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A guide to peer review in ecology and evolution

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A guide to peer review in ecology and evolution

A guide to peer review in ecology and evolution


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  • 1. 1 A Guide to Peer Review in Ecology and Evolution
  • 2. 12 The British Ecological Society, the oldest ecological society in the world, has been publishing scientific journals since it was first formed 100 years ago. The first issue of Journal of Ecology was published in time for the Society’s inaugural meeting on 12 April 1913. Since then, four further journals have been added to the Society’s publishingportfolio:JournalofAnimalEcologyin1932,JournalofAppliedEcologyin 1964,FunctionalEcologyin1987andMethodsinEcologyandEvolutionin2010. TheSocietyhaspublishedover20,000researcharticles,including3,259articlesin thelast5yearsalone,andwhilstthetotalnumberofreviewerswhocontributedto theassessmentofthesearticlesisunknown,during2012itwasover3,000.Therefore countless ecologists have helped authors improve these articles and support our editorialteamsinassessingwhatshouldbepublishedintheSociety’sjournals. Peer review has been providing a valuable service to the scientific community sinceitwasfirstemployedin1665bytheRoyalSociety’sPhilosophicalTransactions of the Royal Society, and its value is very difficult to measure. A published peer- reviewedarticlewillhavebeenthrougharigorousprocessofevaluationbyexperts, andonthisbasisisgivenastampofauthority.Theintegrityofthescientificliterature restsonapeerreviewsystemthatisrobust,independentandfair.Mostresearchers accept the peer review process (and the work involved in it) because – whilst it is notaperfectsystem–ithasproventoproviderealbenefitstobothauthorsandthe reviewersthemselves.Authorsbenefitsignificantlyfromthefeedbacktheyreceive from their peers, not only in the correction of errors made and development of the articleitself,butalsobytheinferredapprovalthatapositivepeerreviewofanarticle provides.Authorsgenerallyconsiderittheirdutytoservetheirresearchcommunity bygivinguptimetoreviewtheirpeers’work. Evaluating another researcher’s work hones critical thinking skills, it provides insightsintotopicalworkbeingconducted,itbuildsabroadknowledgeofdifferent experimentalmethodsanddataanalysesandithelpsdevelopanunderstandingof the positives and negatives in the way science is presented. This all feeds into the quality of a reviewer’s own article preparation which provides an on-going cycle of improvement to the body of scientific literature being published. Reviewing also helps develop sensitivity towards others, especially if the review is conducted collegiallyratherthancombatively. Reviewing is a skill, one that is learned through practise and experience and there are real benefits to becoming a reviewer, in terms of both personal and professional development. Researchers, who enjoy reviewing articles, provide constructivefeedbacktoauthorsandshowanaptitudeforidentifyingpapersready Preface.................................................................................................................................................... 01 Introductiontopeerreview.......................................................................................................... 03 Bestpractice......................................................................................................................................... 14 Ethicsinpeerreview......................................................................................................................... 23 Frequentlyaskedquestions......................................................................................................... 26 Conclusion............................................................................................................................................. 34 Furtherreading.................................................................................................................................. 35 Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................................... 35 Index........................................................................................................................................................ 36 Contents Preface Copyright©BritishEcologicalSociety,2013 Ifyouwishtoreproduceanypartofthisguide pleasecontact: BritishEcologicalSociety CharlesDarwinHouse 12RogersStreet LondonWC1N2JU UK info@britishecologicalsociety.org Thisbookletisalsoavailableelectronicallyat: www.britishecologicalsociety.org/publications/journals CoverimagereproducedwithpermissionfromArpatOzgul (photographer),KalahariMeerkatProject Bookletdesign:Cylinder
  • 3. 2 3 forpublication,areofteninvitedtojoinjournaleditorialboards.Suchengagements can make a major contribution to the individuals’ career progression and success withgrantproposals.Someeditorialboardmembersthengoontobecomeeditors, whichdemonstratesasignificantpersonalcommitmenttoajournal,thepeerreview process and science publishing. These appointments are highly regarded by the scientificcommunity. Thisbookletisintendedasaguideforearlycareerresearchers,whohavelittleor noexperienceofreviewingjournalarticlesbutareinterestedinlearningmoreabout what is involved. It provides a succinct overview of the many aspects of reviewing, from hands-on practical advice about the actual review process to explaining less tangibleaspects,suchasreviewerethics. Wehopeitencouragesyoutoreview! AndreaBaierandLizBaker ManagingEditors BritishEcologicalSociety Prefacecontinued Introductiontopeerreview Whatispeerreview? Peerreviewistheevaluationofscientificarticlesbyotherscientistswhoareexpert inthefield.Itisanessentialpartofthescholarlypublicationprocess.Mostjournals relyonscholarlypeerreviewtohelpeditorsassessthequalityofarticlessubmitted totheirjournals. There are over 12,000 journals indexed on the ISI Web of Science and these capture95%ofscholarlycitations1 .Thejournalslistedhaverecognisedstandardsof peerreviewthatprovidetheliteraturepublishedwithadegreeofauthority.Inmost instancesthereviewingofarticlesisanunpaidvoluntaryactivityandconductedin thereviewer’sowntime. Whypeerreview? Withinscholarlypublishingitisimportantforreaderstobeconfidentthatthearticle theyarereadinghasbeencheckedforitsscientificvalidityandtobereassuredthat thearticlehasreachedaqualitylevelthatjustifiestheirfaithintakingtimetoreadit. Whilstnotaperfectprocess,itisgenerallyacceptedthatpeerreview • improvesthequalityofarticlesthatarepublished; • providesanassessmentofthescienceintheliterature; • assiststheeditorialdecision-makingprocess;and • actsasagatekeeperforunethicalpractice. Mostacademics,throughouttheircareers,willpeerreviewarticles,andinstitutions often take the activity into account when assessing those applying for academic positions, tenure or promotion. For young scientists, acquiring the skills necessary to conduct good and authoritative reviews that are helpful both for editors and authorsisconsideredtobeanimportantpartoftheircareerdevelopment.Manysee thisworkasaservicetotheirscientificcommunityandanimportantwayinwhich they can contribute to raising the profile of the area of science within which they work. 1 Adams,J.(2011)GlobalResearchReportUnitedKingdom.Evidence,ThomsonReuters,Leeds. http://researchanalytics.thomsonreuters.com/m/pdfs/globalresearchreport-uk.pdfaccessed5July2013.
