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Peer review

peer review, peer reviewed journals
Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work peers It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility In academia, scholarly peer review is often used to determine an academic paper's suitability for publication Peer review can be categorized by the type of activity and by the field or profession in which the activity occurs, eg, medical peer review


  • 1 Professional
  • 2 Scholarly
  • 3 Government policy
  • 4 Medical
  • 5 Process, costs and criticisms
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References


Professional peer review focuses on the performance of professionals, with a view to improving quality, upholding standards, or providing certification In academia, peer review is common in decisions related to faculty advancement and tenure

A prototype professional peer-review process was recommended in the Ethics of the Physician written by Ishāq ibn ʻAlī al-Ruhāwī 854–931 He stated that a visiting physician had to make duplicate notes of a patient's condition on every visit When the patient was cured or had died, the notes of the physician were examined by a local medical council of other physicians, who would decide whether the treatment had met the required standards of medical care

Professional peer review is common in the field of health care, where it is usually called clinical peer review Further, since peer review activity is commonly segmented by clinical discipline, there is also physician peer review, nursing peer review, dentistry peer review, etc Many other professional fields have some level of peer review process: accounting, law, engineering eg, software peer review, technical peer review, aviation, and even forest fire management

Peer review is used in education to achieve certain learning objectives, particularly as a tool to reach higher order processes in the affective and cognitive domains as defined by Bloom's taxonomy This may take a variety of forms, including closely mimicking the scholarly peer review processes used in science and medicine


Main article: Scholarly peer review

Scholarly peer review also known as refereeing is the process of subjecting an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field, before a paper describing this work is published in a journal or as a book The peer review helps the publisher that is, the editor-in-chief or the editorial board decide whether the work should be accepted, considered acceptable with revisions, or rejected Peer review requires a community of experts in a given and often narrowly defined field, who are qualified and able to perform reasonably impartial review Impartial review, especially of work in less narrowly defined or inter-disciplinary fields, may be difficult to accomplish, and the significance good or bad of an idea may never be widely appreciated among its contemporaries Peer review is generally considered necessary to academic quality and is used in most major scientific journals, but does by no means prevent publication of all invalid research Traditionally, peer reviewers have been anonymous, but there is currently a significant amount of open peer review, where the comments are visible to readers, generally with the identities of the peer reviewers disclosed as well

Government policy

Further information: US Government peer review policies

The European Union has been using peer review in the 'Open Method of Co-ordination' of policies in the fields of active labour market policy since 1999 In 2004, a program of peer reviews started in social inclusion Each program sponsors about eight peer review meetings in each year, in which a 'host country' lays a given policy or initiative open to examination by half a dozen other countries and the relevant European-level NGOs These usually meet over two days and include visits to local sites where the policy can be seen in operation The meeting is preceded by the compilation of an expert report on which participating 'peer countries' submit comments The results are published on the web

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, through UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews, uses the technique of peer review to evaluate progress made by its member countries in improving their environmental policies

The State of California is the only US state to mandate scientific peer review In 1997, the California Governor signed into law Senate Bill 1320 Sher, Chapter 295, statutes of 1997, which mandates that, before any CalEPA Board, Department, or Office adopts a final version of a rule-making, the scientific findings, conclusions, and assumptions on which the proposed rule are based must be submitted for independent external scientific peer review This requirement is incorporated into the California Health and Safety Code Section 57004


For more details on this topic, see Medical peer review

Medical peer review may refer to clinical peer review, or the peer evaluation of clinical teaching skills for both physicians and nurses, or scientific peer review of journal articles, or to a secondary round of peer review for the clinical value of articles concurrently published in medical journals "Medical peer review" has been used by the American Medical Association to refer not only to the process of improving quality and safety in health care organizations, but also to the process of rating clinical behavior or compliance with professional society membership standards Thus, the terminology has poor standardization and specificity, particularly as a database search term

Process, costs and criticisms

It has been argued that peer review is impossible to define in operational terms, someone performing the exact same research could just as easily be a financial competitor as a collaborator, creating potential for conflict of interest Definitions of what constitute the review process may vary across journals and disciplines A study by the BMJ inserted deliberate errors into publication which successfully avoided fact checking

