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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-6

Transparency in peer review – is this an emerging trend?

1 Department of Physiology, J.N.Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Oral Pathology and Microbiology, KLE VKIDS, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission02-Jan-2022
Date of Decision08-Jan-2022
Date of Acceptance12-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication24-Jan-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harpreet Kour
Department of Physiology, J.N.Medical College, KLE Academy of Higher Education and Research, Nehru Nagar, Belagavi - 590 010, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_74_22

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How to cite this article:
Kour H, Angadi P. Transparency in peer review – is this an emerging trend?. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res 2022;15:4-6

How to cite this URL:
Kour H, Angadi P. Transparency in peer review – is this an emerging trend?. Indian J Health Sci Biomed Res [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 6];15:4-6. Available from: https://www.ijournalhs.org/text.asp?2022/15/1/4/336310

Publication of the paper in peer-reviewed scientific journals has been tremendously increased over few years. A huge transformation has been observed in whole process of publication of the manuscript. The technical advancements have eased down the whole process to electronic submission, digital proofing, and publications. This in turn has exponentially increased the publishing of scientific manuscripts and thus a demand of expert peer reviewers also.[1],[2]

  What is Peer Review? Top

Peer review is the process of allowing an author's scientific work, research, or ideas to the examined and evaluated by other experts in the similar field. Peer review is defined as process of scientific critique of the manuscript by two or more subject experts. Peer review is a significant aspect of scientific developments. It is usually unbiased, independent, critical assessment of the IMRAD structure of the scientific research. Peer-review process is internationally accepted benchmark for ensuring quality, the integrity of the scholarly data, and excellence in scientific research.[3],[4]

  Who are Peer Reviewers? Top

Peer reviewers play a very imperative role in the process of reviewing a paper. The reviewers are selected on various criteria including their area of expertise, availability, prior timely submissions of reports, and quality feedback. The reviewers are usually given the time of 1 month to review a manuscript. Depending upon the feedback obtained from the peer reviewers, the editor will take decision on rejection or acceptance of the manuscript.

They ensure the scientific contents of the manuscript and their comments help strengthening the paper for publication. The reviewers put huge amount of efforts in terms of time and energy, but this job is voluntary, unpaid, and not recognized in any forum. The peer-review process is actually a daunting task, but unfortunately, no formal training has been included in graduate or postgraduate curricula. Most of the time, this process is self-learned by the researchers while publishing and correcting their own submitted papers.[2],[3],[4],[5]

  Changing Trend in Peer-Review Process Top

Traditionally, the peer-review process has been closed in scientific publishing where the editor compiles the comments of all the reviewers and sends the manuscript to the author for revision without revealing the identity of the reviewers. The reviewers remain an unsung hero of the reviewed manuscript.

Recently, this practice has shown a changing trend as “Transparency in Review.” Transparent peer review shows the complete peer-review process from initial review to final decision. This means that alongside the published article, readers can see a full peer-review history, including reviewer reports, editor decision letters, and the authors' responses. The authors are given an option to choose this model at the time of manuscript submission.[3],[4],[5]

  What is Transparency in Peer Review? Top

The transparency in peer review will give clarity regarding editorial decisions as to how, why, and what was done with regard to the manuscript submitted. How was the peer review done, how many reviewers looked at the work? What were the comments made and what was accepted by the reviewers for the betterment of the manuscript? Why was the decision to publish or not publish made?

  Why is Transparency Needed in Peer Review? Top

  • Trust has always been at the epicenter of scholarly publication, but with the numerous predatory publishers on the prowl who publish papers with no or cursory peer review and also cases of retraction of articles because of fake or inadequate peer review, the confidence in peer review as well as in scientific findings itself has somewhat dwindled. This reader's confidence can be greatly restored if the process of peer review is opened up by allowing them to see the content and quality of peer reviews
  • The peer-review process may not be always efficient in all the journals. The reviewers are not recognized and are busy researchers themselves, so they may not give priority to the review. But, in a transparent review, since the names of the reviewers are mentioned, they may do a thorough job.[2],[3]

