The Utility of Peer Review

The utility of a peer review for your research paper can only be gauged after you obtain a sound understanding of what editors look for in research articles. First, they look for originality. In other words, the study should provide some new data or lead to groundbreaking evidence regarding a contentious area. It could also extend earlier findings or confirm results by considering a larger sample size.

Second, the editors evaluate whether the conclusions drawn could impact current practice. Third, the research should present a hypothesis founded on sound methodology. It should also include a comprehensive statistical analysis and be clear about its objective.

The paper goes for a peer review only after the editors assess these qualities and ask the author to resubmit with requisite changes. Thereafter, the peer reviewers and the editors submit their feedback to the author. Their response comes in the form of a letter informing the author that his/her submission has either been rejected or a revised version needs to be submitted after addressing the comments of the peer reviewer. At this juncture, the author needs to consider the comments and decide whether to modify the paper for the same journal, or submit it to another journal.

Prior to that decision, the author needs to dispel any thought from the mind that the comments of the peer reviewer are wrong or misplaced vis-à-vis the research findings. Conversely, it is important to absorb the criticism as constructive and not as a personal attack by any stretch of imagination. The comments have only one purpose: to improve the article and detect errors.

In case you opt to revise the paper, it is important to address the peer reviewer’s comments by highlighting the revised portions in the modified paper. It is also useful to submit a separate sheet listing each comment and response. In fact, the crux of a good interaction with the peer reviewer and the editors is a lucid explanation what you have done and what you have not done. Rather than accepting all comments in toto, you need to respond to the comments upon their merit. However, politeness must be maintained in all your responses.

It is critical to be aware of what exactly editors look for in a research paper: they want articles that will appeal to the target audience, so much as to prompt them to cite the work in future researches. To achieve this constructive interaction with the peer reviewer and the editors, you need to be pragmatic about journal selection and ask yourself the question: Does the paper deserve publication in the numero uno journal in the field?

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