Answered By: Kealin McCabe
Last Updated: Sep 16, 2019     Views: 4

Throughout your university career you will use textbooks, encyclopedia,  and dictionaries to assist you in understanding a topic, but when completing your assignments, you will notice that your professors place an emphasis on having you use peer-reviewed journal articles.

This is because these types of publications go through a rigorous editorial process, whereby they are expert materials, written and reviewed by experts within a particular field. Sometimes you will hear them referred to as “scholarly or academic literature” this is not the same thing as peer-reviewed. Experts can write and publish articles in academic journals that have been edited, but that does not mean it has gone through the peer-review process. While popular publications are edited, peer-reviewed publications go through a more rigorous editorial process, the most common being the blind peer-review process. The blind peer-review process serves  as a quality control mechanism that under ideal circumstances ensures that only the best quality research with the most potential to impact the field is published. 

Let’s look at how this works. You can read or simply watch the video below.

A researcher conducts research and decides that they want to publish their findings and contribute to the already existing body of literature. Typically, they will write the piece using the following format: Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, and Bibliography or References. Once the piece is written, the author will set about selecting a journal to submit it to based on the scope and potential reach of the publication.

When it is received by the publication it will be evaluated by an editor or an editorial team. They will do an initial evaluation of the article based on whether or not it fits the scope of the journal and its potential to improve and advance the research process and to inform decision-making. If a submission fits the established criteria it will be distributed to a group of reviewers who are established experts within the field. Prior to distribution, the editor will strip the manuscript of all identifying information, making it a “blind” peer-review.

In the majority of cases, it will be a double-blind peer-review, where both the author and the reviewers names are unknown. This is done in an attempt to eliminate bias so that the research can be evaluated based solely on its merits.

When a reviewer is sent a manuscript to review, they are not editing it for spelling and grammar. They are:

  • Evaluating the clarity and significance of the research question,
  • the completeness of the literature review,
  • the soundness of the methodology and research design,
  • and how the data was analyzed and what conclusions were drawn.

Their evaluations are based on the established guidelines set by the journal and critical feedback based on their expert knowledge of the field. Once the editor receives the reviewers’ recommendations, he or she will communicate to the author if the article has been:

  1. Accepted with Revisions or
  2. Needs to be revised and resubmitted to go through the process again.

The peer-review process is not infallible. This is why it is vital for you to always be asking questions of everything you read. Yes, this process serves as quality control, but there are instances where BAD research gets published in authoritative  journals and has a negative impact on society and the health of its population.

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