Recognition for peer review

Jac KeronEditorial office

The theme of this year’s Peer Review Week is ‘Recognition for review’. Though the value of peer review in academic journal publishing is well acknowledged, it seems that those who are performing the reviews are not being given the same recognition.

A 2015 survey by Wiley on the peer-review experience of journal reviewers has been interesting reading.  The survey found that ‘reviewers strongly believe that reviewing is inadequately acknowledged at present’. The next sentence in the article is perhaps even more attention-grabbing to those of us involved in managing the journal peer-review process: ‘respondents say they would spend more time reviewing if their institution recognised this task’.

Finding suitable and willing reviewers is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks in editorial office. We need to find researchers who have the required expertise and who are willing to give up their time to evaluate an article. Last year, we received over 1600 reviews (new submissions only) across four journals for one client. For another client, we found reviewers for over 1400 articles over a 15-month period.

As peer review is, more often than not, unpaid and entirely voluntary, we feel that reviewers should absolutely be getting the recognition they deserve for their hours of service to the research community.

But what is the best way of recognising reviewers? There are a few initiatives out there:

Acknowledgement: Reviewers can be acknowledged in the journal itself (for example, in an annual list of reviewers), or be given a certificate of review (something all of the journals we work for do, upon request).

Feedback: All of the journals we work for provide feedback to the reviewers. When the final decision is made, they are informed of the final outcome and are given the comments of the other reviewer(s), which can help them evaluate their own review and develop their reviewing skills.

Performance rewards: Awards and prizes can be given to the ‘best’ reviewers.

Credit: Performing reviews can earn accreditation points (for example, for organisations such as the CPD Certification Service) and completed reviews can be added to a reviewer’s profile on online peer-review recognition platforms such as Publons and Elsevier’s Reviewer Recognition.

Payment (cash):  The journal and/or the publisher can pay money directly to the reviewer upon review completion.

Payment (in kind):  The publisher can incentivise reviewers with Open Access publication discounts, colour printing discounts, free access to the journal for a set period of time or to a set number of articles, or book discounts (one of our clients currently offers a discount on book purchases for reviewers upon submitting their comments).

Our infographic shows which kinds of recognition reviewers like – and one in particular that they don’t appear to be interested in!

Recognising peer review: infographic