  • 4. 4 5 ISICategory Numberofjournals listed* Numberofarticles published* BiodiversityConservation 40 3,290 Ecology 136 15,612 EvolutionaryBiology 47 5,481 PlantScience 195 19,105 Zoology 149 11,019 Table 1. Numbers of journals listed and articles published in a set of ISI subject categoriesin2012. *Somejournalsarelistedinmorethanonecategory Whoshouldpeerreview? Peerreviewprovidesavaluableservicetoscience,itshouldbecarriedoutbythose suitably ‘qualified’ to do so. This expertise can come from many years’ of academic and research experience in a subject area, it can come from in-depth study in a specific area during a PhD and it can come from practical experience in the field. Editors often select reviewers who have recently published articles on a related subjecttothearticleunderconsideration. Howdoespeerreviewwork? The most widely used, traditional form of peer review involves the article being submitted to a journal and entering a process whereby it is assessed by a combination of editors and reviewers, resulting in a decision that may or may not leadtopublication.Formanyjournals,particularlythoserankedhighlyinthefield, less than 20% of manuscripts submitted are eventually accepted for publication. Articlespublishedinthesejournalsareselectedbasedonscientificmerit,qualityand novelty.Manyofthesearticlesaredeclinedasaresultofthereviewers’andeditors’ assessment of their novelty; however, many are still good articles – just not good enoughforthetargetedjournal.Articlesnotacceptedatajournalwillusuallyneed to start the submission and peer review process again at a different journal, when someofthesamereviewersmaybeinvitedtoreviewthepaperbyadifferenteditor. There are some journals that conduct traditional peer review selecting the articles theypublishbasedonlyonthequalityandethicalstandardsofthescience,butnot ontheimportanceofthework,e.g.PLOSONE. Reviewsaretypicallynotsharedbetweenjournals;however,somesocietiesand Introductiontopeerreview
  • 5. 6 7 publishershavesetupcascadejournalswherereviewercommentsarepassedonto (seeCascadingpeerreview). Therearethreetypesoftraditionalpeerreview: •Single-blindpeerreview–asystemwhereauthorsdonot knowwhoreviewedtheirarticleunlessreviewerschoose towaivetheiranonymitybysigningtheirreview •Double-blindpeerreview–asystemwherebothauthors’ andreviewers’identitiesarehiddenfromeachother •Openpeerreview–asystemwheretheidentitiesofthe authorsandreviewersareknowntoallparties Single-blindpeerreview MethodsinEcologyandEvolution,JournalofAnimalEcology,JournalofEcology, AmericanNaturalist,Ecology Double-blindpeerreview BehavioralEcology,optionalinNatureGeosciencesandNatureClimateChange Openpeerreview F1000Research,eLife,PeerJ(encouraged) Box1.Examplesofjournalsfollowingeachtypeoftraditionalpeerreview Otherformsofpeerreview: Cascadingpeerreviewisasystemwherebyjournalsusethetraditionalpeerreview model but refer some articles that are declined for publication to another journal. If the authors agree, reviewer and editor comments are forwarded to this second journalalongwiththearticle.Aformalarrangementtoallowthistohappenwillhave previously been established between the participating journals and reviewers are madeawarethattheircommentsmightbeusedbyasecondjournal;e.g. Ecology& Evolution,NatureCommunications. Third-party peer review services are offered by some organisations. Rather than submitting their article to a specific journal, authors can send their article to an independentorganisationthatarrangespeerreviewandchargeseithertheauthors or the journals that go on to accept the reviewed article, e.g. Peerage of Science, Rubiq. Introductiontopeerreview
  • 6. 8 9 Post-publication peer review platforms offer immediate article publication with post-publication peer review. For example, F1000Research posts submitted articlesthatpassaverybasiccheckonlineandinvitespeerreviewcommentsafter publication. Submitted reviewer comments are then posted alongside the article. Articlesthateventuallygain‘approved’statusarethenindexed,amongstothers,in PubMedCentral,ScopusandGoogleScholar. Preprintserversprovideanonlinefacilitywherearticlescanbepostedonlinein advanceofpeerreview.Popularinfast-movingareasofresearch,preprintsites allowauthorstoreceiveearlyfeedbackfromtheirpeers.Whilstthesewebsites offerimmediateonlinepostingofresearcharticles,theydonotofferpeerreview. However, peer feedback is commonly used to assist authors to revise their articlesinpreparationforjournalsubmission,e.g.arXivandPeerJPrePrints.Not alljournalsconsiderarticlesforpublicationthathavepreviouslybeenpostedin preprintservers. Box2.Articlefeedbackbeforesubmission Whodoeswhat? The structure of editorial boards and the job titles of their members differ widely betweenjournalsandsodoesthewayinwhicheditorsandeditorialboardmembers collaboratetoreachdecisionsonsubmittedarticles.Figure1.outlinesthebasicpeer review workflow and the tasks assigned to those participating in the peer review process.Morethanoneiterationoftherevisionworkflowmightbeneededbeforea finaldecisionisreached. Introductiontopeerreview Fig.1.Peerreviewworkflowandroles. Revision Submitsthearticle Performsbasicchecksfor completenessandsuitability Checksforfitwithjournalscope Checkswhethertheresearch presentedseemstobesoundandif yes,selectsappropriatereviewers Evaluatethearticle andwriteareport Evaluatesreviewerreportsand makesrecommendationtotheeditor Evaluatesreviewerreports alongwiththeassociateeditor’s recommendationandmakesdecision Performsbasicchecksfor completeness Checkswhethertherequiredchanges havebeenmadeandifnecessarysends articlebacktoreviewers Evaluatetherevised articleandwriteareport Evaluatesreviewerreportsand makesrecommendationtotheeditor Evaluatesreviewerreportsalong withtheassociateeditor’s recommendationandmakes finaldecision Respondstoreviewerandassociateeditor commentsandrevisesthearticleaccordingly Author Editorialoffice Editor Associateeditor Reviewers Associateeditor Editor Author Performsbasicchecksfor completeness Checkswhethertherequiredchanges havebeenmadeandifnecessarysends articlebacktoreviewers Evaluatetherevised articleandwriteareport Evaluatesreviewerreportsand makesrecommendationtotheeditor Evaluatesreviewerreportsalong withtheassociateeditor’s recommendationandmakes Originalsubmission
