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Information Quality by Galit Shmueli, Ron S. Kenett

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12InfoQ in review processes of scientific publications

12.1 Introduction

Publication of research in academic journals is an important component of scientific advancement as well as a contribution to personal professional development. In the publication process, reviewers play a critical role. They are the main advisors to the gatekeepers (the editor and associate editors), and they also provide feedback to the authors that can be valuable in improving the work. A good reviewer is able to see the contribution of the paper and judge its level and suitability relative to the standard of the particular journal. Yet, this process is usually carried out in an unstructured way with inherent variability between reviewers and even within the same reviewer. Quoting Gewin (2011): “many graduate and postdoctoral students were never taught how to review a manuscript; most peer reviewers learn journals’ needs and the reviewer’s role only through trial and error. Editors’ expectations differ according to their fields, but most agree that simply writing thorough, respectful, and helpful reviews is the best way for early career scientists to find their footing and avoid mistakes.”

In a recent controversial paper, eventually retracted from Nature,1 one of the commenters wrote, “I feel that it would be great if Nature would find a way to publish the reviewers’ comments on this manuscript as well as the editorial procedure. As long as the reviewers agree, it could be very beneficial. For instance, ...

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