Quantifying professionalism in peer review

  • Gerwing T
  • Allen Gerwing A
  • Avery-Gomm S
  • et al.
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The process of peer-review in academia has attracted criticism surrounding issues of bias, fairness, and professionalism; however, frequency of occurrence of such comments is unknown. We evaluated 1491 sets of reviewer comments from the fields of “Ecology and Evolution” and “Behavioural Medicine,” of which 920 were retrieved from the online review repository Publons and 571 were obtained from six early career investigators. Comment sets were coded for the occurrence of “unprofessional comments” and “incomplete, inaccurate or unsubstantiated critiques” using an a-prior rubric based on our published research. Results are presented as absolute numbers and percentages. Overall, 12% (179) of comment sets included at least one unprofessional comment towards the author or their work, and 41% (611) contained incomplete, inaccurate of unsubstantiated critiques (IIUC). The large number of unprofessional comments, and IIUCs observed could heighten psychological distress among investigators, particularly those at an early stage in their career. We suggest that development and adherence to a universally agreed upon reviewer code of conduct is necessary to improve the quality and professional experience of peer review.




Gerwing, T. G., Allen Gerwing, A. M., Avery-Gomm, S., Choi, C.-Y., Clements, J. C., & Rash, J. A. (2020). Quantifying professionalism in peer review. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-020-00096-x

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