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Handling Peer Review

Understanding Peer Review: Which Type is Best for You?


Dr. Avriel Licciardi, Associate Editor

October 2020

When identifying a target journal for your manuscript submission, it is important to not only consider the journal’s aim and scope, as well as its readership and impact, but also the type of peer review policy the journal supports. This is important as peer review practices vary among scholarly journals. Recently, new models of academic publishing as well as innovative ways of practicing peer review have resulted in dynamism in the scholarly publishing industry. The question is: what does this mean for you?

As peer review continues to evolve, it is essential for you to 1) understand each type of peer review model, and 2) how these models impact your chances of successful publication.

What is peer review?

Peer review is the process of evaluating the quality, validity, and originality of scholarly research articles submitted for publication in an academic journal. Peer review functions as a filter for content, by identifying invalid or poor quality articles, to maintain the integrity of science and the scientific literature. Despite criticisms, the majority of the research community considers peer review the best form of research validation and a pillar for upholding the credibility and integrity of the scientific record.

What are the types of peer review?

The most common types of peer review are single blind, double blind, and open peer review. However, peer review is constantly advancing, and several models of review are currently in use by journals, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. While we provide a brief overview of the basics below, it is always crucial to review a journal’s peer review policies before submission.

A simplified guide to the different models of peer review:

Peer Review Type Basic Details
Single blind Single blind Identity of author is known to the reviewer, but reviewer remains anonymous. Most common form of peer review in STEM journals.
Double blind Double blind Reviewer does not know the identity of the author and vice-versa. Common for social science and humanities journals.
Open review Identities of the author(s) and the reviewers are known by all participants during or after the peer review process.
Transparent review Peer review is posted with the published article. Reviewers select whether they wish to share their identity. Variations of transparent review exist.
Collaborative model Two or more reviewers work together to submit a single reviewer report or author(s) revise manuscript under the supervision of one or more reviewers.
Post-publication Solicited or unsolicited review of a published manuscript. May include other forms of peer review.
Transferrable Transfer of initially rejected manuscript (with peer reviews, if available) to a more suitable journal under the same publisher.

Looking for more details regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different peer review models? Check out this LetPub article: The Ever-Changing Mode of Peer Review.

What is article transfer or transferrable peer review?

Transferrable peer review, also known as article transfer or a manuscript review cascade, allows authors to transfer their article submission from one journal to another for free (within the publisher’s journal family) if they are rejected from their initial submission. If the manuscript was peer-reviewed, the peer reviews will also transfer to the new journal along with the original manuscript files, which will be collectively considered by the new journal’s editor. Benefits of transferrable review include a reduced likelihood that reviewers will be asked to examine the same manuscript several times for different journals, and authors are not required to reformat their manuscript for a new submission.

What is the future of peer review?

Importantly, the peer review process remains integral to academic publishing. The future of the peer review system is grounded in ensuring the integrity of the publishing process through forward-thinking innovations that address the key issues of reliability, transparency, and standardization in peer review. As such, the entire academic community as well as industry leaders will continue to play crucial roles in scholarly publishing, and the impact of new initiatives, such as technological development, will likely revolutionize the future of peer review.

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