Peer review is the principal mechanism by which the quality of research is judged. Most funding decisions in science and the academic advancement of scientists are based on peer-reviewed publications.
Because the number of scientific articles published each year continues to grow, the quality of the peer-review process and the quality of the editorial board are cited as primary influences on a journal's reputation, impact factor, and standing in the field.
Onomy Science journals publishing peer-reviewed articles depend heavily on the scientific referees or reviewers who typically volunteer their time and expertise. In most circumstances, at least 2 reviewers are solicited to evaluate a manuscript; some journals request 3 reviews. This may be required in situations where review by a statistician is needed. In cases of controversy or strong disagreement regarding the merits of the work, an additional review may also be solicited or one of the journal's editors might give an evaluation. More than 3 reviewers are sometimes used if reviewers from several fields are needed to obtain a thorough evaluation of a paper.
In addition to fairness in judgment and expertise in the field, peer reviewers have significant responsibilities toward authors, editors, and readers.
Peer-reviewer responsibilities toward authors
Providing written, unbiased feedback in a timely manner on the scholarly merits and the scientific value of the work, together with the documented basis for the reviewer's opinion
Indicating whether the writing is clear, concise, and relevant and rating the work's composition, scientific accuracy, originality, and interest to the journal's readers
Avoiding personal comments or criticism
Maintaining the confidentiality of the review process: not sharing, discussing with third parties, or disclosing information from the reviewed paper
Peer-reviewer responsibilities toward editors
Notifying the editor immediately if unable to review in a timely manner and providing the names of potential other reviewers
Alerting the editor about any potential personal or financial conflict of interest and declining to review when a possibility of a conflict exists (see section 2.3.2)
Complying with the editor's written instructions on the journal's expectations for the scope, content, and quality of the review
Providing a thoughtful, fair, constructive, and informative critique of the submitted work, which may include supplementary material provided to the journal by the author
Determining scientific merit, originality, and scope of the work; indicating ways to improve it; and recommending acceptance or rejection using whatever rating scale the editor deems most useful
Noting any ethical concerns, such as any violation of accepted norms of ethical treatment of animal or human subjects or substantial similarity between the reviewed manuscript and any published paper or any manuscript concurrently submitted to another journal which may be known to the reviewer
Refraining from direct author contact
Journals find it useful to publicly thank reviewers for their generous volunteer efforts. This may take the form of a published list of reviewers that appears in the journal on a regular (annually, semiannually) basis. Journals may also offer continuing medical education credits for completed reviews.