Reducing the peer-reviewer’s burden

Reducing the peer-reviewer's burden

Nature Chemical Biology ( 6, 307; 2010) asks in its May Editorial: what can be done to reduce the burden on scientific referees while ensuring the continuity and quality of peer review? Peer review, in which scientists critically evaluate ideas, results and scientific models, is central to all scientific discourse and especially critical for ensuring the quality of the scientific literature. Researchers profit from the peer review process in their roles as authors, where it improves their published papers. They also benefit as referees by getting a broad view of leading studies in their field and by enhancing the rigor  … Read more

What Nature Chemical Biology asks of its reviewers

What Nature Chemical Biology asks of its reviewers

Excerpted from Nature Chemical Biology 6, 245 (2010). Peer review remains the primary mechanism for maintaining high standards and ensuring the completeness and accuracy of scientific studies. It also provides practical feedback to authors, which leads to better papers in the scientific literature. Over the years, the editorial team and Nature Chemical Biology authors have been fortunate to work with a diverse and conscientious group of referees. These scientists have consistently provided us with timely and thoughtful feedback on the novelty, technical merit and potential significance of manuscripts. Here, we discuss some specific aspects of how the peer review process  … Read more

Nature Medicine peers into review

Nature Medicine peers into review

In its March Editorial, Peering into review, Nature Medicine addresses how the peer review process can be frustrating to researchers eager to get their work published. Changes to the process might be warranted, says the journal —but only if they are based in fact, not conjecture. The Editorial discusses a recent “open letter” written by a group of stem-cell researchers about what they see as obstructive and unreasonable reviews delaying publication of their research. From the Editorial: Publication of referees’ comments in full may affect the quality of the reviews, leading to more cautious and restrained comments. It is difficult  … Read more

Nature Genetics wants proportional representation

Nature Genetics wants proportional representation

This is a shortened version of the Editorial in the March issue of Nature Genetics (42, 187; 2010). Nature Genetics publishes papers from a very broad geographical catchment, and we invite peer referees from among the world’s best genetics researchers in order to attract and publish papers of a uniformly high standard. We need to do more to recruit outstanding referees from under-represented regions. Editors make lab visits and meet authors at conferences not only to learn about research that is ready to be published in the journal, but also to hear critical comments from authors about research published in  … Read more

What Nature Physics wants

Peer review is the cornerstone of scientific publishing. But it isn’t always clear exactly what Nature Physics expects of its referees. The journal explains in its November Editorial (5, 775; 2009). “Whatever you think about a paper, it is vital to explain to us exactly why you think it. Your colleagues among the other reviewers may disagree with your assessment, and we do not base our decisions on a show of hands. Hence detailed critiques carry more weight in informing our decisions than terse affirmations one way or the other (in most cases we would disregard the latter, regardless of who supplied it).  Read more

Nature Chemistry on improving peer review

Perceived lapses in the peer-review process often receive a lot of attention, but the majority of researchers declare themselves satisfied with the system even though they would like to improve it. If it is imperfect or broken, how do we fix it? This question is addressed in the November Editorial of Nature Chemistry ( 1, 585; 2009), in light of some blog commentaries which identified prior publications that had not been referenced in a journal paper.  Read more

Myles Allen on planetary boundaries and peer review

This post is by Myles Allen of the University of Oxford: As a vocal supporter of the traditional system of scientists communicating through peer-reviewed channels ( Nat. Geosci. 1, 209; 2008 and associated debate at Peer-to-Peer), I was hesitant about writing a critical Commentary on the Feature ‘A safe operating space for humanity’ by Johan Rockström et al in the 24 September issue of Nature (Nature 461, 472-475; 2009) in a non-peer-reviewed forum. The Nature and Nature Reports Climate Change editors had clearly thought through this argument: the Feature was not itself peer-reviewed, so no golden rules would be broken  … Read more

NSMB speaks up for peer-reviewers

Manuscript peer reviewing is at the heart of the scientific system, but it seems that these duties are often not properly (if at all) recognized by universities, funding agencies or even the rest of the scientific community. This is the main message of the September Editorial in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, ‘The Unsung Reviewer’ (16, 899; 2009) The Editorial notes:  … Read more