Peer review – What is it and how to ensure you pass it

Peer review is the process of ensuring that bad ideas don’t pass for knowledge! This is the simplest way to think of this process, which is universally recognized as the litmus test for academic quality.

But the question some may have is : How does it work and why should I publish in a peer-reviewed journal?

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photo credit : cccpa.com

The answer to this is rather simple : For getting recognition as a ‘scholar’ in a field, other scholars working in your field must recognize that your contribution or work is original, or even if it is a synthesis of earlier work and not entirely original; that it makes a valuable contribution to the field of your research.

For this process, scholars put each other to test through this peer-review process. consider it as a sort of  quality control for your work.

There are several kinds of peer -review. There is a blind review, where the editors or reviewers don’t know the identity of the author and there is double-blind review, which is a slightly more rigorous, in that two reviewers look over your material before it is approved or rejected.

There are two theories for the origin of the peer-review model. The first credits it to the Royal Society of London’s processes put together in the 18th century. The second theory credits it to Arab physicians of the 16th century, who perfected this method before trying out new techniques of treatment.

Regardless of the origins, the peer-review is universally accepted as a standard procedure and a marker of quality of information.

So, the natural question is : How do you ensure your work passes peer-review? There are a few things, as you proceed along this path. Here are some initial thoughts as you formulate your strategy to become a published scholar :

  • Read peer-reviewed journals – Infact, subscribe to one/ two, in your discipline to understand the conventions used, the language and style that is preferred
  • Pay attention to how long publication process takes – read the instruction for authors, included in most journals or their websites
  • Volunteer to be a peer-reviewer – This is a great way for you to learn the nuances of peer-review. Being a reviewer gives you the background to be a good writer.
  • Write for and submit to a  peer-reviewed journal – Logically, this should be the first big step you take, from the time of thinking of publishing to actually going out and offering your work for critique.

Don’t be afraid of rejection.

The worst that could happen is that the reviewers may reject your work, but on the positive side; they will offer helpful feedback that will help you fine-tune your work and submit it elsewhere.

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