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Influence of Reviewer Interaction Network on Long-term Citations: A Case Study of the Scientific Peer-Review System of the Journal of High Energy Physics

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Abstract

A `peer-review system' in the context of judging research contributions, is one of the prime steps undertaken to ensure the quality of the submissions received, a significant portion of the publishing budget is spent towards successful completion of the peer-review by the publication houses. Nevertheless, the scientific community is largely reaching a consensus that peer-review system, although indispensable, is nonetheless flawed. A very pertinent question therefore is "could this system be improved?". In this paper, we attempt to present an answer to this question by considering a massive dataset of around $$29k$$ papers with roughly $$70k$$ distinct review reports together consisting of $$12m$$ lines of review text from the Journal of High Energy Physics (JHEP) between 1997 and 2015. In specific, we introduce a novel \textit{reviewer-reviewer interaction network} (an edge exists between two reviewers if they were assigned by the same editor) and show that surprisingly the simple structural properties of this network such as degree, clustering coefficient, centrality (closeness, betweenness etc.) serve as strong predictors of the long-term citations (i.e., the overall scientific impact) of a submitted paper. These features, when plugged in a regression model, alone achieves a high $$R^2$$ of \0.79 and a low $$RMSE$$ of 0.496 in predicting the long-term citations. In addition, we also design a set of supporting features built from the basic characteristics of the submitted papers, the authors and the referees (e.g., the popularity of the submitting author, the acceptance rate history of a referee, the linguistic properties laden in the text of the review reports etc.), which further results in overall improvement with $$R^2$$ of 0.81 and $$RMSE$$ of 0.46.

Most cited references14

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Who's afraid of peer review?

(2013)
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Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals.

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Bias in peer review

(2013)
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Author and article information

Journal
2017-05-02
Article
1705.01089