  • 7. 10 11 Editor The primary role of a journal editor (also referred to as editor-in-chief, executive editor or senior editor) is to manage the strategic direction of the journal and take responsibilityforthearticlespublishedinit.Thisincludesmakingthefinaldecisions on articles that have been submitted. Decisions are made using a number of considerationsincluding: •aimsandscopeofthejournal; •associateeditorrecommendation; •reviewercomments; •otherarticlesrecentlypublishedinthejournal; •journalpriorities;and •journalpagebudgets. The editors also take responsibility for balancing the workloads of the editorial board,appointingassociateeditorsandresolvinganyconflictsthatariseduringthe peerreviewprocess. Associateeditors Associate editors (handling editors or subject editors) make up the editorial board. Theirresponsibilitiesareto: •makeaninitialexpertassessmentofthearticleassignedtothem; •selectappropriatereviewers; •scrutinizethereviewers’comments; •providetheirownassessmentofthearticlewithsuggestionsforimprovement andguidanceontheimportanceofthereviewercomments; •judgethemeritsofpublishingthearticleinthetargetedjournalusingthe expertfeedbackfromthereviewers; •makearecommendationtotheeditorsregardingthefinaldecisionthatshould bemadeonthearticle;and •supporttheeditorsinpromotingthejournalwithinthescientificcommunity. Introductiontopeerreview
  • 8. 12 13 Reviewers Reviewers (referees) are subject area experts who are asked to evaluate an article. Theirresponsibilitiesareto: •provideadetailed,objectivereportonthemeritsofanarticle; •identifyflawsinthedesignoftheresearch,andintheanalysis andinterpretationofresults; •highlightethicalconcerns; •commentontheappropriatenessoftheliteraturecited;and •offertheirviewonthesuitabilityofanarticleforpublicationinthejournal towhichithasbeensubmitted. Editorialoffice At the heart of each journal is the editorial office. A journal will typically have a managingeditorandaneditorialassistantorassistanteditor,althoughthenumber of staff can differ between journals, and especially if a journal is owned by a large publishing house, managing editors and editorial assistants often are responsible for more than one journal. The editorial office usually manages the peer review processonbehalfoftheeditorsby: •checkingthatarticlefilesarecompleteandthecontenthasbeenstructured accordingtotheauthorguidelinesforthejournal; •providingacentralcontactforallenquiriesthroughouttheprocess; •givingessentialfeedbacktoallpartiessothatthepublicationexperienceisas straightforwardaspossibleforauthorsandreviewers; •providingpublishingadvicetotheeditors; •handlingcorrespondence,includingsomedecisionletters;and •ensuringthatcopyprovidedforpublicationispreparedinhouse-style,with completecontentandfiles. In addition to managing the peer review process the editorial office is sometimes alsoresponsibleforputtingissuecontenttogether,drivingmarketinginitiativesand –togetherwiththeeditor–forthestrategicdevelopmentofthejournal. Introductiontopeerreview
  • 9. 14 15 Invitation When invited to review an article there are a few key questions to consider before acceptingtheinvitation: • Doesthesubjectareaofthearticlematchmyexpertise? • DoIhavetimetoreviewwithinthetimescalerequestedbythejournal? Manyjournalsaskforarticlestobereviewedwithin2-3weeks,althoughothers requestshorterturnaroundtimes.Berealistic! • DoIhaveanyconflictsofinterestthatmightprohibitmefromreviewingthe articleobjectively?(SeealsoPublicationethics.) • DoIactuallywanttoreviewthisarticle? If there are any reasons for declining the invitation respond straight away. It is OK tosayno,andbetter–foryou,thejournalandtheauthors–thannotreplyingtoan invitation or committing only half-heartedly, procrastinating over the review and submittingitlateornotatall. If you want to review the article, it is important to commit the time needed to make it a thorough review. Should you find circumstances arise whereby your reviewwillbelateoryouarenolongerabletohonouryourcommitment,informthe editorialofficeatyourearliestopportunity. Bestpractice Basicprinciples Havingagreedtoreviewtherearesomebasicprinciplestofollow: • Alwaystreatthepaperwiththeutmostconfidentiality • Takeanobjective,independentapproachtothework,puttingasidesubjective feelingsaboutthetopicandtheauthors,ifknowntoyou • Beattentivetothetaskasyourreportwillinfluencethedecisiononthearticle, whichmayhaveanimpactonthecareeroftheauthor(s)orthereputationof thejournal • Yourroleistoimprovethescienceinscholarlypublicationsandcritical scrutinyofthearticleisessential • Provideevidence,whereappropriate,forthestatementsyoumakeinyourreport • Becarefulwhenwritingareporttousesimplelanguagesothatauthorscan understandyourcomments,evenifEnglishisnottheirfirstlanguage • Alwaysconductthereviewprofessionally,courteously,collegiallyandpolitely • Nevercontacttheauthorsdirectly;allcorrespondenceshouldbeviatheeditorial office Howtogetstarted Ifyouhavenotreviewedforaparticularjournalbefore,readtheaimsandscopeof thejournalandconsultthereviewerguidelines.Alsolookattheformthejournalasks reviewerstocompletetofindoutwhichquestionsyouareexpectedtoanswerand thespecificissuesthatyouarebeingaskedtocommentupon. The majority of your report will be free-text comments to the authors and confidentialcommentstotheeditor. Beforelookingindetailateachsectioninthearticle, readitfromstarttofinish: this will give you an overview and provide a clear understanding of everything the articlecovers. Writingthereport Overviewcomments Afterreadingthearticleitisusefultoaskyourselfthefollowingquestions: • Isthereaclearandvalidmotivationforthestudy? • Istheresearchquestion/hypothesis/predictionoftheresearchclearly presented? Bestpractice
