Peer Review of Scientific Paper
What characteristic of scientific research distinguishes it from alchemy, mysticism, occultism and magic? First of all, it is an open access to the results for discussion, reproduction and ultimately refutation. Scientific knowledge should be public, should not be a personal non-reproducible experience as in mysticism or esoteric mystery, accessible only to the initiated - magic or alchemy.
In 1665, the world's first English scientific Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge, established in 1660 and approved by the Royal Charter in 1662, published the first issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions. Since then, peer-reviewed periodicals have been an integral part of the scientific method and have become such since the emergence of science in its modern form.
To date, peer-reviewing of scientific papers and their subsequent publication in scientific journals is still the main way of registration, verification, and dissemination of scientific discoveries and results. The process of publication and the speed with which articles are reviewed and published are key elements in the recognition of relevant research. Public defense of dissertations is a natural continuation of publications in peer-reviewed journals. The publishing process and the speed at which articles are reviewed and published are key elements in relevant scientific research recognition. Public defense of dissertations is a natural continuation of publications in peer-reviewed publications.
When reviewing, the scientific level of the researcher's work is evaluated and confirmed. Although the peer review process has been criticized in recent years, it remains the only common method of scientific evaluation of research and the cornerstone of the process of scientific publication. The journal “Svetotekhnika”, like most scientific publications, depends on an effective peer review process to maintain the quality and reliability of individual articles.
Most reviewers are authors and researchers. Reviewers are colleagues and fellow authors who want to contribute directly to this part of the scientific process. Therefore, reviewers play a very important role in science and in scientific publications. For more than 300 years, scientists and researchers have relied on peer review to validate research, engage other professionals to support the work presented, and build linkages and increase information sharing in specific areas.
The review process allows authors and editors to use and develop their own experience in a number of important ways:
- ensures that the scientific process meets strict standards. Expert evaluation systems have existed for centuries, and each generation of researchers contributes to the growth of scientific information;
- maintains the journal's common requirements for research quality by identifying invalid research, helping the journal to keep its quality and standards;
- defines scientific obligations to the community in a field of science;
- establishes relations between authors and editorial staff, and some authors are invited to work by the editorial office;
- defines professional ethics. Typically, authors and reviewers often change roles, and the reviewer pays the same courtesy that he received, being the author of his article;
- defines the reputation and key indicators for the community;
- determines the reliability of modern information in the literature.
The review process can be presented in the form of a diagram shown in Figure 1.
There are three main types of reviews:
- A single hidden review - the names of reviewers are hidden from the authors.
It is the traditional and most common method of review. The advantage is that the anonymity of the reviewer opens the possibility of an impartial review, free from the influence of the author. The disadvantage is that there is a danger for the author that the reviewer, working in the same field as the author, will delay the publication of the article in order to publish the close results first. Reviewers can use their anonymity for excessive criticality or harshness, commenting on the author's work.
- A double hidden review – both (the reviewer and the author) remain anonymous for each other.
The advantage is that the author's anonymity prevents the bias of the review due to, for example, the assessments of the author's previous work, his place of work, the country of residence. Articles written by "prestigious" or famous authors are considered on the general basis of the content of the submitted work, but not the author's reputation. The disadvantage is that it is unclear whether the author of the article will be truly "blind" - the reviewer can often identify the author by the style of the presentation, the topic, the used method or through quotations.
- An open review – the author and reviewer know each other.
The advantage is that some researchers consider this type of review the best way against unkind comments, stopping plagiarism, warning reviewers from deliberate article delays, and encouraging open, honest reviews. Others claim the opposite opinion. The disadvantage is that they believe that an open review is a less honest process in which politeness or fear of retribution can cause the reviewer to abstain or mitigate criticism. For example, younger reviewers may be embarrassed to criticize more respected authors for fear of damaging their scientific career. An independent research, as a rule, supports this.
Review helps the editor to make a decision to publish and improve the quality of the article interacting with the author. Any selected reviewer who understands the lack of his qualification for the analysis of the manuscript submitted to him or the impossibility of reviewing the work on time must notify the editor about it.
When reviewing, it is necessary to be completely confidential in relation to the manuscript of the article. It can not be demonstrated or discussed with other experts, except in cases agreed with the editorial staff. The reviewer must strive to be as objective as possible. Person's attacks against the author of the article are inadmissible. The reviewer should express his view clearly with the appropriate arguments.
Reviewers should identify relevant published works that have not been cited by the authors. Each statement that an observation, conclusion or an argument have been previously reported must be accompanied by appropriate quotes. The reviewer should also pay the editor's attention to the significant similarity or coincidence of the results of the manuscript and any other published work.
