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Most researchers are satisfied with peer review, survey says

Many chemists say quality checks are needed for supporting materials

by Dalmeet Singh Chawla
September 27, 2019

Three in four researchers are satisfied with science’s quality control system, according to a new survey of more than 3,000 academics.

The survey results were released on Sept. 16 by Sense about Science, an advocacy group that promotes public understanding of science, and Elsevier. They largely echo the findings of a similar survey from a decade ago. The 2009 survey found that 69% of more than 4,000 reviewers were satisfied with the reviewing process. That number has now gone up to 75%, according to the new survey, which itself has yet to be peer reviewed.

Most respondents, 90%, thought peer review improves the overall quality of research. But 37% said they had doubts over the quality of at least some research they encountered in the week before they took the survey.

Data and supplementary material accompanying papers should also go through peer review, thought 76% of respondents. That feeling was strongest among chemists, with 90% saying quality checks on these supporting materials is necessary.

Citations were the indicator that 88% of respondents find most useful when assessing scholarly work. When asked about a metric that would indicate whether someone has tried to reproduce the work and if they succeeded, 82% of respondents supported the idea, with 90% of chemists saying it would be helpful.

On average, 45% of researchers said employers should recognize the time they spend reviewing. UK-based scientists said this should be the case the most often at 72%. Researchers in the US and Canada are second in agreement at 62% each.

Only 38% of respondents thought the public understands the concept of peer review well.

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