Journals may take over a year to publish Most reviewers are not paid, with the cost of review for the BMJ estimated at £100 per paper On average the academic community pays roughly $5000 for access to a peer reviewed paper

There is strong evidence of bias against women in the process of awarding grants The editorial peer review process has also been strongly biased against `negative studies', those findings where in intervention does not work

One randomized trial found blinding reviewers to the identity of authors improved the quality of reviews, although this presented a means of experimentally assessing peer review, two later studies found contrary findings that blinding reviewers improved the quality of reviews These studies also showed that such blinding is difficult to achieve, and that reviewers could identify the authors in about a quarter to a third of cases

See also

  • Adversarial review
  • Collaborative document review
  • Objectivity philosophy
  • Peer group
  • Software peer review
  • Technical peer review


  1. ^ Spier, Ray 2002 "The history of the peer-review process" Trends in Biotechnology 20 8: 357–8 doi:101016/S0167-77990201985-6 PMID 12127284 
  2. ^ Dans, PE 1993 "Clinical peer review: burnishing a tarnished image" PDF Ann Intern Med 118 7: 566–8 doi:107326/0003-4819-118-7-199304010-00014 PMID 8442628 
  3. ^ Milgrom P, Weinstein P, Ratener P, Read WA, Morrison K; Weinstein; Ratener; Read; Morrison 1978 "Dental Examinations for Quality Control: Peer Review versus Self-Assessment" Am J Public Health 68 4: 394–401 doi:102105/AJPH684394 PMC 1653950 PMID 645987  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  4. ^ "AICPA Peer Review Manual" American Institute of CPAs Retrieved October 4, 2010 
  5. ^ 2012 Peer Review Program Manual
  6. ^ "Peer Review" UK Legal Services Commission Retrieved October 4, 2010 
  7. ^ "Peer Review Ratings" Martindale Retrieved October 4, 2010 
  8. ^ "Peer Review Panels – Purpose and Process" PDF USDA Forest Service February 6, 2006 Retrieved October 4, 2010 
  9. ^ Sims Gerald K 1989 "Student Peer Review in the Classroom: A Teaching and Grading Tool" PDF Journal of Agronomic Education 18: 105–108 The review process was double-blind to provide anonymity for both authors and reviewers, but was otherwise handled in a fashion similar to that used by scientific journals 
  10. ^ Liu, Jianguo; Pysarchik, Dawn Thorndike; Taylor, William W 2002 "Peer Review in the Classroom" PDF BioScience 52 9: 824–829 doi:101641/0006-3568200205220CO;2 
  11. ^ Mutual Learning Programme – Peer Reviews
  12. ^ Peer Review and Assessment in Social Inclusion—Evaluations par les pairs
  13. ^ Medschoolucsfedu
  14. ^ Ludwick R, Dieckman BC, Herdtner S, Dugan M, Roche M; Dieckman; Herdtner; Dugan; Roche November–December 1998 "Documenting the scholarship of clinical teaching through peer review" Nurse Educ 23 6: 17–20 doi:101097/00006223-199811000-00008 PMID 9934106  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  15. ^ Haynes RB, Cotoi C, Holland J, et al 2006 "Second-order peer review of the medical literature for clinical practitioners" JAMA 295 15: 1801–8 doi:101001/jama295151801 PMID 16622142 
  16. ^ page 131
  17. ^ Ama-assnorg Archived March 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Wenneras C, Wold A May 22, 1997 "Nepotism and sexism in peer-review" Nature 3876631: 341–3  CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
  19. ^ Richard Smith April 2006 "Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals" Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 199: 178–182 doi:101258/jrsm994178 
  20. ^ McNutt RA, Evans AT, Fletcher RH, Fletcher SW Mar 9, 1990 "The effects of blinding on the quality of peer review A randomized trial" JAMA 263 10: 1371–6 doi:101001/jama201611014  CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
  21. ^ Justice AC, Cho MK, Winker MA, Berlin JA, Rennie D 1998 "The PEER investigators Does masking author identity improve peer review quality: a randomised controlled trial" JAMA 280: 240–2  CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
  22. ^ van Rooyen S, Godlee F, Evans S, Smith R, Black N 1998 "Effect of blinding and unmasking on the quality of peer review: a randomised trial" JAMA 280: 234–7  CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link

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