The Ideal Future of Peer Review: Through the Editor’s Lens

How will we evaluate and validate scholarly work in the future? Which facets of peer review should remain, and which should we leave behind? As Peer Review Week 2023 concludes, join our editors in envisioning an ideal future for the peer review process.

From 25-29 September 2023 we celebrate Peer Review Week (PRW), which this year explores the relationship between peer review and the future of publishing.

Undoubtedly, peer review faces its share of challenges. This much is clear from the voices and opinions we have gathered on this blog for this year’s Peer Review Week. Amid the heavy workloads of academics, the constant evolution of the research landscape and the swift pace of technological advancements in publishing, it seems that traditional peer review models have some catching up to do.

In our final blog post of the series “Through the Editor’s Lens”, we would like to give our book and journal editors the opportunity to express their vision  for peer review in the future.  Which elements would they keep and what would they leave behind? In a peer review utopia, how would researchers be recognized? What does a peer review process that’s fit for the future look like?

Words From Our Editors

“Increasing workloads mean that it is becoming more difficult to find qualified experts willing to give their time to engage in peer review. As such, in an ‘ideal future’ peer-review would be recognized and given credit as part of every academic’s expected work distribution, not something as now, to be done and over with.”

Prof. Paulo de Medeiros
Editor of the book series Culture and Conflict

“Peer review is not a chore, it is an important service to communities of knowledge without which we are vulnerable to bias, disinformation, and ‘alternative facts’. Research institutions can, for instance, require candidates for some positions to have carried out a certain number of reviews; scholars can mention publishers they have reviewed for in their resumés; and publishers can offer reviewers benefits for their future publications with them on top of monetary or book gifts.”

Dr. Myrto Aspioti
Acquisitions Editor for Literary and Cultural Studies
The biggest challenges of the future are climate change and AI; both will disrupt publishing and academia. Peer review is vital to ensure these challenges are addressed and methodologically accounted for. Additionally, specialists are essential together with generalists, creatives/artists and younger colleagues. We are all stakeholders. Look beyond the functionality of the process and embrace diversity. Reward, moreover, is often immanent. I am certainly insufficiently utilized. Broaden the pool.”

Dr. Andrew Grantham
Author of Sustainable Business Strategy: Analysis, Choice and Implementation
“Different forms of peer review should exist side by side, including one carried out exclusively by the editors of an anthology or series, possibly supplemented by an advisory board. Since the potential reviewers are known, they feel particularly committed to their respective series and work carefully. If they don’t, word gets around very quickly. If they / the series are renowned, authors perceive the acceptance of a submission as a special honor.”

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gardt
Co-Editor of the book series Handbücher Sprachwissen (HSW) and Studia Linguistica Germanica
I don’t think we can afford to do away with blind peer review.  As knowledge becomes more specialized, it is vital to have one or two experts review manuscripts.”

Prof. Irene Kacandes
Series Editor of the book series Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies
Peer reviewing is absolutely essential for high quality journals and not least for high quality book series. To be effective, reports must be critical, constructive and detailed. And, above all, blind: neither author or editor nor reviewer should be informed of identities, only this way can independent reviewing be promoted. Ideally, more than one review should be commissioned.

In the last decade the workload in academia has multiplied by 10, the pressure often feels suffocating. As a series editor, I realize that it has become increasingly difficult to find reviewers, so we must find a way to compensate these for their efforts. Apart from a reward/incentive in the form of books or subscriptions (I still haven´t come across a painter or an electrician willing come to fix a problem in my house without issuing an invoice), in some instances it can also be useful to receive an official certificate from the publisher acknowledging the reviewer’s work and insights provided.

Finally, but crucially, a journal AND a book series obtain high quality and prestige if reviewing processes are strict and constructively critical. The contributions benefit from insightful comments and the reviewing process (or its absence!) are commented on in the scientific community. It is an error to skip external reviewing; it is also an error to leave reviewing mainly to volume-internal refereeing, where the abundance of overly positive reports marking ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ on a standard response form, with hardly any critical comments, is quite conspicuous. That amounts to a non-review, which will not help to improve the quality of the publication(s) and which prevents more solid reviews from reaching the author(s).”

Associate Professor and Managing Editor of a book series

What are your thoughts on the topic?

Check out all of our blog posts on Peer Review Week 2023 and join the conversation on our social media channels using the hashtag #DeGruyterPRW!

[Title image by Mananya Kaewthawee/iStock/Getty Images Plus]

The Editors

Articles signed by the editors were written in a collective effort.

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