Quality peer review 'still essential to high scientific standards'

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EDP Sciences has released information on the findings and recommendations of a working group into the peer review process. 

The meeting involved a committee of experts linked to the European Physical Journal (EPJ) including editors-in-chief, associate editors, members of the steering committee and researchers involved in scientific and technical information. EPJ itself represents 25 European physical societies through its Scientific Advisory Committee.

The aim of the workshop, held in Paris in May, was to consider whether peer review is adapting to present day demands and constraints, and to consider and make recommendations to EPJ and its partners regarding new practices and improvements that could be made to their procedures.

EDP Sciences says the workshop confirmed the value of in-depth, quality peer review as an essential part of maintaining the highest possible scientific standards. The huge improvements in availability of information online, only serves to further emphasise the need for this vital filtration service, managed by publishers.

There was consensus that the role of Learned Societies is critical, in not only ensuring transparent evaluation criteria, based on scientific quality and originality, but also in developing broader cultural, economic, technological, and social impact. They called upon Learned Societies to advocate The San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA), within their relevant scientific communities.

Their findings also showed that the quality of refereeing was seen as an important factor in attracting authors to publish in EPJ. The workshop recommended that publication of significant reviewer reports alongside articles - once approval is received from the reviewer and author – would promote transparency of the process, give referees more recognition for their work, and provide a useful service to readers.

Finally, the workshop concluded that the concept of portable peer review – whereby previous referee reports are shared when an article is rejected and submitted to another journal – could represent significant improvements in service to the research community, by shortening processing times, and relieving workload pressures on reviewers.

Jean-Marc Quilbé, president of EDP Sciences, said: 'We are happy to be supporting EPJ with this initiative. Innovations around peer review generate a variety of models, and EDP Sciences will be implementing a number of the working group’s recommendations, including the publication of peer review reports.'

The editors of EPJ stated: 'The quality check by the peer review process is indispensible and our reviewers are invaluable.  EPJ reviewers receive recognition through a certificate, inclusion in the journal’s annual list of reviewers, and a complimentary book.  We are constantly reviewing ways to acknowledge their contribution. The findings of this workshop are likely to capture the attention of many editorial boards, and perhaps even encourage some of them to change their editorial procedures.'