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Data from: Imbalance in individual researcher’s peer review activities quantified for four British Ecological Society Journals, 2003-2010

Citation

Petchey, Owen L.; Fox, Jeremy W.; Haddon, Lindsay (2015), Data from: Imbalance in individual researcher’s peer review activities quantified for four British Ecological Society Journals, 2003-2010, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.36r69

Abstract

Researchers contribute to the scientific peer review system by providing reviews, and “withdraw” from it by submitting manuscripts that are subsequently reviewed. So far as we are aware, there has been no quantification of the balance of individual's contributions and withdrawals. We compared the number of reviews provided by individual researchers (i.e., their contribution) to the number required by their submissions (i.e. their withdrawals) in a large and anonymised database provided by the British Ecological Society. The database covered the Journal of Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, and Functional Ecology from 2003–2010. The majority of researchers (64%) did not have balanced contributions and withdrawals. Depending on assumptions, 12% to 44% contributed more than twice as much as required; 20% to 52% contributed less than half as much as required. Balance, or lack thereof, varied little in relation to the number of years a researcher had been active (reviewing or submitting). Researchers who contributed less than required did not lack the opportunity to review. Researchers who submitted more were more likely to accept invitations to review. These finding suggest overall that peer review of the four analysed journals is not in crisis, but only due to the favourable balance of over- and under-contributing researchers. These findings are limited to the four journals analysed, and therefore cannot include researcher's other peer review activities, which if included might change the proportions reported. Relatively low effort was required to assemble, check, and analyse the data. Broader analyses of individual researcher's peer review activities would contribute to greater quality, efficiency, and fairness in the peer review system.

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