The pool of peer reviewers needs to be increased internationally, and more than two thirds say they require more training, according to the findings of a survey from academic house Wiley.
The survey examining the peer review process - when research is evaluated by experts before it is published - has revealed the need for additional training, a larger pool of reviewers and increased recognition for reviewers.
Verity Warne, associate marketing director at Wiley and the author of the study, said: “The aim of this study was to explore the reviewer experience and delve into recognition and training needs of reviewers. There was particular focus on how these needs may differ by region and career stage.”
Almost 3,000 respondents from 115 countries and “all major subject areas” participated in the survey, which found that the majority of peer review training received by respondents was through journal guidelines or informally as advice from supervisors or colleagues. A total of 77% said they required further training. According to the survey: "It has frequently been asserted that there is a lack of guidance about how to perform a good review, and reviewers are expected to ‘learn on the job’."
Reviewers also said that they would rather receive feedback and recognition from journals over financial reward as they "strongly believe that reviewing is inadequately acknowledged at present and should carry more weight in their institutions' evaluation process."
There is a need to increase the reviewer pool especially in "high-growth and emerging regions of the world" and among "early career researchers", the survey found. Analysis of reviewer and corresponding author data suggests that US researchers bear a "disproportionate burden of review", while Chinese authors publish twice as much as they review.
Journal rank is important to potential reviewers. Results showed that while reviewers choose to review in order to give back to the community, there is more perceived benefit in interacting with the community of a top-ranking journal than a low-ranking one.
Warne said: "In the last 12 months Wiley has been exploring new approaches to recognition and reward, including a current partnership with Publons. Wiley has also launched a reviewer resource center that is available to all reviewers globally.”
Philip Carpenter, executive vice president, research, Wiley, said: “The role of the peer reviewer as expert and guardian of quality in research publishing is as important as ever. The research undertaken by the Wiley team highlights opportunities for increased support and recognition of reviewers.”