Peer review: how does it work?
There are many accepted conventions in the way the peer review process is carried out, some of which may be defined by the academic discipline or the policies of a particular journal. However the role of the editor is always crucially important. It is the editor who handles communications between the researcher submitting the manuscript and the referees who have been asked to review it. In the majority of cases the referees will remain anonymous, and it will be the editor who conveys their opinions and recommendations. The function of peer review is not simply to weed out and prevent the dissemination of poor research.
Quite often the reviewers will suggest how improvements could be made to the paper. As the editor will be receiving comments from a number of reviewers, which may not all be in agreement, he or she will have to make the final decision on what changes need to be made if it is to be accepted for publication.
The editor may however reject the paper outright if the reviews are too critical or if the suggested changes are too numerous or extensive. If this is the case, the author(s) will probably be grateful for feedback from the referees, to judge the criteria used in rejecting it, as it may be possible to:
- Redraft the manuscript extensively and resubmit or
- If the paper has failed to meet the acceptance criteria of prestigious journal title, to make amendments and resubmit the manuscript to another journal where competition to get published may not be so great.
PILOT - Communication by Marion Kelt, GCU, Imperial College, London and East Midlands Research Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.