Thomas Gaston
Thomas Gaston
   Managing Editor, Wiley

Peer review is an integral component of the checking of articles prior to publication, ensuring the quality and validity of scientific and scholarly record. Often “peer review” is used as shorthand for the whole checking process but in fact the review of an article by peers is only one part of that process. Reviewers provide invaluable assessment of aspects including readability, reproducibility, contribution and validity. Different aspects of the paper are checked by others in the process. In this post we list some of the things reviewers are not expected to do.

  1. Formatting
    reviewers.jpgMost journals will have formatting requirements in their author guidelines. These may include such things as the word limit, the recommended structure and the referencing style. Any such submission requirements will be checked by the editorial office upon submission so by the time the paper is sent to reviewers any formatting issues will have been dealt with. In any case, if accepted, the paper will be typeset according the journal stylesheet so nit-picking over style and format at review stage would be wasted effort.
    Having said this, if the structure of the paper interferes with its readability then this is definitely worth commenting on.
  2. Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar
    In the same vein, journal articles will be copyedited prior to publication. In some cases this will be a technical edit; in most cases it will be a general language edit. This means that minor language issues, such as spelling, punctuation, and grammar will be corrected prior to publication and so reviewers are not expected to devote time to such corrections.

    It is helpful if reviewers note language issues that fundamentally affect the meaning of the paper, such as missing negatives, misspelled technical terms, or unclear prose.
  3. Plagiarism
    It would be simply unreasonable to expect reviewers to pick up all instances of plagiarism. Even with a photographic memory and encyclopedic knowledge, this would not be possible. Many journals now employ plagiarism checking software to routinely check submissions for plagiarism and other overlaps with previously published material.

    Reviewers are encouraged to point out anything they find suspicious to the journal’s editorial office.
  4. Ethical Standards
    All good journals seek to uphold high ethical standards for the research they publish and so will require declarations about the ethical standards relevant to their fields. These might include such things as a conflict of interests statement, clinical trial registration, and patient consent forms. These submission requirements will be checked by the editorial office on submission.

    Again, reviewers are encouraged to point out anything they find unethical to the editorial office.
  5. Rerun Research
    Science is an inductive method. Reproducibility is essential to the process of doing science, which is why accurate and detailed reporting of the research methodology is a key component of any scientific paper. Reproducing the research with the same result increases evidential basis of the conclusions. So in an ideal world it would be great to rerun scientific research before its results are published. But that just isn’t practical, which is why reviewers aren’t expected to do it.

    The most any reviewer can do is ensure that the research methodology is sound and that the implications drawn from the results are valid.
  6. Make The Final Decision
    Reviewers provide invaluable advice to editors about whether an article should be published. Ultimately it is the editor who decides whether something is to be published. Most journals will solicit more than one review prior to making a decision, and the editor may solicit a further review if two reviewers disagree. The recommendation that a reviewer provides will always be advisory; the editor may make a different decision.


Image credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock


     Bobby Vocile
Bobby Vocile
Market Analyst, Wiley

One topic of great interest across academia is the evolution of researcher perceptions of open access publishing and data sharing. In September, this was the focus of the latest in Wiley’s annual surveys of the research community. The 2016 Wiley Open Science Researcher Survey* builds upon our previous surveys on open access and open data to discover trends in research. Despite geographical and subject-level differences among authors, there are underlying commonalities in open science practices. The insights reported by our respondents show a willingness to move forward with open initiatives, but confusion around the best ways to do so.


Open Access


Publishing open access is on the rise, with nearly two thirds of authors indicating that they have published an article in a hybrid or full gold journal, up 8% from 2013.


Survey respondents perceived an increase in requirements from funders and institutions to make versions of their article publicly available, either through gold or green open access.


The most funder requirements for gold open access were reported in the life sciences (12%), whereas funders in the physical sciences reportedly have the most requirements for green open access (52%). In terms of institutional requirements, again, researchers in life and physical sciences reported having the most overall requirements of either gold or green open access (59% and 62% respectively).


58% of authors from the Asia-Pacific region reported funder requirements for open access, the most across the three regions surveyed. This compared to 44% of respondents from the Americas, and 47% from Europe, Middle East and Africa. There was a larger difference across the regions in reported institutional requirements; 66% of authors in Asia-Pacific reported requirements, compared to just 39% in the Americas.



Article Archiving


Archiving of articles has reportedly more than doubled, including deposition in institutional and public repositories, as well as on personal webpages.


44% of researchers report depositing their article in an institutional repository, making these the most common place for archiving work.


‘Institutional requirements’ and ‘dissemination’ are the top reasons why researchers are archiving their articles, with 34% and 29% of respondents citing these factors respectively. The number of authors naming institutional requirements as a reason for archiving has increased markedly, up 24%. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific, institutional requirements are the leading motive for archiving an article, whereas in the Americas, dissemination is a stronger reason. Regardless of subject area, approximately one-third of all respondents archive due to institutional requirements.


Data Sharing


69% of our researchers have indicated that they have shared data from their research in some way. This represents a 17% increase from our previous study in 2014, where 52% of researchers indicated that they had shared data.**


The most common ways in which researchers reported sharing their data was either at a conference (48%), as supplementary material in a journal (40%), or informally/on request (33%). Only 41% report sharing data formally via any form of data repositories (institutional, discipline-specific, or general-purpose). Just over 20% of researchers say that they have shared data formally via institutional repositories, which represents an increase of 7% over the past two years. These results demonstrate that researchers continue to be unclear on what ‘sharing’ data means in the sense of providing unlimited, appropriately licensed and permanent access to their data and other artefacts.


Other than being required to, the top reasons why our researchers state they share are to ‘increase the impact and visibility of (their) research’, for ‘public benefit’, and ‘transparency and re-use’. Researchers say that the top reasons for not sharing are ‘intellectual property and confidentiality issues’, and concerns over ‘ethics’ and ‘misuse’ of research. These results are largely in line with previous surveys; the exception being ‘ethical concerns’, which is now the second most common reason authors cite for not sharing data.


As Open Science continues to evolve, understanding the perceptions of our researchers in this time of change is just the first step in the right direction as we continually work towards making research more accessible, collaborative, and transparent. To find out how Wiley supports Open Science, visit our Open Science page.

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Click on infographic above to enlarge



Here's a more focused look at Data Sharing trends.

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Click on infographic above to enlarge.


*In September 2016, Wiley contacted approximately 55,000 of our authors across many disciplines and received more than 4,600 responses. The survey effort focused on Open Science, broadly aiming to help us understand how researchers approach open access requirements, manage data, and participate in the sharing and archiving of their research. It is important to note that our survey just represents the perceptions of our researchers and provides directional findings for Wiley to explore. Additionally, the results from this survey are being shared on our figshare page, available for download and full re-use here.


** Our 2014 Data survey reported data sharing as those who just share data. In 2016 we have reflected data sharing as those who both produce and share data.


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