  • 10. 16 17 •Doestheresearchfollowlogicallyfrompriorknowledge?Isittimely,anddoesit havethepotentialtoadvancethefield? •Isthearticleappropriatelystructuredandclearlypresented? •Canyoueasilysummarisethekeymessageinthearticle? •Doesthetitlereflectthecontentsandisitengaging? •Doesthearticlefitwiththescopeofthejournalthathasaskedyoutoreviewit? •Doesittakeaccountofrelevantrecentandpastresearchinthefield? •Istheresignificantoverlapwithmaterialthathaspreviouslybeenpublished? Youranswerstothesequestionsshouldformtheopeningcommentsinyourreport. Detailedcomments Most articles are structured into sections commonly labelled ‘summary/abstract’, ‘introduction’,‘methods’,‘results’and‘discussion’.Theremayalsobea‘conclusion’. Itisrecommendedthatyoutakeamethodicalapproachtoassessingthearticleby appraisingeachsectioninturn.Inyourcommentsremembertoprovideevidencefor thestatementsyoumake,whetherpositiveornegative. Summary/abstract •Isitconciselywritten? •Doesitprovideaclearoverviewofthework? •Doesitcontaintheessentialfactsfromthepaper? •Doesthefinalpointplacetheworkdescribedinabroadercontext,highlighting itssignificance? Introduction •Doesthisprovideaclear,concisebackgroundtothestudy? •Doesitenableyoutounderstandtheaimsofthestudyandhypotheses questionstheauthorsareexploring? •Havetheauthorselaboratedsufficientlyonthecontextinwhichtheworkisset? •Hasthemotivationfortheworkbeenadequatelyexplained? •Istheresatisfactorycitationofpriorliterature? Bestpractice
  • 11. 18 19 Methods • Isthemethodologysound? • Havetheproceduresfollowedbeensufficientlydescribed? • Isthereenoughdetailhereforthestudytobereplicated? • Isitclearwhatwasrecordedandwhichunitsofmeasurementwereused? • Arethestatisticaldesignandanalysesappropriate? • Haveimportantdetailsbeenleftout? • Whereappropriate,hasethicalapprovalbeenobtainedforthework? Results • Aretheresultsprovidedinaformthatiseasytointerpretandunderstand? • Haveresultsforallthequestionsaskedbeenprovided? • Arethedataofsufficientqualityandquantity? • Arethefiguresandtablesappropriate? • Havethecorrectunitsofmeasurementbeenused? Discussionandconclusions • Havetheauthorsansweredtheirresearchquestion(s)/hypotheses? • Aretheconclusionsdrawnfromtheresultsjustified? • Hasthesignificanceofthestudybeenfullyexplained? • Byhowmuchhasthisstudyadvancedthecurrentunderstandingofthescience? Bestpractice Summarypoints • Beobjective • Includedetailsofwhatisgoodaboutthearticle,butalsohighlightany problems • Lookforthenoveltyandimportanceofthework • Recognizethatnostudyisperfect • Beconstructive • Bethoroughandthoughtful • Evaluateboththequalityoftheideasandexperimentaldetails/results • Bespecificandfactuallyaccurate • Recognizeopinionversusfact • Becivil Box3.Summaryofkeyprinciplesofreviewing Bestpractice
  • 12. 20 21 Bestpractice PostReview •Wheneverpossibleagreetojournalrequeststoreviewrevisionsor resubmissionsofarticlesyouhavepreviouslyreviewed.Thishelpsprovide consistencyofviewandyouarebestplacedtodeterminewhetheradvicehas beenfollowed. •Donotincludeanythingthatappearstobeadecisionaboutthepaperin yourcommentstotheauthors.Thedecisionismadebytheeditorswhoneedto considermanycriteriawhendecidingwhichpaperstoacceptandreject. •Asacourtesytoreviewers,mostjournalswillcopytheotherreviewers’ commentstoyou.Fromtheseyouwilllearnhowdifferentpeoplereview papersandreadcommentsaboutissuesthatyoumayhavemissed. •Thejournalwillneverrevealyouridentitytoauthorswithoutyourpermission. However,ifyouhavesignedyourreviewandadisputearisesaboutadecisionon thearticlethatyouhavereviewed,youshouldnotenterintodiscussionwith authors,butadvisethemtocontacttheeditorialoffice.Thejournalwillfollow bestpracticeguidelines(e.g.thoseprovidedbytheCommitteeonPublication Ethics(COPE))indealingwithdifficultanddelicatesituations.Journalsdonot handledisputesoverdecisionsoften. Appeals Although appeals are not common, authors can request that a journal reconsidersadecisiontorejectanarticle.Appealscanoftenbedealtwithbythe editorandtheassociateeditor,butinrarecaseswheretheappealhingesupon technicaldetails,theeditormayapproachreviewersforfurthercomments. Box4.Providingfeedbackonappeals
  • 13. 22 23 Confidentiality Inthetraditionalpeerreviewmodel,youareboundtoconfidentialityaboutthework you have been asked to review. You must not take ideas presented in articles you evaluateandpassthemasyourownandyoumustnotdiscloseanydatapresented in the article before it has been published. It is acceptable to ask a colleague for advice as long as the authors’ names are not revealed and unnecessary details remainconfidential. Bias When commenting on someone else’s work, it is hard to be completely neutral. However,whilstthejournaleditorswantyoutobeneutralaboutthequalityofthe science, they still want to know your view of an article. Nevertheless, your opinion should be based solely on the presented work and not on any prejudices you may have.Insciencepublishingyouareadvisedtobesensitivetowardstheriskofbiasin particular: •genderbias:thepossibilitythatarticlesbyauthorsofeithersexwillbesubject todifferentstandardsofreview •geographicalbias:theconcernthattheauthors’countryoforiginwillinfluence themannerinwhichtheirworkisassessed •senioritybias:thepossibilitythatarticlesbyauthorsatdifferentstagesintheir careerswillbesubjecttomoreorlessfavourablereview •confirmationbias:theconcernthatarticlesreportingcontroversialresults orputtingforwardnew,revolutionaryideaswillbelessfavourablyreviewed thanarticlesthatdonotchallengeconventionalwisdom Beingawareofthesepossiblebiasesandcheckingwhetheryouropinionaboutan articlemayhavebeeninfluencedbythemareimportantfirstmeasuresyoucantake, regardlessofthepeerreviewsystemajournalemploys. Severalarticleshavebeenpublishedthateitherdiscussthesebiasesindifferent journals and subject areas or that report on experiments in which different peer reviewmodelshavebeenused. Although some journals have adopted open (PeerJ, eLife) or double-blind reviewingpractices(BehavioralEcology,optionalforNatureGeosciencesandNature ClimateChange),themajorityofjournalscontinuetousesingle-blindpeerreview. Ethicsinpeerreview
