Revamping the Scientific Review Process

The peer review system for journal publication works reasonably well but is far from perfect.

The following was originally posted by friend Talking Brains.

The peer review system for journal publication works reasonably well, but is far from perfect. A major problem is the delay in review time, often caused by the difficulty of finding reviewers as well as reviewers failing to get their reviews in on time. I raised this issue previously on TB in the context of possibly paying reviewers for their service in order to encourage reviewers to accept assignments. There were some interesting responses to that idea.

Now, with four overdue reviews in my Human Brain Mapping editorial cue (7, 35, 38, and 66 days late), I'm thinking more about how to encourage reviewers to get their reviews in on time, besides pestering with annoying emails.

One commenter on my previous post had a good idea: link the timing of the review process for an author's manuscript submission to how long it takes him or her to provide reviews of other authors' manuscripts. Given that multiple journals subscribe to a few edited service website/systems (e.g., Scholar One, it may be possible to track a reviewer's on-time performance and then apply that information in the review of his or her submissions. For example, if a reviewer is, on average, 14 days late, the action editor would wait 14 days before starting the review process. There would, of course, be the normal delays in finding reviewers and getting reviews back, but late reviewers would have this extra fixed delay built in.

Do you think this would motivate you to get your reviews in on time?