By Tiago Barros
Publons’ Global State of Peer Reviewing report* is the first time we have cross-publisher insights on peer review: who’s doing it; how efficient it is; review quality and the big peer review trends to be worried or excited about.
The report finds;
* getting peer review done is increasingly difficult. Demand is increasing, as the number of submissions to journals grows, and that is concurrent with reviewers becoming less responsive to review invitations. While in 2013 an editor had to invite an average of 1.9 reviewers to get one review done, by the end of 2017 this had increased to an average of 2.4 invitations for every completed review. If this trend continues, by 2025, an average of 3.6 invitations will be required to complete a single review.
* measuring the quality of peer reviews is also extraordinarily challenging, since there is no universally used scoring system for review quality and every publisher has their own way to evaluate the quality of the reviews they receive.
* word-count is a weak, but still useful, proxy of review quality. There is a clear difference in average review length between established (528 words); e.g. Australia, UK, Germany) and emerging (250 words); e.g. India, Turkey, Brazil) regions. The difference between regions may be because reviewers in emerging regions are less comfortable writing in English, the dominant language in scholarly publishing.
* there is a growing appetite from the research community for more open forms of peer review, in which the identity of the reviewers and/or the content of their reports is published alongside the article. 40 per cent of respondents under 26 are likely or highly likely to review for journals that make author and reviewer identities, and review reports, public, compared with only 22.3 per cent of respondents aged between 56–65.
* diversity in peer review is receiving a lot of attention. According to the report, editors are disproportionately selected from established regions and they tend to select reviewers from their own region. Absolute review contributions are growing in all regions, but more rapidly in emerging regions. China, in particular, is rapidly increasing review output.
* Publons Global State of Peer Reviewing report is based on 11 000 peer reviewer responses to a survey, manuscript submission data from peer review workflow tool ScholarOne (used by more 6,700 journals, which collective handle upwards of 2.8 million submissions per year) and the publisher-neutral citation index Web of Science.
Tiago Barros is the Product Lead at Publons (part of Web of Science) in London, UK. His main focus is the development of products bringing more efficiency, transparency and quality to peer-review for publishers and funders.
He spoke at the Australian Publishers Association peer review seminar last week