  • 14. 24 25 Publicationandresearchethics If you are concerned that publishing ethics may have been violated in connection withthearticleyouarereviewing,orifyouareworriedthatresearchethicsmayhave beenbreached,youshouldnotifytheeditorialoffice. Mostjournalshavesetproceduresfordealingwithethicalconcernsandwillbeable to investigate such concerns further without you having to reveal your identity to theauthorsorevenbecomeinvolvedpersonally. Duplicate/multiplesubmissionandpublication • Submittinganarticletovariousjournalsconcurrently,beforeadecision fromthefirstjournalhasbeenreceivedorsubmittingconsiderablyover- lappingmaterial,especiallyresults,indifferentarticlestodifferentjournals. • Duplicatepublicationisapotentialconsequenceofmultiplesubmission; editorsareunawarethatanarticleisconsideredbyotherjournalsat thesametimeandmorethanonejournalacceptsandpublishesthesame articleoronewithconsiderablesimilarity. Authorship Authorship is usually granted to those who have substantially contributed to theworkpresentedinanarticle. • Unjustifiedauthorship:gift,honoraryorguestauthorshipisauthorship assignedtopeoplewhohavenotmadesubstantialcontributiontothe conceptionanddesign,acquisitionofdata,oranalysisandinterpretationof data;draftingthearticleorrevisingitcriticallyforimportantintellectual content;andfinalapprovaloftheversiontobepublished. • Ghostauthorship:wherethosewhohavesubstantiallycontributedto authorshipofthepaperareomittedfromthelistofauthorsonthearticle.This isespeciallyproblematicwhenco-authorsdeliberatelyexcludecolleagues whofulfilauthorshipcriteria. Conflictofinterest • Conflictsofinterestthatpreventareviewerfromimpartiallyevaluating someoneelse’swork. Box5.Examplesofproblemswithpublicationethics Ethicsinpeerreview Fabricateddata • Datathataremadeupratherthantheresultofactualmeasurements. Falsifieddata • Datastemmingfrommeasurementsthathavesubsequentlybeen unjustifiablyalteredinordertoyieldmoreimpressive/convenientresults. Stealingdata • Usingsomeoneelse’sdatawithouttheirconsent. Animalwelfarepractices • Codesofconductthatneedtobeadheredtowhencarryingoutresearchthat involvesanimalsorprotectedspeciesofanykind. Box6.Examplesofproblemswithresearchethics Allreviewersshouldtakeresponsibilityforreportingconcernsregardingunethical practice,anditisthedutyofthejournaleditorialofficestoinvestigateissuesthatare highlightedduringthepeerreviewprocess. Ethicsinpeerreview
  • 15. 26 27 Howdoesaneditormakeadecision? Aftertheeditorialofficehasreceivedtherequirednumberofreviews,theassociate editor reads the article and the accompanying reviewer comments, and will recommend a decision to the editor. The recommendation is not a vote-counting exerciseofmixedreviews.Thismeansthatamajorityofviewsinfavourofacceptance orrejectionwillnotnecessarilyleadtothatdecisionbeingmade.Associateeditors willprovidetheirownopinionregardingthedecisiontotheeditorandmayalsogive adviceonwhichofthereviewers’suggestionsneedtobefollowed. Inmakingadecision,theeditorisguidedbythereportsfromthereviewersandthe associateeditor.Theeditorusuallydoesnotreadtheentirearticle,butmayexamine sectionsofitinmoredetailtoformhisorherownjudgementifthereisdisagreement betweenthereviewersandtheassociateeditor. Most journals inform the reviewers of the decision and share the reviewers’ commentswithallreviewersofthearticle.Ifthejournalyouarereviewingfordoes not follow this practice and you would like to see the other reports, request them fromtheeditorialoffice.Theotherreviewerreportscanhelpyouunderstandwhya particulardecisionhasbeenmade. Whyhastheeditordisagreedwithmyevaluation? Theroleofthereviewerismainlytojudgethesoundnessofthescienceandtoassess the quality of the work in the context of the existing literature in a particular field. Frequentlyaskedquestions Sometimesreviewers’opinionsaboutanarticlemaydifferandtheeditor’sdecision maythusnotreflectyourrecommendation,because: •youhaveoverlookeda(serious)flawinthearticlethatotherreviewershave identified; •otherreviewersmayhavejudgedtheimportanceornoveltyofthework differently; •thearticledoesnotmeetthestandardrequiredbythejournal; •theworkpresentedinthearticleisnotofsufficientinteresttothejournal’score audience; •theworkisnotnovelenoughforthejournal; •youmayhaveadvisedthatadditionalworkneedstobedoneorjudgedthe worktobeofinsufficientimportance,whereastheeditorispreparedtoaccept thearticleasitis. It is important to remember that although you are asked your opinion about an article, the final decision about publication or rejection lies with the journal. The better-arguedyourviewsare,themorelikelyitisthattheywilltheyholdupagainst someone else’s opinion and the more useful they will be to an editor who needs to make a decision on the basis of conflicting advice. Should you feel very strongly that a decision is wrong, especially if you are concerned that a fatal flaw has been overlooked, contact the editorial office so that the decision can be revisited and, if appropriate,revised. Isreviewingarevisiondifferenttoreviewingtheoriginalsubmission? On submitting a revision, authors are expected to provide a point-by-point explanationofthewayinwhichtheyhaverespondedtoreviewers’commentswhen theysubmittheirrevision.Ifyouhavereviewedthearticlebefore,checkwhetherthe pointsyouraisedhavebeenaddressed,butalsojudgetherevisionafresh.Youmay nothavespottedcertainissuesintheoriginalsubmission,newmistakesmayhave beenintroducedintherevision,orsomepreviouslyunseenproblemswiththearticle mayonlyhavebecomeapparentintherevision. Doreviewersneedtoknowwhetheranarticlewillbepublishedopenaccess? No. In fact, in hybrid journals, i.e. subscription journals with an open access option, authors only have to declare after acceptance whether they wish to make their article open access. Therefore, the decision to accept or reject is not influenced by theconsiderationthatanopenaccessarticlebringsrevenuetothejournal. Frequentlyaskedquestions
