What to expect from peer review: a new beginner’s guide from Sense About Science

Standing up for Science 3: Peer Review the nuts and bolts

For those of our readers still early in their career as a researcher, do you sometimes wonder what happens from the point that you submit a journal article to the time that you hear it has been accepted? Chances are, regardless of the discipline you publish in, the article has gone through a series of stages of peer review, by the editor or editorial team working on the journal, and by other experts in the field. Today, a new guide has been published that aims to help de-mystify the peer review process. What is it? Who does it? What is its value? And why should you get involved?

The booklet has been published by Sense About Science, a charitable trust that equips people to make sense of scientific and medical claims in public discussion. SAGE is delighted to be working with Sense About Science as a sponsor of this new work. It came about as the result of several meetings arranged by Sense About Science’s ‘Voice of Young Science’ network, who wanted to know more about the peer review process. The guide sets out the basics of peer review with early career researchers in mind. It takes input from a range of sources, including advice from editors, reviewers, publishers and journalists.

Rather than glorify the process, it asks honest questions about peer review. It acknowledges that there are flaws in the process, but equally recognizes the benefits it brings. 91% of researchers from a 2009 survey (see p. 6 of the guide) believe that their last paper was improved through the peer review process. That, along with the benefits of supporting the academic community and in being able to constructively support other researchers, makes peer review a rewarding process for many.

At SAGE, we see the peer review process as integral to ensuring the quality associated with our journals and work closely with our journal editors to support the peer review process. In 2011, we rolled out a new rewards programme for all our journals reviewers, and also regularly work with our editors and society publishing partners to acknowledge the important role of peer review. You can find out more about working with reviewers at SAGE from our editor gateway. 

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