Overloaded researchers, reviewer fatigue, bias towards senior researchers and a tendency to select North American and European researchers for review. These are just some of the current problems in the peer review system on which we rely.
Reviewing can be a thankless task. What should be a privilege and make a vital contribution to the scientific community, can feel unrewarding. At Hindawi, we have been looking at how we can improve our own peer review process and reviewer experience, and address some of the challenges faced by the communities we serve.
We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with Publons to help us to do this. We will be rolling out their services across all of our journals this month.
Publishers and stakeholders alike have been searching and experimenting with ways to address these problems. Efforts have included journals with different peer review models, reviewer reward schemes, and third-party portable peer review operations. We’re excited about Publons as it presents an aligned approach to provide an industry standard for reviewer services.
One of the primary services Publons offers is Reviewer Connect, a peer reviewer suggestion tool for Editors and Publishers. Reviewer Connect has access to over 7 million authors on the Web of Science, and uses these data to suggest appropriate reviewers. Reviewer Connect is now integrated with Hindawi’s manuscript tracking system, meaning that our Academic Editors have access to a recommended pool of appropriate reviewers for every manuscript.
We see the benefits of Reviewer Connect as:
- Reviewers being selected with a high degree of subject specificity.
- Junior and mid-tier researchers considered more often (where they are deemed to be among the most appropriate).
- Those reviewers who have a Publons profile have greater data available on their reviewing history; they can log their availability to review papers and include information about their expertise.
- No bias towards American and European researchers.
- Seamlessly flags potential conflicts of interest.
All of these benefits support the mission of “spreading the load” in peer review and reducing the pressure on researchers. This new system will also help bring greater diversity to who reviews our papers and help those whose expertise is rarely requested to be more involved in the reviewing process.
In testing and assessing a potential partnership, our research found that Reviewer Connect had an 82% success rate in selecting highly appropriate reviewers. This compares very favourably with reviewer suggestion tools we have previously used, and we hope it will support our Academic Editors in their roles and make sure the best people are reviewing all of our papers.
Publons has become the world’s largest peer review platform, and we are proud to be working with them on improving the reviewer experience. There is still a long way to go, and we are actively exploring solutions for rewarding not only our reviewers, but also our Academic Editors and authors. We are very open to suggestions on this matter, so please do reach out to me if you have any feedback at all.
This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.
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