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Learning to review submissions to peer reviewed journals: how do they do it?

Brian Paltridge (University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal for Researcher Development

ISSN: 2048-8696

Article publication date: 17 May 2013

3511

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to examine how reviewers for academic journals learn to carry out the task of peer review and the issues they face in doing this.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 45 reviewers completed a questionnaire which asked about their experience in doing peer reviews, how they had learnt to do them, and the issues they faced in doing these reviews. Follow up emails were also sent to reviewers in order to seek further elaboration on the answers they had provided in the questionnaire.

Findings

Over half of the reviewers had learnt to do reviews by reading reviews of their own submissions to peer‐reviewed journals. Others had learnt to write reviews by just doing them; that is, by practice. The most challenging aspect for the reviewers was writing reviewers' reports that were critical but still constructive. There was no consensus on the most straightforward aspects of writing peer reviews.

Practical implications

The study has implications for reviewer development, proposing an experiential, “learning by doing” approach to the training of reviewers rather than a didactic, information transmission style one.

Social implications

The study has implications for reviewer development, proposing an experiential, “learning by doing” approach to the training of reviewers rather than a didactic, information transmission style one.

Originality/value

The study provides insights into how reviewers learn to write peer reviews and the challenges they face in doing this. The paper also suggests strategies for improving reviewer development which can have benefits, especially for early career researchers.

Keywords

Citation

Paltridge, B. (2013), "Learning to review submissions to peer reviewed journals: how do they do it?", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 6-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-07-2013-0011

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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