Bioethics Blogs

Paying for Journal Peer Review

Academic journal publishing is big business. More
journals are popping up in almost every field especially with the open access
movement dominating academic publishing. While editors of some high impact journals
might reject papers outright, editors of most journals, especially open access
journals, might be willing to send the paper out for peer review so long as it
isn’t methodologically flawed (Arns, 2014). Some predatory open access journals
 likely provide far less scrutiny and may send seriously flawed or poorly
written papers to reviewers – I can personally vouch for this happening for one
open access journal in my field. With the rise of journals and the increased
pressure for scientists to publish, the demand and strain on peer reviewers and
the peer review system is growing.

There are certainly signs that peer review is placing
demands on researchers. For example, my previous supervisor who is an expert in
bioethics and health law once told me he receives a request to peer review an
article every couple of days. Another researcher at Mt. Sinai Hospital at the
University of Toronto in Canada mentioned that he receives 300 requests to
review papers a year, each of which takes him 3-4 hours to complete (Diamandis,
2015). Many of my colleagues who are prolific researchers turn down peer
reviews, trying to do only a few a year or pass it off to junior researchers. In
a recent column of the journal
Nature,
Martijn Arns explains that the increased pressure to review and the reluctance
of researchers to undertake peer review might mean that editors will assign
papers to reviewers who might not have the appropriate expertise in a
particular area.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.