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Imbalance in individual researcher's peer review activities quantified for four British ecological society journals, 2003-2010


Petchey, Owen L; Fox, Jeremy W; Haddon, Lindsay (2014). Imbalance in individual researcher's peer review activities quantified for four British ecological society journals, 2003-2010. PLoS ONE, 9(3):e92896.

Abstract

Researchers contribute to the scientific peer review system by providing reviews, and "withdraw" from it by submitting manuscripts that are subsequently reviewed. So far as we are aware, there has been no quantification of the balance of individual's contributions and withdrawals. We compared the number of reviews provided by individual researchers (i.e., their contribution) to the number required by their submissions (i.e. their withdrawals) in a large and anonymised database provided by the British Ecological Society. The database covered the Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, and Functional Ecology from 2003-2010. The majority of researchers (64%) did not have balanced contributions and withdrawals. Depending on assumptions, 12% to 44% contributed more than twice as much as required; 20% to 52% contributed less than half as much as required. Balance, or lack thereof, varied little in relation to the number of years a researcher had been active (reviewing or submitting). Researchers who contributed less than required did not lack the opportunity to review. Researchers who submitted more were more likely to accept invitations to review. These finding suggest overall that peer review of the four analysed journals is not in crisis, but only due to the favourable balance of over- and under-contributing researchers. These findings are limited to the four journals analysed, and therefore cannot include researcher's other peer review activities, which if included might change the proportions reported. Relatively low effort was required to assemble, check, and analyse the data. Broader analyses of individual researcher's peer review activities would contribute to greater quality, efficiency, and fairness in the peer review system.

Abstract

Researchers contribute to the scientific peer review system by providing reviews, and "withdraw" from it by submitting manuscripts that are subsequently reviewed. So far as we are aware, there has been no quantification of the balance of individual's contributions and withdrawals. We compared the number of reviews provided by individual researchers (i.e., their contribution) to the number required by their submissions (i.e. their withdrawals) in a large and anonymised database provided by the British Ecological Society. The database covered the Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, and Functional Ecology from 2003-2010. The majority of researchers (64%) did not have balanced contributions and withdrawals. Depending on assumptions, 12% to 44% contributed more than twice as much as required; 20% to 52% contributed less than half as much as required. Balance, or lack thereof, varied little in relation to the number of years a researcher had been active (reviewing or submitting). Researchers who contributed less than required did not lack the opportunity to review. Researchers who submitted more were more likely to accept invitations to review. These finding suggest overall that peer review of the four analysed journals is not in crisis, but only due to the favourable balance of over- and under-contributing researchers. These findings are limited to the four journals analysed, and therefore cannot include researcher's other peer review activities, which if included might change the proportions reported. Relatively low effort was required to assemble, check, and analyse the data. Broader analyses of individual researcher's peer review activities would contribute to greater quality, efficiency, and fairness in the peer review system.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:31 Mar 2014 09:14
Last Modified:02 Sep 2017 19:24
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0092896
PubMed ID:24658631

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