  • 16. 28 29 CanIpassareviewrequestontooneofmystudents? If you are an established, well-known scientist you will typically receive more invitationstoreview.Youmaybeunabletoagreetoallrequests.Ifayoungcolleague in your lab happens to be an expert on the subject matter of the article you have beeninvitedtoreview,itisperfectlyfinetoeither: •declinethereviewinvitation,butsuggestyourstudentorpost-doctothe journalasanalternativereviewer;or •usethisasamentoringopportunityandhavethearticlereviewedbyoneof yourstudents,butunderyoursupervision.Itiscrucial,however,thatyouinform thejournalinadvanceofyourintentionandseektheirconsent.Youshould alsocarefullycheckyourstudent’sreviewandensurethatyouarehappywith theircommentsbeforeyoureturnthemtothejournal.Makesuretoincludeyour student’snamesotheygetthecredittheydeserve.Ifthestudentdoesmostof thework,thereviewcouldbesubmittedunderhis/herownname. CanIreviewwithmysupervisor? This is a good way of practicing reviewing with the safety net provided by your supervisor. When discussing the article you will learn the important points to look outfor,anddevelopideasofyourownonhowbesttoreview. CanIaskforadviceonareview? Even the most experienced reviewers can get stuck with a particular aspect of an article, for example, the statistical analyses. In such cases, it is acceptable to ask a colleagueforadvice,aslongasyoudonotdisclosetheauthors’namesandyoukeep anyunnecessaryarticledetailsconfidential. WhatdoIneedtoknowaboutdataarchiving? A growing list of journals in ecology and evolution recommend (e.g. BES journals, Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecosphere) or mandate (American Naturalist, Molecular Ecology, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Ecological Monographs, Evolutionary Applications) that data associated with an article be archived in a publicly accessible repository. Depositing the data underlying an article is usually onlyrequiredonceadecisionaboutpublicationhasbeenmade.Mostjournalsallow embargoperiodstobeagreedwithauthorswherethedataisassociatedwithother articles in preparation. Some authors will make their data available at submission, forexampleinthesupplementarymaterialfilesfortheirarticle. Frequentlyaskedquestions
  • 17. 30 31 DoIneedtoknowwhetherdatawillbearchived? No. Data are not normally archived until an article has been accepted and thus are usuallynotaccessibletothereviewers.Wherearchiveddataareavailable,youmay wishtoinspectthemwhenyoureviewanarticle,butreviewingthedataisnotpartof yourdutiesasareviewerunlessstatedotherwisebyajournal.Atthetimeofwriting, onlyMolecularEcologyrequireddatareviewalongsidearticlereview. WhatdoIdowithsupportinginformationorsupplementaryfiles? Supporting information or supplementary files are made available to a journal at submission,butmostjournalsdonotexpectthemtobereviewed.Althoughthefiles do not form part of the published version of record of the article, they are usually posted online with the article upon publication or archived in data repositories. You can, of course, consult the information provided in this section for further understanding of the article, or you may suggest that some information from the actual article be moved to supporting information. You may also request that additionalinformationbemadeavailableinthissection,butthemainarticleshould containeverythingthatisneededtosupportthemainconclusionsmade. Is reviewing for an open access journal different to reviewing for a subscription journal? Someopenaccessjournals,suchasPLOSONE,onlyrequireyoutocommentonthe scientific and ethical integrity of the work and on the clarity of the presentation, whilemosttraditionalsubscriptionjournalsaskyoutoalsopassjudgementonthe importanceornoveltyoftheworkunderreview. However, not all open access journals have the same criteria for publication: while PLOS ONE may publish any article that meets its editorial criteria, its sister journalsPLOSBiologyorthenewjournaleLifearehighlyselectiveandwantyouto judgeanarticle’simportanceaswell. Itisimportanttofamiliariseyourselfwithjournalguidelines,whetherreviewing foranopenaccessortraditionalsubscriptionjournal. ShouldIapplydifferentstandardswhenreviewingfordifferentjournals? Although your main role as reviewer is to judge the science presented in an article, you should also keep in mind a journal’s aims and scope and the quality of articles you expect to read in the journal in question. For example, case studies might be acceptable for one journal, but not for another. Similarly, an article might be of utmost interest and importance for researchers in a particular subfield, but the journal for which you are reviewing may have a more general remit and not allow Frequentlyaskedquestions
