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[ RESEARCH INTEGRITY ] December 7, 2022

Recent changes in the peer review process

Peer review is a cornerstone of scientific publishing. So why does it look much the same as it did hundreds of years ago? Did those early scholars get the peer review process perfect on the first try?

The unshakeable foundation of scholarly communication

Evaluating the validity and quality of research is absolutely essential for the trust and overall integrity of scientific research. Many aspects of peer review give it the rigor and effectiveness it needs to ensure that the best research is published. Double-blind peer reviews (in which the identity of authors and reviewers are hidden) aren’t effective enough at eliminating bias. And while being a peer reviewer may have some career benefits, it is time-consuming and largely not recognized or rewarded.


Scaling peer review for today's world

The peer review process is coming under increased pressure. As the pressure to publish has become more and more global, research output has increased between 4% and 5% for the past decade. Peer review struggles to keep up with the demand, slowing down the process and stressing an already challenged part of the scientific enterprise. 

At the same time, research integrity has never been more critical. Predatory journals and conferences are on the rise. Public trust in science is at risk in regions around the world. 

It's clear the system needs to change. The question is: how?


Attempts to evolve peer review

The peer review workflow may seem simple enough, but it is cumbersome and time-consuming for researchers who are already stretched thin with other administrative, teaching, and research duties.


Transparent processes

In a transparent peer review process, the identities of authors and reviewers are all known. The process is not hidden or anonymized. 

Confidence in peer review is under threat, and all the double-blind processes in the world are not having an impact on bias in peer review. Transparency equals accountability. This type of peer review is growing in popularity, in parallel with calls for openness elsewhere in the research publishing process.


Reward and recognition

Often, the motivations for being a peer reviewer are altruistic. But to encourage a new generation of peer reviewers, we need to make it worth their while. 

Many of the major publishers have recently begun exploring certificate programs, creating a system for reviewers to earn credit and gain recognition for their work, and integrating through Web of Science to collect that recognition across journals and publishers. But there are other programs that call for reviewers to get paid

A universal form of recognition is still pending, and the feelings of resentment for being overworked and undervalued are very real. Improvements to the process that make it easier, and advocacy for this process that demonstrates its impact and importance, will also improve morale.


AI and machine learning

We’ve hardly talked about technology so far, and that’s because peer review is a human process. The technology that enables it is often manual, cumbersome, and prone to errors or delays. 

Is it the best we can do? The human element of peer review will always be at the heart of the process, but can AI supercharge it? Technology has the ability to scan for plagiarism, citation manipulation, salami slicing, and so much more at a scale that humans can’t. Building the infrastructure to support integrity checks at the earliest point in the peer review process will save time, allowing peer reviewers and editorial teams to be more efficient and focus on evaluating research at higher levels.



Peer review workflows are central to the scientific process, but they need to be modernized. Workflows should be more efficient, comprehensive, and take advantage of all technology has to offer. 

Furthermore, there are segments of the research lifecycle that aren’t held to the same rigorous peer review as journal articles: conferences and conference proceedings. Imagine the power of your publishing program if you had integrated peer review workflows from the earliest stages of scientists sharing their work. That’s where Morressier’s workflows come in. We believe in a holistic approach to peer review, combined with a deep respect for reviewers that drives us to make the process as smooth as possible. Visit our Peer Review Workflows page to learn more.

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