Download icon

Meta-Research: Journal policies and editors' opinions on peer review

  1. Daniel G Hamilton  Is a corresponding author
  2. Hannah Fraser
  3. Rink Hoekstra
  4. Fiona Fidler
  1. University of Melbourne, Australia
  2. University of Groningen, Netherlands
Feature Article
  • Cited 0
  • Views 704
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e62529 doi: 10.7554/eLife.62529

Abstract

Peer review practices differ substantially between journals and disciplines. This study presents the results of a survey of 322 editors of journals in ecology, economics, medicine, physics and psychology. We found that 49% of the journals surveyed checked all manuscripts for plagiarism, that 61% allowed authors to recommend both for and against specific reviewers, and that less than 2% used a form of open peer review. Most journals did not have an official policy on altering reports from reviewers, but 91% of editors identified at least one situation in which it was appropriate for an editor to alter a report. Editors were also asked for their views on five issues related to publication ethics. A majority expressed support for co-reviewing, reviewers requesting access to data, reviewers recommending citations to their work, editors publishing in their own journals, and replication studies. Our results provide a window into what is largely an opaque aspect of the scientific process. We hope the findings will inform the debate about the role and transparency of peer review in scholarly publishing.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Daniel G Hamilton

    School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    For correspondence
    hamilton.d@unimelb.edu.au
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8104-474X
  2. Hannah Fraser

    School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2443-4463
  3. Rink Hoekstra

    Department of Educational Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1588-7527
  4. Fiona Fidler

    School of BioSciences, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Ethics

Human subjects: Both surveys were reviewed and approved the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Science Human Ethics Advisory Group (Project ID: 1954490.1) prior to distribution. All participants were provided detailed information about the purpose of the study, and informed that information on routine peer review policies and practices at their journal, as well as their views on some publication ethics issues were going to be collected. Informed consent was obtained from participants prior to beginning each survey.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Peter Rodgers, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: September 11, 2020
  2. Accepted: November 18, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 19, 2020 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2020, Hamilton et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

Metrics

  • 704
    Page views
  • 77
    Downloads
  • 0
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)