  • 18. 32 33 authorstopresentasmuchdetailaswouldbeusefulforaspecialistaudience. Itisgoodpracticetostatewhetherornot(andwhy!)youwouldexpectanarticle such as the one under review to appear in a particular journal and to support your opinionwithreasons.Thisisbestdoneinthecommentstotheeditors. HowmuchtimeshouldIspendonareview? Howlongittakesyoutoreviewanarticledependsonmanyfactors: • Howfamiliaryouarewiththetopic • Yourexperienceasareviewer • Theclarityofthepresentationinthearticle • Thedifficultyofthesubjectmatter • Thelengthandtypeofthearticle A survey2 of reviewers of manuscripts submitted to the BMJ found that review qualityincreasedwithtimespentonareviewupto3hoursbutnotbeyond.This might be considerably more or less in other subject areas, but it is advisable to setaside3-5hoursforthetask,althoughtimespentwillvarydependingonthe typeandlengthofarticle. Box7.Reviewingtimeguideline Althoughgenerallyyouwillonlybeaskedtoreviewarticlesthatpasstheassociate editor’s initial assessment, occasionally it will quickly become apparent that an article is of insufficient quality to justify a detailed review. If you notice grave and consistentproblemsthroughoutanarticle,indicatethisinyourreviewercomments, butdonotfeelobligedtospendsignificantamountsoftimecorrectingerrorsthatthe authorscouldnotordidnotcaretocorrectthemselvesinadvanceofsubmittingthe articletothejournal.Youmaywanttobemorelenient,however,withinexperienced authorsorsomeonewhodoesnothaveEnglishastheirfirstlanguage. DoIneedtocorrectthelanguageinanarticle? Iftherearesignificantlanguageproblemsinatext,pleaseflagthisinyourcomments sothattheauthors(nativeandnon-nativeEnglishspeakers!)canbeaskedtoimprove thisaspectoftheirarticle.Youcouldeditaparagraphortwotohighlightthekindof Frequentlyaskedquestions 2 Black, N., van Rooyen, S., Godlee, Smith, R. & Evans, S. (1998) What Makes a Good Reviewer and a Good Review for a GeneralMedicalJournal?JAMA,280,231-233. mistakesthatneedtobecorrectedortopointoutspecificexamples,butyoushould notfeelitnecessarytocopyeditthemanuscriptyourself. Howdifferentshouldtheconfidentialcommentstotheeditorbefromthe commentsthattheauthorswillsee? Confidential comments to the editors should not be significantly different to the comments to the authors. The overall message of both should be the same: if you onlyhaveminorcommentstotheauthorswithfewsuggestionsforchange,donot thencondemnthearticleinyourcommentstotheeditors. However,statementsregardingwhetherornotanarticleshouldbepublishedin thejournalshouldonlybemadeinthecommentstotheeditor. WhatshouldIdoifIhavealreadyreviewedthesamearticleforadifferentjournal? If you agree to review an article for a journal that you have already reviewed for a different journal, check whether the authors have taken your original suggestions onboard.Iftheyhave,providecommentsonthenew,revisedarticle.Iftheyhavenot andthearticleiscompletelyunchanged,lettheeditorialofficeknowandeithersend your original comments or a summary of what your concerns were when you first reviewedthearticle. Frequentlyaskedquestions
  • 19. 34 35 IntheSenseaboutSciencePeerReviewSurvey20093 ,95%ofthosequestionedabout peer review in the Earth & Planetary/Environmental Sciences subject category agreedthatthepeerreviewprocessimprovedtheirarticle.Itisevidencelikethisthat supportsthevaluethatpeerreviewcontributestopublishedarticles. Asahumanendeavourpeerreviewdoeshaveitsweaknesses;however,noother systemhasyetbeendevisedthatcandeliverthewidespreadimprovementstothe bodyofscientificliteratureinabetterway. The overall conclusions of the Sense about Science survey show that contributingtothepeerreviewprocessisviewedasanimportantpartofplayingan active role in the scientific community. Hopefully, this guide will encourage you to review, if you have been reluctant to do so. If you are already an active reviewer, it shouldanswersomeofthequestionsyouhavealwayswantedtoaskbutneverhad theopportunityto. Conclusion 3 SenseaboutScience.(2009)ThePeerReviewSurvey2009 http://www.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/Peer_Review/Peer_Review_Survey_Final_3.pdf(accessed05July2013) COPEguidelineshttp://publicationethics.org/ Peerreview:Thenutsandbolts,(2012)SenseaboutScience http://www.senseaboutscience.org/data/files/resources/99/Peer-review_The-nuts-and-bolts.pdf (accessed05July2013) UniformRequirementsforManuscriptsSubmittedtoBiomedicalJournals:WritingandEditingforBiomedical Publication,(2010)InternationalCommitteeofMedicalJournalEditorshttp://www.icmje.org/urm_full.pdf (accessed05July2013) PeerReviewandManuscriptManagementinScientificJournals:GuidelinesforGoodPractice(2007),IreneHames, BlackwellPublishing,Oxford ThePeerReviewProcess:AReporttotheJISCScholarlyCommunicationsGroup,JFRowland http://www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/rowland.pdf(accessed05July2013) Peerreviewinscholarlyjournals:Perspectiveofthescholarlycommunity–aninternationalstudy,MarkWare ConsultingonbehalfofthePublishersResearchConsortium http://www.publishingresearch.net/documents/PeerReviewFullPRCReport-final.pdf(accessed05July2013) Reviewingmanuscriptsforscientificjournals.RLBalster.(2008)In:PublishingAddictionScience:Aguideforthe perplexed,SecondEdition,TFBarbor,KStenius,SSavva&JO’Reilly(Eds).Multi-SciencePublishingCompany, Brentwood http://www.parint.org/isajewebsite/bookimages/isaje_2nd_edition_chapter10.pdf(accessed05July2013) PeerReview:noalternativetoexpertjudgement,ScienceinParliamentVol69,No2Whitsun2012 http://www.vmine.net/scienceinparliament/sip69-2-7.pdf(accessed05July2013) Acknowledgements We thank Peter Livermore, Jennifer Meyer, Erika Newton, Samantha Ponton and Lauren Sandhu for inspiring initial discussions and Mike Hutchings, Catherine Hill, Franciska de Vries and Erika Newton for feedback on earlier versions ofthisguide. Imagecredits Furtherreading p2:HannahGrist p5:AndrewRichardson p6:AnthonyVanderEnt p8:Tara-LeighDallas p13:AdamSeward p14:DavidBird p19:SilviuPetrovan p21:CathWaller p25:SilviuPetrovan p26:ChristianSchoeb p32:PeterJamesStephenson p33:PhillipBlaen
