Re: Ninth international congress on peer review and scientific publication—call for abstracts
Rewarding peer reviewers - is it sufficient?
The importance and the aim of the ninth international congress on peer review and scientific publications are well explained by Ioannidis et al (1). It highlights examples of various topics of interest to be covered at the congress and one of the important areas is Models for peer review and scientific publication- Evaluations of reward systems for authors, reviewers, and editors. This international congress would be an opportunity to provide an excellent platform for bringing beneficial actions for better rewarding systems for peer reviewers.
Whether peer reviewers need to be paid by the journals is an important issue argued and debated (2). Valuable time of many days and intellectual energy of scientists and clinicians are consumed for peer reviewing scholarly manuscripts besides his or her routine professional work (3). The important scientific inputs from peer reviewers certainly help authors to advance their work and importantly improve the quality of the journals. Today, many journals which attained prestigious status with high impact factor are due to the excellent peer reviews extended by outstanding peer reviewers, editorial teams and scholarly research by authors. The invaluable contributions from the peer reviewers and the need for rewarding them are well voiced by Smith - “Science publishers get their “oil” (scientific studies) for free and manage to avoid paying many of their “suppliers” (for example, peer reviewers)”(4). The peer reviewers in other capacities of their professional areas are amply rewarded through honorariums for evaluation of research thesis, conducting examinations and viva voice, delivering talks at the conferences, project proposal evaluation and sitting fees for the scientific meetings and scientific panel of the organizations and others.
Number of journals in various disciplines has increased tremendously for the last many years and experienced reviewers in various disciplines get multiple requests from various journals (5). Currently reviewers are rewarded by listing them together annually in the journals by the publishers, creating personalized profile page, review certificates, free access to journals for certain period, discount for buying publishers’ publications etc but mostly without any monetary benefit.
Although scientific enterprise and impact of journals are depended on the quality of peer reviewing, rewarding the reviewers monetarily is not happening (6). Rewards and incentives will certainly help maintain good quality, integrity and high standard of scientific publications (7). Hence, there shall be both financial and non-financial modes of rewarding peer reviewers for their excellent contributions. The proposed scientific congress should address this issue seriously to adopt suitable measures to implement best mechanisms for both financial and non-financial rewarding, recognizing and sustaining the excellent peer reviewers. Peer reviewers remain the intellectual powerhouse for many journals.
1 Ioannidis J P A, Berkwits M, Flanagin A, Godlee F, Bloom T. Ninth international congress on peer review and scientific publication—call for abstracts BMJ 2021; 374 :n2252 doi:10.1136/bmj.n2252 https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2252
2 Brainard. J. The $450 question: Should journals pay peer reviewers? Science 1 March 2021. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/03/450-question-should-journals-pay... doi:10.1126/science.abh3175
3 Kleinert S. Peer reviewers deserve recognition. Lancet 2008; 371:798
4 Smith R Peer reviewers—time for mass rebellion? BMJ 1 February 2021. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/02/01/richard-smith-peer-reviewers-time-f...
5 Diamandis E. Peer review as a business transaction. Nature 2015; 517: 145. https://doi.org/10.1038/517145a
6 Bearer C F, Chalak L, Fuentes-Afflick E. et al. The rewards of peer-reviewing. Pediatr Res 2020; 87: 2 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41390-019-0573-7
7 Gasparyan AY, Gerasimov AN, Voronov AA, Kitas GD. Rewarding Peer Reviewers: Maintaining the Integrity of Science Communication. J Korean Med Sci. 2015; 30:360-364. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2015.30.4.360
ASTRA Chair Professorship
DAE SRC Fellow, Humboldt Fellow, Tata Innovation Fellow
Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology
Associate Faculty, Biosystems Science and Engineering
Indian Institute of Science
Associate Fellow AIAA
DST-SwarnaJayanti Fellow in Engineering Sciences
Interdisciplinary Center for Energy Research,
Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore -12 India
K S Nandakumar
Practicing Medical Scientist
E-11, Indian Institute of Science,
Competing interests: No competing interests