishments and through the personal self-improvement that should become one of the basic tasks for students.
I am a student of PhD level, and it is obvious that peer review is of great importance for my further development as a scholar and as a personality. First of all, I plan to express my ideas on the topics I study in the scholarly articles that I want to publish in reputable journals. For this purpose, I will have to apply peer review of my articles, and knowledge of its essence will be of great help for it. As an author I will have to submit my articles to the anonymous and non-biased reviewers for several times until it is clear that they are acceptable for the publication in scholarly journals. Thus, enriching my knowledge about generating scholarly knowledge, preparation of publications and especially peer review process, I am on the way of ensuring the fruitful work of mine as an author of scholarly works in future.
Moreover, the impact of peer review process and knowledge about it on me can also be observed in the fact that I would be able to peer review articles of other people starting from my fellow-students and coming to the reviews of the works of actual scientific importance. Knowledge of ethics of peer review, its main types and procedures, will allow me to produce high-quality scholarly papers for publishing in reputable sources, as well as be helpful to other people in reviewing and assessing their papers. Moreover, the present research on peer review process enlarges my knowledge of the subject, and in future I will be able to make my contribution to the process of generating of scholarly knowledge and developing the human thought.
Preparation for Peer Review
In order to achieve all the above mentioned purposes in the context of peer review process, I should enumerate and explain the ways in which I can prepare for it during the process of study. Along with learning the basics of preparing the scholarly publications, I have come across numerous principles according to which it should be carried out, and peer review is one of the most important of them. Consequently, I pay much attention to studying it, and the first step I should take to prepare myself for it is to study it during this course as precisely as possible. In other words, learning all the aspects of peer review will allow me to be ready for the issues it can bring when I will submit an article for publishing in a reputable journal.
Furthermore, being aware of the principles of selection of arbitrators and peer reviewers, organization of peer review process and other aspects (such as determining the number reviewers who should be addressed, etc) will prepare me better for numerous revisions of my articles that will inevitably follow. Nevertheless, knowing that it is a usual practice and it is implemented only for ensuring the high quality of my paper, I will readily modify papers so that they could meet the recommendations of reviewers. Moreover, I should also consider scholarly literature concerning the topic of paper review and incorporate ideas I find there and from my classes into my future practice. This all will, combined with the proper knowledge of subjects I will write about, prepare me for peer review process as an integral part of any scholarly publication.
To conclude the present research paper, I should state that peer review process is an integral part of any scholarly publication. The stage of preparing such a publication is always connected with the study of basics of peer review. Having completed this research I can state that peer review is a process of impartial and qualified assessment of a scholarly publication aimed at bringing this publication to the highest level of proficiency and interest for the intended audience. To make it as objective and accurate as possible, peer review should be carried out by several anonymous, non-biased and professional reviewers and returned for numerous revisions to the author. Peer review is of crucial importance for students and for me personally as knowledge about it provides for better understanding of the basics of scholarly publication.
Smaby, M. H., Maddux, C. D., Zirkle, D. S., & Henderson, N. J. (2001). Counselor Education and Supervision: On-Line Peer Review Editing, On-Line Submissions, and Publishing Articles on the World Wide Web. Counselor Education and Supervision, 40(3), 163.
Dennis, A. (1997). A Refresher Course in Peer Review. Journal of Accountancy, 183(2), 72+.
Hamilton, N. W. (2003). The Ethics of Peer Review. Liberal Education, 89(1), 42+.
McConnell, D. K., & Banks, G. Y. (1998). A Common Peer Review Problem. Journal of Accountancy, 185(6), 39+.
Wood, D. J. (1998). Peer review and the Web: The implications of electronic peer review for biomedical authors, referees and learned society publishers. Journal of Documentation, 54, 173-197.