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APE Conference: The Peer Review Process and the Role of Editors

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APE Conference: The Peer Review Process and the Role of Editors

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To understand more about peer review, the role that editors play, and how accountability and transparency promote ethics and integrity in the process, Nature Communications’ Editor in Chief Elisa De Ranieri shares her slides from APE Conference 2019.

To understand more about peer review, the role that editors play, and how accountability and transparency promote ethics and integrity in the process, Nature Communications’ Editor in Chief Elisa De Ranieri shares her slides from APE Conference 2019.

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APE Conference: The Peer Review Process and the Role of Editors

  1. 1. Editor-mediated Peer Review Panel on integrity, ethics and peer review APE 2019 Elisa De Ranieri, Editor-in-Chief, Nature Communications e.deranieri@nature.com 16 January 2019
  2. 2. 1 Creating a more robust peer review process • Author contribution statements, 2009 • Double blind peer review, 2015 • Transparent peer review, 2016 • Under Consideration, 2017 • Reviewer recognition, 2018 Editor-mediated peer review is evolving We can do more in 2019 Publishing editorial letters? Registered Reports? Support diversity? Research ethics and integrity Publishing ethics and integrity Community ethics and integrity Illustrations from Pixabay
  3. 3. 2 The role of our editors We work with the research communities. Develop quality and reproducibility standards for doing and reporting research. Applied via editorial policy and using checklists during review process. Full-time, professional editors are independent. Less competing interests and more objectivity in decisions. Reviewer selection essential to maintain integrity of published material: our editors have the competence (and time!) to provide a high-quality peer review experience. “There was a substantial improvement in the reporting of risks of bias in in vivo research in NPG journals following a change in editorial policy.” Macleod et al. https://doi.org/10.1101/187245
  4. 4. 3 Transparency, accountability and trust There is trust in this system, but we need to keep up. Can transparency coexist with temporarily withholding information (e.g. double blind model)? Editors Reviewers Authors Readers Identity Content Process

Editor's Notes

  • No introduction needed to standard peer review model led by editors (publishers).
    Editor-mediated peer review not the same black box anymore, new initiatives introduced as enabled by new technology and to capture evolving needs of research to make peer review more robust in relation to research, publication and community ethics and integrity.

    Editors keen to innovate, and delays mostly due to infrastructure updates (for large publishers at least). Editors try to work around these constraints.

    At Nat Comms, initiatives have been trialled then introduced in the past few year – colour-coded to match the ethics and integrity categories defined.



  • Ethics and integrity championed and maintained by editors and their publishers.
    Our professional, in-house editors are competent (PhD, postdoc), independent (not active researchers) actors in the process.

    All this fosters integrity in the publishing process, and promotes ethics in research practices.

    Strength of publisher’s model: independent editors can coordinate new initiatives with communities and enforce them via policies.
  • I’d argue that there is still trust in the system, despite its shortcomings that we try to address as described. Publishers can’t sit on laurels, and need to make all contributors more accountable and process transparent. Transparency and accountability improve trust, and support and enable ethics and integrity.

    Blockchain technology might be the ultimate trustworthy platform, but there are simpler tools that publishers can use to improve trust via improved transparency.

    Publish names, reports, letters, be open about process times and procedures, support early disclosure, mandate source data, step up on competing interests.

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