Why Transparency is Important to Recognition for Review #PeerRevWk17

Stockholm University Press is proud to take part in Peer Review Week 2017. We would like to draw attention in this blog post to how transparency in the peer review process of books is also related to recognition for review. More precisely we wish to discuss what is transparent and for whom.

By Christina Lenz, Managing Editor of books

How a rigorous peer review process is performed needs to be transparent

What we would like to discuss is how transparency in the peer review process is applied at Stockholm University Press for books, although the discussion is also applicable for articles in journals.

As we stated in our blog posts in in Peer Review Week 2016 A researcher driven publisher should give recognition for review #peerrevw16 part 1 and part 2, we believe in the importance of rigorous peer review for all journal articles, book proposals and manuscripts.

One way of transparency is to have Guidelines and Routines, i.e. for Editorial Boards Evaluating Books and the ethical guidelines (COPE) fully open access.

How we do our peer review process for books is also transparent on our website and described in last year’s blog posts A researcher driven publisher should give recognition for review #peerrevw16 part 1

What is transparent and for whom in the peer review process for books?

Here we would like to focus on what is transparent and for whom? We find it vital that the peer review process is transparent to the right persons – in this case the author, the reviewers, the editorial board and the publishing committee.

If the research, the ideas and thought of the author or the way the author expresses him- or herself are questioned by the reviewers in any way, this needs to be clarified in the process. There could be accusations of serious matters, such as plagiarism or copyright issues. There could also be a misunderstanding between the author and the reviewers about i.e. what the book contents actually should be. The reviewer could be reviewing “a wish for book”, not the actual manuscript.

Another scenario could be that we at the press, the editorial board or the publishing committee state that the reviewers have not done their job correctly. All these examples are about what should be transparent and what needs to be expressed in the best possible way by all parts involved. The dialogue itself is also what needs to be transparent.

As a press we need to deal with this situation together with the editorial boards and the publishing committee, in an ethical and correct and transparent way. This is how we work as a press and how our peer review process is conducted. A dialogue about what needs to be both clarified and transparent in this process.

How is transparency related to recognition for review?

We do think that when there is a dialogue between the reviewers and the authors about the reviews, there is a transparency for both parts and also recognition for review. The reviewers receive feedback directly from the authors which is hopefully also part of a respectful and grateful appreciation of the work done by the reviewers, which in itself is a way to give recognition to their work.

Also it can be shown to the reviewers by the editorial boards when asking for more response given by the reviewer. Again, we see here that we talk about what and for whom, in a dialogue between different peers. This process needs to be transparent and held in a respectful way.

How does Stockholm University Press give recognition for peer review of manuscripts?

Since last year Stockholm University Press has applied recognition for peer reviewers of manuscripts in a new way. We started to add a short summary of our Peer Review Policies in all our published books in 2017. There it is stated what kind of peer review process the Editorial board of the book series apply.

We also ask the editorial board if they want us to ask the reviewers if they would like to be mentioned in the book with their names. This decision we leave with the editorial boards and then the reviewers themselves.

So far the editorial boards of the books published in 2017 have declined this option. This can, will and should be discussed within the scholarly communities themselves. There are academic traditions at hand and we leave it open for the societies themselves to discuss this.

As a University Press we would certainly welcome a discussion about how presses apply transparency in the peer review process, which we think is related to how to give credit to the reviewers for their precious and much appreciated work, on which we as publishers are very much dependent on.

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


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