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Nascer e Crescer

versão impressa ISSN 0872-0754versão On-line ISSN 2183-9417

Nascer e Crescer vol.28 no.1 Porto mar. 2019 


The importance of peer review

A importância da revisão por pares

Sílvia ÁlvaresI, II

I Editor-in-Chief of Nascer e Crescer - Birth and Growth Medical Journal; Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Centro Materno-Infantil do Norte, Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto. 4099-001 Porto, Portugal

II Clinical & Experimental Human Genomics, Unit for Multidisciplinary Research in Biomedicine, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar. 4050-313 Porto, Portugal


Peer review can be defined as “a process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field”.1 It is an essential component of the scientific process and medical publishing. Reviewers have two pivotal roles in the editorial process: to assess, with their expert judgement, if a submitted paper is suitable for publication and to provide constructive feedback to authors about how to improve the quality of the manuscript. Peer review represents a hard and demanding task: the reviewer must assess the manuscript, the validity of the research and methodology, the accuracy of the results, and the respect for ethics, and to (i) suggest alterations when appropriate, (ii) reject, or (iii) accept the manuscript without changes. It is also a lengthy process and time consuming job: the estimated time for reviewing a manuscript may take around eight hours (median - 2.7 hours)1-3.

Reviewers are volunteers and normally receive no payment. So what are the incentives for this time-consuming assignment? Motivations to peer review include spontaneous satisfaction from the activity itself, a sense of obligation to the community and their own area of research, personal contacts with the editorial board, and the opportunity to assess up-to-dated information about research advances. Financial incentives are still a matter of debate and controversy. Selecting reviewers is a crucial role for editors and also a difficult one. To ensure the review of a manuscript peer-review, invitations often have to be addressed to ten or more qualified potential reviewers.1-4

The peer review process has been subjected to criticism, such as delays in the publication cycle and peer review bias (Table 1).4-6 Despite its limitations and controversies, it is widely accepted and supported by the scientific community. Academics agree that peer review contributes to the quality of the submitted paper. Peer review is still considered essential in scientific and scholarly literature.7-9



Birth and Growth Medical Journal adopted the double-blind review mode (Table 2) assume the more effective way to ensure an impartial reviewer assessment and decision.



Peer review is not a perfect process and needs improvement. Referees are not infallible, work under time constraints, and sometimes are not the most suitable experts for the topic under review. But in general, the vast majority of peer-review processes does contribute to que quality of published articles. A good peer review should follow some basic principles: content integrity, content ethics, fairness, usefulness, and timeliness.10-11 The increasing focus on scientific research and publishing leads to a growing demand of reviewers who continue to have a fundamental role in the scientific community but are barely visible.12

The strategies and interventions to improve peer review and to reward referees are currently still a matter of debate and research. Some journals have implemented structured guidelines, courses for referees, statistical services and advice, and created incentives and rewards, but more effective measures to address this issue need to be pursued.13-14

The Birth and Growth Medical Journal expresses our gratitude and appreciation to all reviewers for sharing their time, knowledge, and expertise to ensure the high quality of the journal and their contribution to the scientific discourse.



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11. Allen H, Cury A, Gaston T , Graf C, Wakley H, Willis M. What does better peer review look like? Underlying principles and recommendations for better practice. Learned Publishing.2019.         [ Links ]

12. Jackson L, Peters MA, Benade L, Devine N, Arndt S, Forster D, et al. Is peer review in academic publishing still working? Open Review of Educational Research 2018; 5:95-112.         [ Links ]

13. Stahel P, Moore EE. Peer review for biomedical publications: we can improve the system. BMC Medicine. 2014; 12:179-82.         [ Links ]

14. Patel J. Why training and specialization is needed for peer review: a case study of peer review for randomized controlled trials. BMC Med. 2014; 12:128.         [ Links ]

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