It could go without saying that peer review is central to quality at Cambridge University Press, given that it has been a tool for providing valuable feedback to authors, improving the quality, and validating results for many years at the Press. But it is exactly that centrality and enduring value that makes it even more important for us to speak often about how we support our Editors and Editorial Boards in maintaining a high level of quality in in their decision-making and adapt to today’s peer review needs.

Over the past year, we have made a sustained effort to provide more guidance for peer reviewers and authors on the process, publicly and transparently, in order to open the doors wider to a diverse group of reviewers. From supporting early career researchers in peer review training, to working with groups like Sense About Science and Publons, to kicking off new pilots around peer review, we are actively working towards improving diversity in our review pool.

What has that looked like? Here are a few examples:

  • Launch of a Reviewer Hub

We’re opening up some of our internal peer review resources through a new Reviewer Hub launching this week. With information on how to review articles and book proposals, ethics in peer review, and guidance on using Publons, we’re hoping to make peer review more accessible.

  • Open peer review pilots & post-publication annotation

We are developing a pilot (to be launched in January 2019) of the publication of peer review reports alongside accepted articles on a small group of journals. The benefits are already clear, including both transparency in editorial decision-making and some evidence for better-quality reports. We will use our pilot to gain further understanding of these benefits—and any challenges—as perceived by authors, editors and peer reviewers, as well as to identify workflow changes and support materials needed.

We are also expanding the use of Hypothesis beyond our initial pilot on Annotation for Transparent Inquiry. Both a public layer of annotation and a dedicated annotation layer for our authors will be available on select journals, books and Elements, and can be used for post-publication commenting in order to keep the research up-to-date and exchange ideas between the author and readers.

  • Reviewer recognition

We now have 20 journals fully integrated with Publons, which has the benefit of providing a simple way to help reviewers track, verify and showcase their peer review activities. Publons enables us to show to our journal’s reviewers that we appreciate them and want them to be credited for their valuable contributions, as well as allowing our editorial teams and societies to find out more information regarding the reviewers being used for a particular journal.

  • Transparency in peer review

We want our authors, reviewers, and readers to be able to see and understand what our journals’ peer review processes and policies. We’ve been working our way through an audit of the information we provide on each journal website and making improvements as we go. As members of COPE, we also follow the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing,

Our authors, peer reviewers, and publishing partners engage us continually with productive—and provocative—conversations, challenging orthodoxies around what constitutes good peer review. We will remain vigilant to see that the best qualities of peer review endure while embracing evolving opportunities to increase transparency, diversity and recognition in peer review.

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