This global survey reports on the attitudes and behaviour of 3040 academics in relation to peer review in journals. Peer review is seen as an essential component of scholarly communication, the mechanism that facilitates the publication of primary research in academic journals.
Although sometimes thought of as an essential part of the journal, it is only since the second world war that peer review has been institutionalised in the form we know it today. More recently it has come under criticism on a number of fronts: it has been said that it is unreliable, unfair and fails to validate or authenticate; that it is unstandardised and idiosyncratic; that its secrecy leads to irresponsibility on the part of reviewers; that it stifles innovation; that it causes delay in publication; and so on. Perhaps the strongest criticism is that there is a lack of evidence that peer review actually works, and a lack of evidence to indicate whether the documented failings are rare exceptions or the tip of an iceberg. The survey reported here does not attempt directly to address the question of whether or not peer review works, but instead looks in detail at the experiences and perceptions of a large group of mostly senior authors, reviewers and editors (there is of course considerable overlap between these groups). Respondents were spread by region and by field of research broadly in line with the universe of authors publishing in the journals in the Thomson Scientific database, which covers the leading peer reviewed journals. The survey presents its findings in two broad areas: attitudes to peer review and current practices in peer review
M. Ware, M. Monkman