Unpublished materials described in the submitted manuscript can not be used by the reviewer in his own studies without the author's consent. Confidential information or ideas obtained during the review should not be disclosed and used for personal gain. The reviewer should not consider manuscripts in which there is a conflict of interest with the author, for competition, collaborative work or other relationship with any of the authors, companies or institutions associated with the manuscript.
Expert evaluation has two main functions:
- acts as a filter: ensures that the study is properly checked before publication;
- improves the quality of research: a thorough review of the article by other specialists helps to sharpen key points and correct unintended errors.
Before starting to write a review, the reviewer should consider the following questions:
- Does the article you are currently invited to review correspond to your qualification? The editor who addressed you may not know exactly your areas of interest, but may view your work in a broader context. Accept the invitation only if you are competent enough to evaluate this article.
- Do you have enough time to review the article? Reviewing the article may require a lot of time. The time required for consideration may vary from the subject, but on average the article requires at least 3 hours to be read properly. Will you have enough time before the deadline provided in the invitation to conduct a thorough review? If you can not make a review, you should immediately let the editor know, and, if possible, call the editor of alternative reviewers.
- Is there a risk of conflict of your interests with the author? Conflict of interests does not necessarily exclude you from reviewing the article, but full information will allow the editor to make the most informed decision. For example, if you work in one department or institute, you were previously a co-author or have professional or financial links with an article. All factors must be listed when answering the editor's proposal for review.
The review is conducted confidentially; the article is not the subject to disclosure to third parties. If the reviewer wants to know the opinions of colleagues or students on the article, then he must inform the editor about it in advance. Most editors welcome additional comments, but those who are still involved should also keep the peer review process confidential. The reviewer should not attempt to contact the author.
The reviewer should keep in mind that after submitting of the review any of his recommendations will be taken into account in the development of the final decision made by the editor.
To write a review, it is necessary to put aside for two or three hours all the other tasks. It's better to complete the assessment at a stretch than to wrest time here and there.
The manuscript of the article must be evaluated according to a number of criteria:
- Novelty - is the article sufficiently new and interesting for publication? How significant is its contribution to science? Does the article correspond to the scientific standards of the journal? Is the research topic sufficiently significant in this field of knowledge? In order to assess the novelty of the article and the appropriateness of its publication, it is useful to estimate the study as a percentage. Does it refer to the top 25% of articles in this field? A literature review of previous publications in this field is very appropriate here.
- The structure of the article – how clearly does the article present the content? Are there all the key elements in it: abstract, introduction, methods, results, conclusion?
How accurate does the title correspond to the content of the article? Does the abstract reflect the content of the work? How accurately and precisely does the introduction formulate the research problem?
Typically, the introduction has one or two paragraphs. It should determine the purpose and goals of this study, which should logically follow from the state of the issue in the contemporary literature in this field. The introduction should describe the experiment, the hypothesis, the investigation method.
Methods – how accurately did the author explain the method of data obtaining? Does the proposed model allow to answer the questions? Is there enough information to repeat the study? If the proposed methods are new, how are they defined in detail? How exactly is the experimental setup described? How accurate is the measurement procedure?
Results – here the results are strictly and accurately described: how logically and clearly are they stated? How strictly are they analyzed?
Conclusion and discussion: do the conclusions follow from the results of the article? Do the results correspond to the previous studies? Do the conclusions support or refute the existing theories?
The reviewer should evaluate the language of the article. Grammar errors greatly complicate understanding and scientific results. However, the reviewer should not correct these errors, but only inform the editor about it.
Finally, when considering the whole article, should it be determined whether the figures and tables are an organic part of the article? How accurately do they describe the results? Are they clear and understandable? How accurate and complete is the list of references? Is there any basic work missing?
Ethical problems are very important in the review. First of all, plagiarism – if there is a suspicion that the work is essentially copying the results of another work, then you need to inform the editor about the relevant quotes. Equally significant is the suspicion of deception. It is very difficult to detect and identify a fraudster, but if the reviewer has a suspicion that the results in the article do not correspond to reality, then it is necessary to discuss it with the editor.
The final step in the article assessing is writing a report. If there is a feeling that you do not keep within the deadline, then tell the editor. The report should contain key elements of the review and address the issues outlined in the previous section. Comments should be polite and constructive, not contain any personal comments. It is important to determine and explain the shortcomings of the work. The reviewer should explained and state his opinion so that both editors and authors can understand better the essence of his comments.
When you make recommendations to the editor regarding the article, you should think over the category:
- The article is rejected due to poor quality or does not correspond to the topic of the journal;
- The article is accepted without corrections;
- The article is accepted, but a minimum revision is needed without further review;
- The article is accepted, but a serious revision is needed followed by a second review.
In the last case, a clear definition is needed. It is also necessary to make a note to the editor that he is to revise the article and find out about his agreement or disagreement.
Figure 1. The scheme of passing the manuscript from the stage of obtaining by the editorial staff to publication.