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Peer Review Week: Dr Sarah Karabus

Written by Dr Sarah Karabus 
One of our highly esteemed EMJ Allergy and Immunology Editorial Board members, Dr Sarah Karabus, kindly gave us her thoughts on the importance of the peer reviewing articles and how to minimise bias and increase transparency during the review process.

Peer review is important because it helps the editor to decide whether an article is valid, accurate, and appropriate for publishing. However, bias is inevitable, we are all human after all, but it needs to be minimised. A simple and easy way to minimise bias is to blind reviewers to the authors and their affiliations.

Transparency is a tricky issue during the peer review process, but one that needs to be addressed. Allowing article authors to see reviewer comments on request, thus showing the reader exactly how the decision to publish was taken, would aid in the production of future articles by the authors and could also result in more thoughtful reviews. Of course, there is a risk that junior reviewers would perhaps feel uncomfortable or intimidated about leaving negative comments on papers if they knew that the author would potentially see their comments.

As with all procedures and processes in science and medicine, we should never stop trying to improve upon current methodologies, and the peer review process is no different. Authors should be given a chance to dispute the peer review outcome if their paper has been rejected and to explain in detail why they think their paper should be accepted. Finally, diversity is always an issue in every field, and peer review is obviously no exception. Efforts should of course be made to include reviewers from different nationalities and minority groups.