  • 20. 36 Index Appeals........................................................................................................................................ p20 Authorship.................................................................................................................................... p24 Bias............................................................................................................................................. p23 Cascadingpeerreview.................................................................................................................... p7 Conclusion................................................................................................................................... p18 Confidentiality.............................................................................................................................. p23 Dataarchiving............................................................................................................................... p28 Discussion.................................................................................................................................... p18 Double-blindedpeerreview............................................................................................................. p7 Duplicate(multiple)publication........................................................................................................ p24 Editorialroles................................................................................................................................ p11 Fabricateddata.............................................................................................................................. p25 Falsifieddata................................................................................................................................. p25 Hybridjournal............................................................................................................................... p27 Introduction................................................................................................................................. p16 Invitations.................................................................................................................................... p14 Methods....................................................................................................................................... p18 Openaccess.............................................................................................................................. p27/31 Openpeerreview........................................................................................................................... p7 Peerreview................................................................................................................................... p3 Post-publicationpeerreview............................................................................................................ p8 Preprintservers............................................................................................................................. p8 Publishingethics............................................................................................................................ p24 Researchethics............................................................................................................................. p24 Resubmission................................................................................................................................ p20 Results......................................................................................................................................... p18 Revision.....................................................................................................................................p9/27 Single-blindedpeerreview............................................................................................................... p7 Subscriptionjournal....................................................................................................................... p31 Summary/abstract......................................................................................................................... p16 Supportinginformation...................................................................................................................p31 Supplementaryfiles....................................................................................................................... p31 Third-partypeerreview................................................................................................................... p7 Votecounting ............................................................................................................................... p26
  • 21. ReasonstopublishintheBESjournals • World-renownededitors • Globalreadership • High-qualitypeerreview • Fastpublicationtimes • Strong,consistentimpactfactors • Nopublicationcharges • OnlineOpenoption • Activesocialmediapresence • Society-ownedpublications Publishingoutstandingecologicalsciencein5high-impactjournals www.BritishEcologicalSociety.org info@BritishEcologicalSociety.org FollowusonTwitter:@BritishEcolSoc JournalofEcology Bypublishingbroad-reachingand originalpapersonallaspectsof plantecology,JournalofEcology bringsthemostimportantpapers inourareatoaninternational audience,aroleithasdeveloped sinceitsfoundationin1913. www.journalofecology.org FunctionalEcologypublishes high-impactpapersthatenable amechanisticunderstanding ofecologicalpatternand processfromtheorganismic totheecosystemscale. www.functionalecology.org FunctionalEcology JournalofAppliedEcology JournalofAppliedEcology publishesnovel,high-impact papersontheinterface betweenecologicalscience andthemanagementof biologicalresources. www.journalofappliedecology.org JournalofAnimalEcology publishesthebestoriginalresearch onallaspectsofanimalecology, rangingfromthemoleculartothe ecosystemlevel. www.journalofanimalecology.org JournalofAnimalEcology MethodsinEcology&Evolution MethodsinEcologyand Evolutionpromotesthe developmentofnewmethods inecologyandevolution,and facilitatestheirdissemination anduptakebytheresearch community. www.methodsinecologyandevolution.org