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      Is Open Access

      Rewarding Peer Reviewers: Maintaining the Integrity of Science Communication

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          This article overviews currently available options for rewarding peer reviewers. Rewards and incentives may help maintain the quality and integrity of scholarly publications. Publishers around the world implemented a variety of financial and nonfinancial mechanisms for incentivizing their best reviewers. None of these is proved effective on its own. A strategy of combined rewards and credits for the reviewers1 creative contributions seems a workable solution. Opening access to reviews and assigning publication credits to the best reviews is one of the latest achievements of digitization. Reviews, posted on academic networking platforms, such as Publons, add to the transparency of the whole system of peer review. Reviewer credits, properly counted and displayed on individual digital profiles, help distinguish the best contributors, invite them to review and offer responsible editorial posts.

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          Most cited references 37

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

           Richard Smith (2006)
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            Editorial peer review for improving the quality of reports of biomedical studies.

            Scientific findings must withstand critical review if they are to be accepted as valid, and editorial peer review (critique, effort to disprove) is an essential element of the scientific process. We review the evidence of the editorial peer-review process of original research studies submitted for paper or electronic publication in biomedical journals. To estimate the effect of processes in editorial peer review. The following databases were searched to June 2004: CINAHL, Ovid, Cochrane Methodology Register, Dissertation abstracts, EMBASE, Evidence Based Medicine Reviews: ACP Journal Club, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed. We included prospective or retrospective comparative studies with two or more comparison groups, generated by random or other appropriate methods, and reporting original research, regardless of publication status. We hoped to find studies identifying good submissions on the basis of: importance of the topic dealt with, relevance of the topic to the journal, usefulness of the topic, soundness of methods, soundness of ethics, completeness and accuracy of reporting. Because of the diversity of study questions, viewpoints, methods, and outcomes, we carried out a descriptive review of included studies grouping them by broad study question. We included 28 studies. We found no clear-cut evidence of effect of the well-researched practice of reviewer and/or author concealment on the outcome of the quality assessment process (9 studies). Checklists and other standardisation media have some evidence to support their use (2 studies). There is no evidence that referees' training has any effect on the quality of the outcome (1 study). Different methods of communicating with reviewers and means of dissemination do not appear to have an effect on quality (3 studies). On the basis of one study, little can be said about the ability of the peer-review process to detect bias against unconventional drugs. Validity of peer review was tested by only one small study in a specialist area. Editorial peer review appears to make papers more readable and improve the general quality of reporting (2 studies), but the evidence for this has very limited generalisability. At present, little empirical evidence is available to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of biomedical research. However, the methodological problems in studying peer review are many and complex. At present, the absence of evidence on efficacy and effectiveness cannot be interpreted as evidence of their absence. A large, well-funded programme of research on the effects of editorial peer review should be urgently launched.
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              Why do peer reviewers decline to review? A survey.

              Peer reviewers are usually unpaid and their efforts not formally acknowledged. Some journals have difficulty finding appropriate reviewers able to complete timely reviews, resulting in publication delay. A survey of peer reviewers from five biomedical journals was conducted to determine why reviewers decline to review and their opinions on reviewer incentives. Items were scored on 5-point Likert scales, with low scores indicating low importance or low agreement. 551/890 (62%) reviewers responded. Factors rated most highly in importance for the decision to accept to review a paper included contribution of the paper to subject area (mean 3.67 (standard deviation (SD) 86)), relevance of topic to own work (mean 3.46 (SD 0.99)) and opportunity to learn something new (mean 3.41 (SD 0.96)). The most highly rated factor important in the decision to decline to review was conflict with other workload (mean 4.06 (SD 1.31)). Most respondents agreed that financial incentives would not be effective when time constraints are prohibitive (mean 3.59 (SD 1.01)). However, reviewers agreed that non-financial incentives might encourage reviewers to accept requests to review: free subscription to journal content (mean 3.72 (SD 1.04)), annual acknowledgement on the journal's website (mean 3.64 (SD 0.90)), more feedback about the outcome of the submission (mean 3.62 (SD 0.88)) and quality of the review (mean 3.60 (SD 0.89), and appointment of reviewers to the journal's editorial board (mean 3.57 (SD 0.99)). Reviewers are more likely to accept to review a manuscript when it is relevant to their area of interest. Lack of time is the principal factor in the decision to decline. Reviewing should be formally recognised by academic institutions and journals should acknowledge reviewers' work.

                Author and article information

                J Korean Med Sci
                J. Korean Med. Sci
                Journal of Korean Medical Science
                The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences
                April 2015
                19 March 2015
                : 30
                : 4
                : 360-364
                [1 ]Departments of Rheumatology and Research & Development, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (Teaching Trust of University of Birmingham, UK), Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, UK.
                [2 ]Department of Statistics and Econometrics, Stavropol State Agrarian University, Stavropol, Russian Federation.
                [3 ]Department of Marketing and Trade Deals, Kuban State University, Krasnodar, Russian Federation.
                [4 ]Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.
                Author notes
                Address for Correspondence: Armen Yuri Gasparyan, MD. Departments of Rheumatology and Research & Development, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (Teaching Trust of University of Birmingham, UK), Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley DY1 2HQ, West Midlands, UK. Tel: +44.1384-244842, Fax: +44.1384-244808, a.gasparyan@
                © 2015 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Special Article
                Editing, Writing & Publishing


                open access, science communication, periodicals as topic, publication ethics, rewards, peer review


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