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In this article we will discuss some different types of peer reviews and how they are used in academic settings today.
What is a Peer Review?
Peer review is a method of evaluating the work of one’s peers. This may be done informally by colleagues in academia, or more formally as part of an examination process.
The term “peer review” can also refer to the evaluation that professionals in various fields have conducted on themselves for quality assurance purposes, such as journal editors who publish material written by other academics.
The Purpose of the Peer Review Process
During a peer review, the authors of an article submit their work for commentary by peers. This commentary, may include constructive criticism, suggestions regarding errors or omissions that should be addressed before publication can occur, or downright rejection.
The first goal of peer review is to ensure that articles are not plagiarised and that they contain novel or important work.
The process must ensure a high quality publication in journals, with ethical standards for reporting research findings which will be free from as many errors as possible. It may also include advice about how these problems could have been avoided at some stage during the research process.
The purpose of peer review may also be seen in the context of validating an author’s work. Peer Reviewers are often required to supply criticism about a manuscript’s validity. This does not necessarily correlate with knowledge of the subject or scientific accuracy. There exist many pseudo-scientific publications that use peer review.
Types of Peer Review
There are many different types of peer review, each with their own pros and cons.
In this next section, we will give you a brief overview of the different types of peer review. At the end of each section, you can click through to a dedicated article about each review type for even more information.
Open Peer Review
Open peer review is a methodology where both reviewers and authors are mutually aware of each other during the review process.
Closed Peer Review
Closed Peer review is a methodology where the reviewers identities are not disclosed, either to the authors or to the journal that they are published in. Closed Peer Reviews can consist of either the single blind or double blind review method.
Single Blind Review
A single blind peer review, the author does not know who the reviewers are, however, the reviewers know who the author is.
Double Blind Review
A double blind peer review is similar to the single blind review method. Not only does the author not know who the reviewers are, but the reviewers also don’t know who the author is.
Collaborative Peer Review
In a collaborative peer review, both parties – the author(s) and reviewer(s) can interact with each other. Typically, the journal platforms will offer a platform for the collaboration to facilitate publication of the review.
Transparent Peer Review
A transparent peer review is similar to the open peer review, but takes it one step further. From the initial review, up until it is published, readers can see the full peer review history including author and reviewer correspondence up until publication.
Post Publication Peer Review
The peer reviews that have been discussed already all use a process where publications are peer reviewed before publication. From the name, it is hardly surprising to learn that post publication peer review happens after publication.
Any of the Peer review methods mentioned above all rely on one thing – they are reviewed by somebody else. A non-peer review is exactly as it sounds; it is an article/journal that hasn’t been reviewed at all.
Which Peer Review Method is Best?
There is no ‘right’ answer to this question and in fact, the best peer review method is the one that makes sense for a given situation.
All the methods discussed here have their pros and cons, and there are reasons why different publications choose a different type of peer review. At Alethes.net, we publish fundamental ideas on human behaviour, so we have chosen a type of transparent, post-publication peer review. Click here to find out more.
To learn more about the different types and pros of cons associated with each Peer review, be sure to check out each of our dedicated articles!
How long does the Peer Review process take?
There is no typical answer to this question, as it very much depends on the circumstances. However, the process of peer review can be lengthy, as it depends on the subject matter and the number of reviewers required, so is likely to take weeks or even a few months.
How can the peer review process be more effective?
The types of peer reviews discussed in this article all have their pros and cons, and each type should be considered for specific scenarios. However, if by ‘effectiveness’ we mean the ability to advance science, then peer review can be improved by using the internet. Peer review does not need to be limited to a small, local group of peers who could be defending their own biases and interests.
Peer review can also be manipulated, especially when it is a closed system and it is difficult to verify the accuracy of information. There can be fake peer reviews, citation manipulation and collusion among all sorts of experts who may have the best intentions.