Concerns about varying approaches to editing a submitted peer review were discussed in the COPE Education Committee in 2019 and we decided to address this issue. The Committee members were most concerned about the ethical implications of an editor choosing to completely withhold a submitted review if it didn’t conform to her or his own opinion.
We undertook two steps to get more information about what the membership of COPE thought about this issue. Firstly, a lively discussion at a COPE Forum revealed the disparity in practice and concerns on this issue. Secondly, we surveyed the membership. Although the response rate was not large, they did help to enhance our understanding of the range of practices and opinions.
The guidelines examine the issue of whether and under what circumstances it is legitimate for an editor to modify a peer review document. Key take aways are that reviewers should be aware of what is expected from their review and that editors should not amend a reviewer’s intention or meaning, even if it may be appropriate in some circumstances to amend the language.
Nancy Chescheir, COPE Trustee