By Mollie Broad, PR Executive, SAGE Publishing @broad_mollie
Peer review, although an imperfect system, plays an essential role within the scholarly ecosystem and acts as the gatekeeper in order to maintain the integrity of the academic record. However, reviewing manuscripts takes a lot of time, and whilst it is an important way for researchers to develop skills and see upcoming research within their respective fields, it is vital that this work is properly recognised.
One journal, Cooperation and Conflict, published by SAGE, is taking an innovative approach to address this and has launched an award for the Best Review that they have seen for articles published in the previous year’s volume. The winning review is then published in the journal, acting as an exemplar for other reviewers. So what does an award winning review look like and what is the journal hoping to achieve through this unique initiative? We’ve spoken to the Journal Editor, Annika Björkdahl, to find out more:
Cooperation and Conflict is a journal that has been around for more than 50 years and it is now ranked 15th among the journals in the field of International Relations. We have been editors for the journal for more than five years and based on our experiences of managing the journal we thought it was time to really acknowledge the often forgotten but crucial work of peer-reviewers. Reviewers are the guarantor for the high standing of the journal and the solid scientific quality of the articles we publish. So we decided to inaugurate a Best Review Prize. The prize was launched at the ISA convention in San Francisco in April this year.
What do you hope to achieve by publishing the Best Review in the journal?
We launched the prize to acknowledge the importance of reviewers to the journal and to the academic community. We also hoped to encourage reviewers to be critical and constructive and to take the task seriously. By publishing the review we also hope to demonstrate to younger and inexperienced scholars what a solid review looks like.
What are the key factors that help you identify the best review?
The prize is awarded to the review that most convincingly and in an outstanding fashion satisfies the following criteria:
- Contributes with constructive comments that advance the original contribution to the field of the particular article.
- Suggests ways of improving on and conveying the theoretical innovativeness of the article.
- Provides comments that help the author(s) to clarify and ensure the methodological rigor of the article.
- Offers helpful comments that bring out the empirical richness of the article.
- Recommends alterations that enhances the prose and clarifies the structure and the argument of the article.
Read this year’s winning review.
Read the editor’s note on the Best Review Prize.
Annika Björkdahl is Professor of Political Science at Lund University, Sweden and the Editor-in-Chief of Cooperation and Conflict.