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Injecting youth into peer-review to increase its sustainability: a case study of ecology journals


Donaldson, MR and Hasler, CT and Hanson, KC and Clark, TD and Hinch, SG and Cooke, SJ, Injecting youth into peer-review to increase its sustainability: a case study of ecology journals, Ideas in Ecology and Evolution, 3 pp. 1-7. ISSN 1918-3178 (2010) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.4033/iee.2010.3.1.c


The ‘tragedy of the reviewer commons’, where the referee pool is being drained by an influx of manuscript submissions, is becoming an increasing problem for journals. To mitigate this growing concern, we suggest that there is a need to inject youth into the peer-review process. Graduate students, post-docs, and junior researchers are an important, yet often underutilized resource, for the peer-review process. A survey of leading ecology journals revealed that editors are generally receptive to increasing the involvement of junior referees in the peer-review process. Through 45 responses to the survey, no journal had specific policies regarding junior referees or maintained databases specifically identifying junior reviewers, and only 34% of respondents actively solicited junior referees. Despite this level of utilization, editors generally feel that junior referees have expertise in specific subject areas, are keen to review, and are willing to make time to provide a high-quality review, particularly when aided by their supervisors. Editors were significantly more likely to select junior referees with higher levels of education and experience (e.g., 90% of respondents were highly likely to select a post-doctoral researcher to conduct a review), although editors were willing to consider graduate students as well. Integrating and expanding on these survey results, we argue that injecting youth into peer review benefits the process and provides invaluable experience and insight to junior scholars, all while helping to mitigate the problem of the tragedy of the reviewer commons.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal behaviour
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Clark, TD (Dr Timothy Clark)
ID Code:103412
Year Published:2010
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-10-08
Last Modified:2015-10-08

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