A researcher driven publisher should give recognition for review #peerrevw16 part I

Stockholm University Press are proud to celebrate Peer Review Week 2016, and as a start of this week’s activities we would like to focus on the peer review process we apply for book projects and journals, and how that relates to the theme “Recognition for Peer Review”. We will describe what, how and why we do peer review and how recognition is applied.

Blog post by Christina Lenz and Sofie Wennström

The peer review process with Stockholm University Press

We believe in a rigorous peer review process to further enhance or adjust manuscripts before publication. All journal articles, book proposals and book manuscripts published with Stockholm University Press are sent for external peer review. This process serves as a compliment to the screening process carried out by the Editors and/or Editorial Board groups.

In order to ensure that the review process is carried out according to best practice for ethical editing, all parties involved have to accept and follow the COPE guidelines.

The reviewers holds the main responsibility for the quality check in this process, so we definitely want to give them recognition for their work. This is something that is not yet implemented at our press, but we are currently investigating different possibilities.

Single-blind, double-blind or open peer review?

The journals and books published by Stockholm University Press use either a single-blind or a double-blind peer review process. The level of anonymity is decided by the Editors or Editorial Boards of each project in collaboration with the Press staff. It is however not written in stone that this needs to be applied for all the journal projects we work with, so other forms of peer review can definitely be considered. There are examples of open peer review from other publihsers, like F1000Research, ScienceOpen or Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The EU-project OpenAIRE are currently running a survey about open peer review to gather more information about attitudes towards more transparency in review processes, and are also funding projects that are further exploring the possibilities of this new take on the quality assessment of scholarly communication items.

As for books, we mostly administer project single-blind peer review approach, although double-blind or open review is also a possibility, depending on the needs and aims of the editors and editorial boards. We are aware that there are different views on the pros and cons, but this is not the focus of our discussion, even if it may have an effect on the end result, i.e. how recognition for review could be valued in a special context of a research community.

Recognition for reviewers – fee or no fee?

We often get questions about the possibilities to pay fees to reviewers. The reasons why we don’t apply such remuneration are many, but the main reason for this practice is because it could be considered that giving recognition for review would be to pay (high) fees to reviewers.

Stockholm University Press does however not pay their reviewers. Why not? First, it is not part of our business model. Stockholm University Press is part of the Stockholm University Library and financed from State Agency funds, which means that there are a lot of rules and regulations in place that makes it difficult to pay fair fees to external individuals without a lot of extra administration. We believe that the small fee we would be able to pay, and the additional administrative costs for managing such a process would not be sustainable.

Secondly, we know that researchers perform reviews as part of their academic work, in order to contribute to the ecosystem of communicating science. It is a collaborative process of helping each other for the benefit of research excellence, a process that is not driven by monetary incentives but rather ideology. Nevertheless, editorial boards are allowed to make decisions themselves, which would open up for payment of reviewers if they had funds to use for this purpose and if they would be prepared to handle the administration of payments.

Don’t compromise the quality

Stockholm University Press is often described in presentations as “A researcher driven publisher”. This is our way to describe the aim to be as flexible as possible as a publisher and at the same time never to compromise the quality assurance checks. We also believe that to give recognition for review is in the best interest of the researcher on whose behalf we do what we do.

Similar discussions are going in this week, i.e. in The Scholarly Kitchen.

Do you have any thoughts or want to contribute with your thoughts on Peer Review? Please leave a comment.

Part 2

Read part 2 here.


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