How to write clear, helpful, and empathetic peer review comments
Peer reviewers shoulder responsibility toward their discipline, journal editors, and the authors whose manuscripts they review. Individuals assigned as peer reviewers for a certain manuscript tend to be knowledgeable in the area of work the manuscript covers, passionate about the advancement of knowledge, and eager to give back to the academic community through reviews. Most aim to provide honest and comprehensive feedback on the quality of the work. However, they may often find this challenging, or sometimes in their eagerness to be critical, they may not realize it if their comments are harsh and demotivating.
Performing a peer review may feel like walking on a tightrope. You’re always trying to strike a balance between being honest and meticulous while staying kind. It’s essential to master this art to be an effective peer reviewer.
This video is a good starting point if you’d like to understand how to achieve this balance. It contains excerpts from the webinars “Exploring identities in peer review: A look at author, reviewer, and journal perspectives” and “Author and reviewer experiences: Building a bridge of empathy,” which were organized by Editage during Peer Review Week 2021.
In this video, Dr. Rajyashree Sundaram, Staff Research Scientist, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan, Dr. Yufita D. Chinta Environmental Science Researcher, Hokkaido University, Japan; and Erin Owens, Professor, Access Services Coordinator & Scholarly Communications Librarian, Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University, Texas, share their experiences of coming across comments, as authors, that were vague and generic, and how their experiences as authors shaped the way they conduct peer reviews themselves. They’ve also described some of their best peer review practices, and how they adopted an empathy-based approach toward peer reviewing.
You can watch the full recordings of these webinars by clicking on these links: Exploring identities in peer review: A look at author, reviewer, and journal perspectives and Author and reviewer experiences: Building a bridge of empathy.
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