August 24, 2015 | Elizabeth Allen, Ph.D. student, King's College, London

The next generation of peer reviewers

Getting them involved in the discussion


Sense about Science’s peer review workshops are now a regular occurrence in the Taylor & Francis calendar. Happening twice a year, they give early-career researchers the opportunity to spend an afternoon finding out more about what peer review is, as well as how and why they should get involved. We know many of our editors will supervise, or work with, early-career researchers. Why not tell them about the next workshop and encourage them to come along? It’s on Thursday 17 September at Glasgow Caledonian University and is completely free – find out more about how to apply.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Below is one early-career researcher’s thoughts on the workshop held in London recently. Read on to find out why Elizabeth Allen thinks the next generation of authors, reviewers, scientific journalists, and policy makers “need to talk and learn about peer review in order to maintain its integrity whilst aiding its evolution.”

From Elizabeth Allen, Ph.D. student, King's College, London

“I am a third-year Ph.D. student about to embark on a career in science. I catch snippets here and there about grant applications, reviewers, and academic politics, but for the most part, these things do not yet directly affect me. With a bit of luck I will successfully defend my thesis in the next year or so, and will begin my scientific career in earnest. I would like to imagine that during this career I will make useful contributions to the scientific community, but if I am to do this I need to learn more about the vital parts of the job that happen outside of the laboratory.

In May I attended the “Peer review: the nuts & bolts” workshop organized by Sense About Science for early-career scientists interested in learning more about this crucial process. A distinguished panel of experts from a range of academic, publishing, and advisory backgrounds were there to answer our questions and aid discussion on peer review. Having no previous experience, it was brilliant to get advice about some of the practical aspects of reviewing. I learnt that it is not too early for me to get involved, and that working alongside my supervisor on manuscripts that they are reviewing is a great way to get started. Building a solid portfolio of peer reviews is important and will be scrutinized by publishers!

A large part of the workshop was dedicated to discussion on the future of peer review. In recent years, there have been rapid and substantial changes in the way that scientific literature is disseminated. Consequently, peer review has had to adapt, and will have to continue to evolve in order to safeguard the integrity of scientific research. Scientists can now publish their research online on a whole range of different platforms with varying degrees of regulation. Where and when should peer review be applied? Can the process be expedited to keep up with the growing rates of publication? It was fascinating to hear people’s answers to these kinds of questions, and to be part of the debate.

The topics covered and the things I learnt at the workshop are far too numerous to list here, and I would recommend anyone interested to go to a session to find out more. In fact, I would urge you to, since the main thing that I took away was just how important it is to get early-career scientists involved in discussions on peer review. We are the next generation of authors, reviewers, scientific journalists, and policy makers – we need to talk about and learn about peer review in order to maintain its integrity whilst aiding its evolution.”

Dr. Mike Smith, editor of Journal of Maps, discussing peer review at Sense about Science’s latest workshop.

Published: August 24, 2015 | Author: Elizabeth Allen, Ph.D. student, King's College, London | Category: Front page, In the industry, Information and support, News and ideas, Peer review |