Peer Review Week 2021 at Editage: Reflections, learnings, and insights

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Peer Review Week 2021 at Editage: Reflections, learnings, and insights

Every year, the Editage Insights team looks forward to Peer Review Week in pleasant anticipation. This is one of the industry events that tends to bring out the best versions of ourselves as thinkers, learners, listeners, team players, and, well, event planners. And why not? Peer review is a subject that both deserves and draws this depth of effort and attention.

Peer Review Week 2021 was no different, but initially, it appeared to pose a unique challenge. This year’s theme was “Identity in Peer Review.” As we began to do the groundwork in preparation for the event, we found ourselves wondering “How can we do justice to a theme that simultaneously appears amorphous yet multidimensional, as well as eliciting a strong emotional connect?”

A few nervous but exhilarating discussions later, we felt a lot more inspired and confident and chalked up a plan we were quite happy with. We eventually had 4,500 researchers from around the world signing up for the event. Now that the buzz is over and we look back, we realize what incredible moments of learning, insight, and engagement we had this year and share an overview here with you.

Multiple angles

Each of the five days of Peer Review Week 2021 was dedicated to exploring a specific angle of identity in peer review: fostering diversity, practicing empathy, building one’s identity as a peer reviewer, becoming inclusive, and appreciating the value and influence of identity in peer review.

A combination of different formats

In addition to writing original blog posts, we published interviews with industry experts, created special educational handbooks as giveaways, and organized a webinar for each day of the week.

Diverse perspectives

What researchers most look forward to during such events is insights from and interaction with experts in the field, and with the theme being a complex, critical, and interesting one, we wanted to maintain a healthy balance of diverse perspectives. Our activities featured 10 guest speakers and over 15 guest contributors—from different regions and different segments of academia and scholarly publishing.

Below is an overview what we covered in our webinars and posts:


1. Exploring identities in peer review: A look at author, reviewer, and journal perspectives

Date: Sep 20, 2021

This event had a panel comprising Dr. Michael Willis, Researcher Advocate, Wiley; Dr. Rajyashree Sundaram, Staff Research Scientist, AIST, Japan; and Dr. Yufita Chinta, Researcher, Hokkaido University, Japan. These experts discussed personal experiences with peer review and shared insights on how diversity can be fostered by authors, reviewers, as well as journal publishers.

2. Author and reviewer experiences: Building a bridge of empathy

Date: Sep 21, 2021

A very well-received webinar, it focused on how peer reviewer comments can affect authors and how both authors reviewers can get most out of their peer review experiences if they practiced more empathy toward each other. This session was conducted by Dr. Erin Owens, Professor, Access Services Coordinator & Scholarly Communications Librarian, Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University, Texas.

3. Behind the scenes - How a peer reviewer reviews a manuscript

Date: Sep 22, 2021

Both early career authors and aspiring peer reviewers are typically curious about how peer reviewers go about their reviews. This panel discussion featured Dr. Jo Roislien, Professor of Medical Statistics at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stavanger; and Dr. Stefano Colafranceschi, Assistant Professor at Eastern Mennonite University. They discussed the typical approach they follow when accepting and performing peer reviews and also shared insights into how researchers can build their identity as peer reviewers and whether identity may influence the way peer reviewers review.

4. Should early career researchers be appointed as peer reviewers?

Date: Sep 23, 2021

Early career researchers are a potentially valuable pool of peer reviewers but may not always get the opportunities or training they deserve. To share views on how they can contribute to peer review and improve the standards of research, we had two panelists: Dr. Dr. Thomas Agbaedeng, Postdoctoral research fellow at Adelaide Medical School, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide; and Dr. Asli Telli, Research Fellow at Universität Siegen.

5. Does WHO you are influence HOW you conduct peer review?

Date: Sep 24, 2021

In one of the most though-provoking webinars, we discussed the need to become aware of the influence of identity in peer review, embrace it, and bring it to the fore to make peer review a more empathetic, inclusive, and equitable. The guest speakers for this session were Lou Peck, Published author, Chair of CILIP Cymru Wales Committee and ALPSP Membership and Marketing Committee, and CEO of The International Bunch; and Dr. Aileen Fyfe, Professor of Modern History at University of St. Andrews.

Blog posts

In our posts too, we explored the theme of identity in peer review from different angles. We invited researchers to share their views on why diversity in peer review is important for science and focused on the role of regional diversity.

We provided some practical tips on how to deal with harsh peer review comments.

Some researchers shared with us their views on whether an author’s identity influences perceptions about their work, an important discussion point in many conversations about maintaining objectivity in peer review.

In two separate interviews, Pippa Smart, Editor-in-Chief of Learned Publishing, and Charlie Kelner, Research Engagement Manager at Hindawi, discussed on how publishers and journals can make scholarly publishing more diverse, inclusive, and equitable.

ScienceTalks with the Peer Review Week theme in China

In addition to the webinars, we organized a live peer review–related Q&A session specifically for Chinese researchers. This session was hosted on ScienceTalks, a CACTUS-powered platform for meaningful and productive conversations between research stakeholders. A total of 388 questions were asked by registered members/visitors and 256 responses were shared by the panelists.

What all of this has meant to us

As articulated by Sneha Kulkarni (Editor-in-Chief, Editage Insights, and member of the Peer Review Week 2021 steering committee) in a Scholarly Kitchen post, “Accepting the uniqueness each of us bring to scholarly communication will provide opportunities to look at the same concept from different vantage points. Maybe we’ll disagree with some views and agree with others, but we will look in a direction someone else is pointing to. Identity in peer review, thus, is bravely inviting and celebrating diverse voices, viewpoints, and thought processes and ultimately enriching our own identity.”

This was our overarching goal for Peer Review Week 2021, and organizing all of the activities and events for researchers has been an extremely meaningful and rewarding experience for all of us at Editage Insights. Our interactions with each of the wonderful and brilliant experts featured, even outside of the events, gave us much food for thought and were fun! But some of the most heartwarming moments came after the events were complete, when we received comments and feedback from our readers and webinar attendees. Many of the sessions and the topics covered had clearly struck a chord with them and they told us how:

The speakers were amazing and informative. I learned a lot about peer review process and how I can manage my emotions in case I get decline feedback from editors.

Yeluma Mary Ntali


The level of interaction between the participants and the organizers is spectacular, which make it like almost like a presential meeting.

Hamza Benthami


After graduation, I was feeling demotivated regarding my skills and knowledge, mostly because there were lacking because of COVID-19. This webinar is encouraging and motivating me to improve my craft as a student and keep practicing no matter what. Also, I am loving how the speakers have this mutual respect towards each other while one is speaking.

Nuzhat Faizah


The discussion is an eye-opener, I guess, for many senior researchers... or may be a reminder that there is a need for them to pass on the skill to the junior researchers... to mentor them on how to conduct peer review. On the other hand, the discussion also presents the challenge to ECRs to prepare themselves to enter peer reviewing by learning from the senior researchers and by reading a lot.

Paulina A. Bawingan


The topic is quite apt. All rounded thoughts were provided by the panelists, the moderator and many questions that were answered. The way forward is truly inclusivity, considering that all relevant stakeholders have different values to bring on board to enrich the process and outcome.

–Farida Bello


Finally, don’t worry if you missed any of these activities during this Peer Review Week. We welcome you to browse through the recordings and posts (the links to all are included in this post). These discussions are too important and valuable to be restricted to just a week in the year. We hope that they help in driving positive changes related to peer review and scholarly publishing in general.

Until next year then, stay empathetic, embrace your identity, and keep initiating your own conversations on the topics covered this year.

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Published on: Oct 19, 2021


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