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Assisting Journal Reviewers

January 7, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 1

As an author, I am much assisted by comments received from reviewers after I submit a manuscript to a journal. These comments may advise on improvements to approach and style, provide information, and even correct my errors. This feedback allows me to improve my presentation. As a reviewer, however, I receive little assistance except for some general comments regarding the basis for publication recommendations, and no feedback.

It has long seemed to me that reviewers would be much assisted if, subsequent to submitting their review of a manuscript, they could be provided with the full editorial response to the authors of the manuscript; that is, the editorial decision together with copies of all the reviewers’ reports. I don’t believe this would be a breach of confidentiality since the reviewer is already privy to the submitted manuscript and all the material sent to the authors is anonymous. The extra work for editorial offices to introduce this process would be minuscule.

The advantages of such a practice are that reviewers are provided with feedback on their efforts, which would lead to more uniform standards of review (from personal experience, these can vary widely); issues missed are illustrated; and the standards and consistency of reviews are improved by means of the learning process involved. This would particularly benefit novice reviewers.

I have made this request to a number of editors, with little or even no response. I suggest that reviewers, who provide their services voluntarily, make concerted requests for this information.

Leslie Glasser
Perth, Western Australia


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