Timeliness is an important attribute of peer reviewing. The reason is because when this process is completed in time user will get information promptly. The phase in which this process is being done has been of great concern and it has been proposed that something need to be done. According to “A report to the JISC scholarly Communication group” the peer review has been discussed at length in most of established texts on the communication process, such as Ziman (1968), Ravetz (1973) and Maedows (1974) (p.1). Despite essentiality of this review, it has been criticized of ineffective and misconception. Also there has been a problem of delay in reviewing the scholarly work, research papers or ideas in most disciplines.
Overview of peer Review
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Peer Review refers to the process of evaluating author’s scholarly work, research or an idea. This evaluation is done by expertise in the discipline under which the publication work will focus on. The parliamentary office of science and technology in their article “postnote” defined peer review as the process used to determine how science funding is allocated which research is published and where it is published (p. 1). There are two approaches of peer review used currently, they include; single blind-review which the author’s identity is known to reviewers but identity of reviewer is not disclosed to authors. The second one is double blind-review in which authors don’t know who reviewers of their work are and also reviewers from their side they don’t know authors of the work they review. This approach is the most encouraged to maintain dignity of the review process. It can generally be agreed that peer review is assessment carried out in academic discipline to ensure that information released is of high quality and maintains the integrity in scholarship.
Reviewing of these scholarly publications is very important. It ensures that published articles are of high eminence, the reflect scholarship theme in their respective discipline and standards are maintained in terms of accuracy depending on the research carried out. According to Weiten (2008) the purpose of the peer review process is to ensure that journals publish reliable findings based on high quality research (p. 44). It is clear that the main concern of peer review is keeping the standards in writing discipline high and giving valuable and reliable information to the public.
Peer review in UK is purposed for allocation of research funding, the report of review is very crucial for funding bodies to help them in making decisions. Publication of research in scientific journals is also determined by the peer review. This done to control what scientist enters in public domain by assessing the influence and effect it may have. The importance of this review clear especially in UK where it is used for formulation of UK policies and decision making.
Review process adheres to continuum of formality with relatively unstructured activities at one end of continuum and more formal approaches at the other end. This process begins when an article to be reviewed is submitted. This article is presented to a group of expertise in that particular discipline. This process is performed “blindly”, in which reviewer don’t know personal details of the author. On the other hand the author doesn’t is not aware of the experts who review their work.
Peer review applies to number several scholars writings, but the critical one is publication of academic journals articles. This review is not limited to only journal articles, it is also done in other fields like checking of the standard of conference presentation material, monographs, and even as a criteria of awarding contracts and grants.
There has been allegation that the whole process of review is not transparent and thus some authors are victimized because of personal issues with editors. It has also been argued that most reviewers tend to be critical of conclusion that contradicts their own view. On the other hand peer review fails when it is assumed that all article reviewed has been honestly written, and the process whole procedure is not for detecting default.
The most obvious critic of the peer review is slowness. It takes some months or even years for an article presented for review to be published. Though this is not common in all field but its evident in many. According to Harnad (1982) there is substantial disagreement in scientist evaluation of the work of peers (p. 1). Communication is also complained to be ineffective throughout the process of review. This leaves the authors unaware of what is happening and thus can’t plan for anything.
Peer review delay problem is of major concern in the whole review process. In addition to this critical issue there are other argumentative factors in the review process. According Borgman (2007) the value of confidentiality, the degree of fairness and objectivity, and the ability of the process to detect inaccuracies and fraud is a major challenge of peer review (2007). This delay makes the review to be unreliable and has even risen the question of if there is real evidence that it actually works. The ability to detect errors in article is also of great concern to credit the review process. It may also be difficult for reviewers to access the original documents used by authors and thus they have to take in some element of trust.
The reviewers also normally reproduce the articles of the author before publishing it. This has brought the issue on of credibility of reviewers and trust authors can have to the review. It is also possible that when unpublished data is presented to reviewers it may bypass the review process. Even after publication of results which are inaccurate the outcome doesn’t suggest that a peer review was unsuccessful. Shatz (2004) explains that it hardly seems necessary to point out that some peer reviewed articles are accepted with minimal revisions, suggesting that peer review is not always necessary to improve quality, and that a paper might be of high quality even before the review process (p. 126). This shows that there are many challenges of the review process and the issues have been debated with many are of view that, change be implemented.
To counter this delay problem in peer review both reviewers and authors must be working hand in hand. This may be challenged since is believed that reviewers should not know the authors of the work they review and also authors should not know who reviews their job. But when they work together throughout the review process, the time delay can be eliminated. Authors should get their work reviewed phase by phase or constantly consult in compiling the article so that by the time they complete, it wouldn’t take long in reviewer’s desk. On the other hand expertises who are reviewers should often give guideline to the authors so that they don’t make mistakes which are avoidable. This collaboration can effectively reduce time taken in the review process which can be of great benefit to both reviewers and authors.
Through that relationship, there are many benefits which can be accrued. When review is done in time authors will benefit by assistant offered by reviewers. This helps them to improve on the area commented to be weak by experts and eventually when they publish their work will be with high peer review standards. Also apart from focusing the benefits to reviewers and authors, the review process also has other advantages. One obvious fact is improved quality of published papers. This is assured because reviewers’ comments and criticism are addressed by the author when revising thus providing avenue of producing perfect work. The other advantage of review is regulating what is being published. The review process filters the presented articles and ensures that only those are of benefit to readers are published. Also there is credibility that published work is of standard and has been approved by the experts. This is very important to the readers who have a notion that quality work has to bear approval from experts in its discipline. The benefits of this collaboration are many and should be emphasized in order enhanced the speed with which the review process is done.
In conclusion it is clear that there is commitment in supporting the peer review to maintain dignity in the academic writing. Vast majority believes that this process helps in scientific communication and improves the quality of published papers. Though some scholar have questioned the credibility of the process of review just as Sulkys (1999) explains the continued dissatisfaction has led some commentators to conclude that the entire system should be overhauled (p. 388). Therefore peer review can be debated from different perspectives, focusing either to its cons or pros. But one important perspective of increasing its efficiency is to minimize the delays in entire process.