Increasing transparency in peer review


APAME 2017 in Vientiane,  Laos


"Transparency in Review" is the theme of this year's Peer Review Week, which is a global event held from 11 to 17 September 2017 to celebrate the importance of the role of peer review in maintaining the quality of the world's science and its scholarly communications.

The process of peer review can seem like a black box to authors wanting to submit manuscripts to journals, as well as to researchers hoping to become peer reviewers. Transparency has different meanings, but, for a start, peer reviewers and potential peer reviewers need to know what is actually involved, so that they can perform a good review in the way that journals and the research community expect. Readers also need to know whether and how what they are reading was peer reviewed. Indeed, clarity of the peer review process is a criterion in the checklist of how to identify a trustworthy journal.

Peer review training is important in learning about the publishing procedure at peer-reviewed journals, how to read a paper efficiently and critically, and how to write a professional peer review report that hopefully helps journals, authors, and readers. Researchers need to be able to provide effective and ethical peer review of other researchers' scholarly outputs as a mutual quality-assurance step and as a way of giving back to their research community, developing their career skills, and keeping up-to-date in their field.

Receiving regular peer review training is important in raising awareness of the new types of peer review that journals are using and relevant international developments and initiatives. Attending some of the various online and live activities during and around the annual Peer Review Week is an excellent way to do this.

On behalf of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), I recently presented seminars on ethical publishing and peer review at the annual meetings of the Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (in Vientiane, Laos, on 18-19 August 2017) and the Research Managers and Administrators Network--Japan (in Tokushima, Japan, on 30 August 2017). I also took part as a discussion facilitator in case discussions on peer review, authorship, and manuscript preparation in the 2017 Asia Pacific Meeting of the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (in Tokyo, Japan, on 5 September 2017). On 30 July 2017, I led interactive case discussions on peer review at the 2017 Wiley Executive Seminar in Tokyo, using three cases on peer review ethics from the COPE Forum archive of cases.

As part of Peer Review Week 2017, COPE is holding a free webinar for COPE members, on "Current Issues in Peer Review" on Thursday, 14 September 2017.

On behalf of Edanz Group, I will be holding two free webinars during Peer Review Week 2017 for early-career researchers: one on 11 September and one on 13 September, 7:00pm to 7:45pm Japan Standard Time. The webinars are open to all and will provide a chance to find out more about peer review and how to become an effective peer reviewer (click here for the registration site). Learning about journal peer reviewing will not only enable you to donate your expertise to help the research community maintain the quality of scholarly communications, but also give you tips into what journals are looking for in manuscript submissions and how to write better research manuscripts in the future. There will be time at the end of each webinar to type questions, but if you would like to email questions in advance, you are welcome to contact me at <>.

The outlines of the two Edanz Group webinars during Peer Review Week are as follows:

Webinar 1: How to Peer Review a Paper

DATE: 11 September 2017

TIME: 7:00pm - 7:45pm (JST)

 By the end of this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Explain the main aims and models of peer review
  • Describe some best practices in peer review
  • Practice how to efficiently read a research paper
  • Analyze roles of each section of a research paper
  • Identify common problems in research papers

Webinar 2: How to Write a Peer Review Report

DATE: 13 September 2017

TIME: 7:00pm - 7:45pm (JST)

By the end of this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Identify logical flaws in academic arguments
  • Structure a peer review report
  • Formulate and communicate constructive feedback
  • Judge the target audience and style for your report
  • Edit and proofread your report

I hope to meet you online at the webinars!

Dr Trevor Lane
Education Director and Senior Publishing Consultant
Edanz Group

Note: Edanz Group is a corporate associate member of COPE, and Dr Trevor Lane is an individual associate member and Council Member of COPE. COPE is a founding and contributing organization of Think. Check. Submit. Edanz Group contributed to some of the checklist translations on the Think. Check. Submit website.

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