Curriculum and assessment design


This editorial describes some of the current and emerging challenges in peer review for the academic publishing system. Peer review is a fundamental element of academic research and publishing, with a firm reliance on the global scholarly community to perform gatekeeping and filtering processes in pursuing high-quality and high-value scholarly publications: the “gold standard” in academic publishing. We begin with examples of several contemporary challenges the peer review system poses, including impartiality and bias, academic reward structures, fake peer reviews, and reviewer fatigue. To further understand these challenges, we then provide a brief history of the evolution of the peer review system, focusing on the traditional forms of pre-publication peer review so familiar to the communication of scholarly work. Against this backdrop, we consider the benefits of peer review that span the continuum of the academic community – from authors to reviewers to journals and research communities. But many traditional forms of peer review are being challenged by new and innovative processes, systems and platforms. Finally, we look at how others have re-envisioned the peer review process during this phase of rapid evolution in journal publishing, with a strong call for quality and integrity in writing peer reviews. We conclude by suggesting ways forward for embedding sustainability, equity, and respect within the peer review process as an active force for advancing scholarship.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Contemporary peer review is a ubiquitous and institutionalised process in the global communication of scholarly works.
  2. Innovation in new social platforms, technical systems, communication methods, and changing academic environments are challenging the traditional forms of peer review.
  3. Despite criticisms of the scholarly peer review process - the role of biases, the “publish or perish” culture of academia, fraudulent peer review, peer reviewer fatigue, the Reviewer Number 2 trope, and the question of quality assurance - there is still value.
  4. Authors, reviewers, journal editors and research communities all benefit from high-quality peer review.
  5. Research communities should champion high-quality peer review as an active force for advancing scholarship.