Taking peer review’s pulse with today’s researchers

Taylor & Francis Group publishes white paper on Peer review in 2015: a global view

Published today is a new white paper, exploring researchers’ views on peer review, the system very much at the heart of scholarly communication, yet one which garners strong opinions from across the research community. Gathering views from those who author research articles, those who review them, and the journal editors who oversee the process, Peer review in 2015: a global view, offers a truly 360° perspective on the system which is commonly agreed to be an essential part of research publication.

Including findings from a global online survey as well as focus groups held in China, South Africa and the UK, Peer review in 2015: a global view is one of the largest research studies into peer review in recent years, bringing together views from those working in the sciences, social sciences, medicine and humanities. With responses from over 7,400 researchers globally, the white paper reports on the purpose of peer review (focusing on reality versus expectation), perceptions of the prevalence of ethical issues in peer review, timeframes and the realities of submission, and how comfortable (or not) researchers are with different peer review models.

The research found agreement on the most important motivation to publish in peer reviewed journals: making a contribution to the field and sharing research with others was the top rated response across all groups (authors, reviewers and editors). 68% of researchers also believe they can have confidence in the academic rigour of published articles because of peer review, and most researchers rate the benefit of peer review towards improving their article as 8 or above out of 10 in the survey.

Examining the prevalence of ethical issues, the survey results run somewhat contrary to recent discussions, with respondents reporting a low prevalence of gender bias in peer review in their experience, but a higher prevalence of regional and seniority bias. Many also suggest that double blind peer review is most capable of preventing reviewer discrimination, and when questioned on more open models of review scores were surprisingly neutral. Free text responses in the survey and in focus groups were however much stronger, a representative selection of which have been highlighted in the white paper.

Dr David Green, Publishing Director (International) for Taylor & Francis Group Journals, said,

“This white paper represents a major contribution to understanding the value of, and issues surrounding, peer review of articles in the contemporary scholarly and research communities. Despite the calls of some to do away with pre-publication review, the findings clearly show that for most academics and researchers, there continues to be much value attached to this refereeing of science, when conducted with rigour and integrity. ”

Read the full white paper, with the accompanying key survey data, on authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com

For more information please contact:
Elaine Devine,
Communications Manager (Author Relations), Taylor & Francis Group
Tel: +44 (0)7827 993760 / +44 020 7551 9181 

elaine.devine@tandf.co.uk

Notes to Editors

Peer review in 2015: a global view is published on Taylor & Francis Author Services (authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com), and is accompanied by the survey data (including questions).

This study incorporates both qualitative and quantitative research, with the focus groups allowing an exploration of views and nuances between disciplines and roles, as well as a check for global agreement or disagreement. 

Focus groups: Six took place in the UK, China and South Africa in early 2015. Editors, authors and reviewers (46 in total) who had had a minimum of two articles peer reviewed (whether with Taylor & Francis or any other publisher) took part, spanning the sciences, technology, medicine, social sciences, and humanities.

Online survey: Responses are from researchers who have published in Taylor & Francis or Routledge journals in 2013. This year was selected so that many respondents would also be able to offer recent experiences ranging across different publishers, reflecting the diverse publishing experience of today’s research communities. Responses were compared to a smaller sample of researchers from lists provided by Thomson Reuters, to ensure the results were truly representative.

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