You are here

Letter from the COPE Chair: September 2019

The 16th-20th of September is Peer Review Week, with this year's theme Quality In Peer Review. This is now an anticipated time in the calendar for many of our members around the world and a number of events focus on issues related to peer review and publication ethics and integrity.

As a long time editor of journals and books, I know well the variance of opinion on the importance of peer review. Anecdotally, we often hear skepticism among authors about the value of peer review and whether it is always objective and free from conflict of interest. As many of us who are editors can readily attest, many scholars take peer review very seriously and provide detailed and constructive feedback that helps to improve authors’ work and its contribution to the scholarly record. However, we also know that the quality of reviews is variable and the problem of recognition of this valuable service is frequently under-appreciated by the institutions that employ our reviewers. As COPE moves forward in the implementation  of our university membership project, this may result in helpful discussions between our editors and publishers and university members. The significant labour necessary for good peer review needs to be appropriately recognized in tenure and promotion applications. The system partially and heavily depends on quality peer review and this should never by overlooked by all the stakeholders in the process.

In 2017 our university pilot partners helped to revise our COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers bringing the voice of researchers to this guidance. This guidance for peer reviewers sits well alongside COPE's flowchart What to Consider When Asked to Peer Review a Manuscript. There is more peer review guidance on our website, some of which has been translated from the original English versions.

As well, peer review week provides a good opportunity to discuss the evolution of so many forms of peer review, many of which may not be fully understood by authors considering which journals to submit their manuscripts. In this edition of Digest, Nancy Chescheir discusses cases of relevance to peer review that involve authors, editors and reviewers in her blog post When the Peer Review Process Goes Sideways

We are looking forward to seeing colleagues at our European Seminar on 23 September in Leiden, Netherlands where we'll be discussing  text recycling, predatory publishing, retractions, reporting cases of misconduct in the media and the findings from our recent study among editors in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.


COPE Chair Deborah Poff




Read September 2019 Digest newsletter celebrating Peer Review Week. Nancy Chescheir's blog empahises the good work done in peer review and some of the ethical breaches that can occur. We share COPE guidance and support on peer review and responses from AHSS editors on peer review issues they face. New and updated cases from the August COPE Forum are now available and you can read the monthly update on news, collated by COPE Council members, and events that you may be interested in.