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Letter to the Editor
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Available online 22 March 2024
Some thoughts on peer review. Authors reply
Algunas reflexiones sobre la revisión por pares. Respuesta de los autores
Cristina Candal-Pedreiraa,b,c, Alberto Ruano-Ravinaa,b,c,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Mónica Pérez-Ríosa,b,c, Julia Rey-Brandariza
a Área de Medicina Preventiva y Salud Pública, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
b CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública, Madrid, Spain
c Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago de Compostela (IDIS), Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
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Received 31 January 2024
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Dear Editor:

We would like to start by remarking that any debate, as long as it is respectful, is enriching, especially on a subject suitable for it as is the review of scientific articles. Thus, we will proceed to share our perspective regarding some of the aspects mentioned in the letter1 sent in response to our article, “Challenges in peer review: How to guarantee the quality and transparency of the editorial process in scientific journals”.2

We do not think that there is any confusion regarding the duties of the editorial director and the editors of a scientific journal, although we ought to highlight that the responsibilities of each of these roles may vary depending on the journal. In general, editors are the ones that make decisions regarding peer review and recommendations regarding the publication of submitted manuscripts. The editor-in-chief usually supports the editors’ decisions and does not change their recommendations, as one of the cornerstones in the functioning of the editorial system is the trust of the editor-in-chief in every member of the editorial team, so that changing their decisions would make little sense. Although there may be exceptions, this is the general rule. The Council of Science Editors,3 in fact, establishes that editors are responsible for making editorial decisions. It is worth noting that the profile of editors is diverse and we recognise that in some of the most prestigious journals editors are exclusively dedicated to the journal, but they receive financial remuneration for their work. However, this is not a common situation, as editors in most journals need to balance their editorial responsibilities with their clinical, academic or research work.

The issue of peer review is also very complex. On one hand, it is difficult to have peers accept articles to review (reaching out to 10 reviewers to have only one or two accept is a common occurrence). To our knowledge, there is no research on the time elapsed from the moment that peers are invited to review an article and the time they confirm their participation, or the time elapsed until reviewers submit their feedback. In our opinion, and based on our editorial experience, the time devoted to the search of reviewers and their acceptance may exceed the time devoted to the review itself.

On the other hand, the need for trained reviewers is also widely acknowledged.4,5 In a survey of reviewers, 68% stated that formal training could be helpful for peer review.6 However, previous studies have concluded that training and mentorship in peer review do not seem to be effective,7 which may be due to how this training is delivered. We agree that there are numerous courses on how to perform peer reviews, although they are not required for engaging in the task, so the decision to get training rests on the reviewer. Thus, it is our belief that new initiatives must be undertaken in this field, such as a reviewer academy. It should be noted that this idea is not completely new, for in Spain, for instance, the journal Gaceta Sanitaria implemented something of the kind for years.8 The creation of a “pool” of reviewers trained in a journal or publishing house is one possible option. On the other hand, we agree that some journals facilitate the peer review process more than others. Therefore, we think that establishing a common template for the review of scientific content shared across journals would facilitate the task of reviewers, a strategy we proposed recently.9

As for the remuneration of peer reviewers, delving into the subject exceeded the scope and allotted length of our manuscript, although it is debated in multiple forums. One of the suggested forms of remuneration is offering discounts in article processing charges to authors that have played a significant role as reviewers in the journal, and direct payment by the journal to the reviewer has also been proposed.5 Although the latter option is controversial,5,10 it is clear that reviewers should be compensated for their work, although there seems to be no consensus as to the optimal way to do it.

Dal-Ré R. Revisión por pares: consideraciones a las propuestas de Candal-Pedreira y colaboradores.
C. Candal-Pedreira, J. Rey-Brandariz, L. Varela-Lema, M. Pérez-Ríos, A. Ruano-Ravina.
Los desafíos de la revisión por pares: cómo garantizar la calidad y transparencia del proceso editorial de las revistas científicas.
An Pediatría., 99 (2023), pp. 54-59
Council of Science Editors. Editor Roles and Responsibilities: Council of Science Editors; [Available from:
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Why training and specialization is needed for peer review: a case study of peer review for randomized controlled trials.
E. Barroga.
Innovative strategies for peer review.
J Korean Med Sci., 35 (2020), pp. e138
A. Mulligan, L. Hall, E. Raphael.
Peer review in a changing world: an international study measuring the attitudes of researchers.
J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol., 64 (2012), pp. 132-161
D. Houry, S. Green, M. Callaham.
Does mentoring new peer reviewers improve review quality? A randomized trial.
BMC Med Educ., 12 (2012), pp. 83
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Gaceta Sanitaria en 2020. Respuesta editorial a la sindemia e implementación de nuevas normas.
Gac Sanit., 35 (2021), pp. 109-112
A. Ruano-Ravina, M. Perez-Rios, J. Rey-Brandariz, C. Candal-Pedreira.
Is it time for a common peer review format for biomedical journals?.
J Clin Epidemiol., 155 (2023), pp. 129-130
P.Y. Cheah, J. Piasecki.
Should peer reviewers be paid to review academic papers?.
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