The process of Peer Review and reviewers play a central role in helping to validate research, establish methods by which it can be evaluated, and increase networking possibilities among researchers (Elsevier, 2016). There are many types of Peer Review, with the single blind review method being the most traditional and common method used for publication purposes.
USQ Statement on Peer Review
USQ recognises the importance of peer review and is committed to encouraging and supporting USQ Research Workers to participate in the process. That encouragement extends to participation as an expert or generalist reviewer both within the University and to Australian and international peer review processes. USQ expects USQ Research Workers to engage with the process by having their work peer reviewed. This includes ensuring that all applications submitted for research ethics approval, funding and publication to have undergone a peer review process prior to submission.
Peer review takes on many forms but, requires both experts in areas of research and generalist readers (in associated or more generalised fields of research) to provide clear, unbiased, timely and considered review of material submitted for publication, grants, promotion and other forms of public release. Normally a peer review process requires at least three reviewers. Peer reviewers are often asked to comment on the academic quality, relevance, coherence and financial viability of applications and/or be able to rank the review material against selection criteria.
USQ recognises that one important aspect of peer review is the discovery of apparent deviations from the principles of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018). Examples include double publication, incorrect and misleading statements, fabrication, plagiarism and fraud. Where a potential breach of the Research Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research is raised it is handled in accordance with the Research Code of Conduct: Management of Potential Breaches Procedure.
Responsibilities of USQ Research Workers
USQ encourages all USQ Research Workers to participate in, and support, the peer review process. In doing so, those who agree to act as peer reviews must:
- Be fair and timely in their review;
- Act in confidence and not disclose the content or outcome of any process (to those other than the author/s) in which they are involved;
- Ensure they are informed about, and comply with the relevant criteria;
- Declare all conflicts of interest, including perceived conflicts of interest, which may influence the peer review process;
- Give proper consideration to research that challenges or changes accepted ways or thinking;
- Not take undue or calculated advantage of knowledge obtained during the process; and
- Be aware of their obligations under various grant Funding Agreements as to the requirement to undertake peer review when requested by Funding Body (for example, NHMRC, ARC).
Taking into consideration the field of research and the number of recognised experts within the field, reviews should not agree to participate in specialist peer review outside their area or level of expertise. In instances where this does occur, USQ Research Workers should declare their limitations. When asked to participate as a generalist reader, USQ Research Workers should be aware that they need a general level of awareness and understanding of the field involved.
USQ encourages researchers supervising research students to assist their students (as an essential part of research training) in developing the skills and responsibilities involved in peer reviewing and appreciate their obligation to participate in this scholarly activity.
Record of Peer Review
Research workers have a responsibility to engage with the Peer Review process at the University, and particularly prior to the submission of applications for funding, ethical review, and publication.
Research workers are encouraged to use the USQ Peer Review Checklist (DOC 199KB) and submit a copy as requested. A copy should also be retained for their own record. The record of Peer Review engagement may also be informally captured through email or letters.
The use of this checklist will ensures that your record of Peer Review includes:
- anticipated title of the research project
- acknowledgement of the anticipated benefits and risks of the research and whether these have been addressed
- the research questions and/or hypotheses are appropriate
- the research design and methods are appropriate to achieve the research aims
- the research team and supervisors are appropriate qualified, competent and experienced.