Peer review exists to ensure that journals publish good science which is of benefit to entire scientific community.
Sometimes authors find the peer-review process intimidating because it can lead to the rejection of their manuscript. Keep in mind that revisions and improvement are part of the publication process and actually help raise the quality of your manuscript.
Peer review is a positive process
Peer review is an integral part of scientific publishing that confirms the validity of the science reported. Peer reviewers are experts who volunteer their time to help improve the journal manuscripts they review—they offer authors free advice.
Through the peer-review process, manuscripts should become:
- More robust: Peer reviewers may point out gaps in your paper that require more explanation or additional experiments.
- Easier to read: If parts of your paper are difficult to understand, reviewers can tell you so that you can fix them. After all, if an expert cannot understand what you have done, it is unlikely that a reader in a different field will understand.
- More useful: Peer reviewers also consider the importance of your paper to others in your field and can make suggestions to improve or better highlight this to readers.
Of course, in addition to offering authors advice, another important purpose of peer review is to make sure that the manuscripts published in the journal are of the correct quality for the journal’s aims.
Different types of peer review
There are different forms of peer review used by journals, although the basis is always the same, field experts providing comments on a paper to help improve it. The most common types are
Closed – where the reviewers are aware of the authors’ identities but the authors do not know who reviewed their manuscript.
Double blind – in this case neither authors nor reviewers know each other’s identities.
Open – where there reviewers are aware of the authors’ identity and the reviewers’ identity is revealed to the authors. In some cases journals also publish the reviewers’ reports alongside the final published manuscript.