  What are the Advantages of Transparent Peer Review? Top

  • The transparency in peer review may contribute to increase the quality of the reviews in a timely manner as it will be read by many, and could also aid teaching of best practice in peer review. By making the files open for everyone to see and cite, reviewers are encouraged to provide critical but fair and constructive comment
  • Potential to advance research integrity and reproducibility: It would be a great and simple way to address the problem of “predatory” journals. If the peer-review reports are published along with the articles, it would help researchers to discriminate between reputable journals and those that are predatory. Transparent peer review allows the reader to see how the science unraveled. This in turn can spark discussions and alliances that might not have otherwise occurred questionable or carrying out insufficient peer review
  • An opportunity for training: An opportunity for training: By allowing the readers to gain insight into the peer review process may be of educational value, especially for new and early career researchers. This can be learnt through tangible illustrations of reviewer reports and author responses to those reports. Early-career researchers who are new to reviewing papers can train themselves to review optimally by analyzing the editorial process on published papers in their area of research
  • Transparent peer review provides professional context for scientific literature for the nonexpert reader, journalists, and policymakers. Those entities that assess research such as funders and institutions can use reviewer reports to assess the strength and significance of a study, rather than relying on the journal brand as a proxy for quality
  • Greater visibility and recognition for peer reviewers: It would also permit credit for reviewers, which currently is a service that is performed without incentives or rewards – individual DOI given to the reviewer report that can be read and cited too
  • Transparency in peer review can aid the editors in their endeavor to maintain impartiality and remove any possible bias in decision-making. This process can increase the accountability of authors, reviewers, and editors in scientific publishing.[3],[4],[5]

  What could be the Concerns and will this Practice Catch on? Top

  • There may be an inherent risk of reviewers feeling reserved from making critical comments for fear of retaliation. Whether the advantages overshadow the risks is a continuing concern?
  • Further, this model by itself may not be a lasting solution for problems associated with peer-review system
  • Scientific and academic communities may not be open to adapt to this new method of peer review.

  Who are Practicing this Model? Top

Transparent peer-review model is extensively practiced by Nature Research Journals, Elsevier, Springer EMBO, etc.

  Conclusion Top

By supporting transparent model of peer-review process, we will be taking a step forward toward increased openness, accountability, and trust in whole of the publication process. The peer reviewers who invest good amount of time and their expertise to review an article, draft constructive comments for betterment of the manuscript without any personal interest will get recognized and credited for their shrouded contribution to the publication process. This model will also ease the decision-making process. Considering these factors, this emerging trend seems here to stay.[4],[5],[6],[7]

  References Top

Transparency in peer review. Nat Hum Behav 2019;3:1237.  Back to cited text no. 1
Stahel PF, Moore EE. Peer review for biomedical publications: We can improve the system. BMC Med 2014;12:179.  Back to cited text no. 2
Justman Q. A necessary complement to transparent peer review: Editorial transparency. Cell Syst 2019;9:1-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Responsibilities in the Submission and Peer-Review Process. International Committee of Medical Journal Editors; 2013. Available from: https://www.icmje.org/recommendations/browse/roles-andresponsibilities/responsibilities-in-the-submission-and-peer-peview-process.html. [Last acessed on 2022 Jan 06].  Back to cited text no. 4
COPE Council. COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers English. Version 2; September, 2017. Available from: https://doi.org/10.24318/cope0.2019.1.9. [Last accessed on 2022 Jan 06].  Back to cited text no. 5
Lovejoy TI, Revenson TA, France CR. Reviewing manuscripts for peer-review journals: A primer for novice and seasoned reviewers. Ann Behav Med 2011;42:1-13.  Back to cited text no. 6
Haffar S, Bazerbachi F, Hassan Murad M. Peer review bias: A critical review. Mayo Clin Proc 2019;94:670-6.  Back to cited text no. 7


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  In this article
  What is Peer Review?
   Who are Peer Rev...
   Changing Trend i...
   What is Transpar...
   Why is Transpare...
   What are the Adv...
   What could be th...
   Who are Practici...

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