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What is peer review?

The peer review process is a fundamental part of the scholarly communication process.  It is a quality control system for published research. 

In summary, peer review involves experts in the field assessing the strength of a piece of work and its suitability for publication. 

This is a short video overview of the peer review process, produced by the American Chemical Society. There are however lots of variations on how peer review is undertaken and the process depicted here may not be the same in other journals and publications.

Types of peer review

Common types of peer review include:

  • single blind (reviewers names are not revealed)
  • double blind (author and reviewers names are not revealed)

A more open approach to peer review, where the process is more transparent, is also being used by some journals. There is more information about Open Peer Review on our Open Research guide.

Some publications use post publication peer review.  This article from F1000 Research is helpful in explaining "what is post publication peer review".

The future of peer review

Below are some resources that will help you to find out more about how peer review may evolve in the future.

This report provides some background to peer review, including a critique of the process and future trends:
Scholarly Communication and Peer Review: The Current Landscape and Future Trends: A Report Commissioned by the Wellcome Trust.

For wider discussions on possibly changes to peer review you may find these useful:

Becoming a peer reviewer

Publishers often provide guidance on peer reviewing. There may be guidance provided by the publisher you are reviewer for, so see if you can find this.  Some examples are below:

It is also recommended that you read the SHU principles of good research practice for peer reviewers, which provides a code of conduct for individuals who review the work of others.

You may also find the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers useful.

Publons provides a way to get credit for your peer review activities and you may wish to investigate using this service.

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Collegiate Library [map pdf]

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