Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been refreshed for Peer Review Week 2017.
A previous article discussed how recurring incidents of peer review rigging in the recent years are posing a significant challenge for the scientific publishing system. Journal editors are striving to find ways to prevent their peer review process from manipulation.
A major impediment in the resolution of this issue is the lack of any commonly accepted guidelines. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) suggests editors to check reviewers’ names, addresses and e-mail contacts thoroughly, and to never use only author-nominated reviewers. However, in the absence of specific practices regarding the use of author-nominated reviewers, journals vary in their practices of ensuring a fair and proper peer review. Many experts, such as Liz Wager who authored the research article Are reviewers suggested by authors as good as those chosen by editors? Results of a rater-blinded, retrospective study, believe that journal editors can play a decisive role in preventing peer review rigging. Apart from checking for conflicts of interest, editors should conduct an independent, thorough research of peer reviewers—irrespective of whether they have been suggested by authors—to ensure their authenticity and credibility before sending review requests.