An Open Letter: Seeking institutional committment to measure all contributions to research

In November 2016, a consortium of researchers and publishers approached Publons to advocate for the inclusion of standard measures of peer review contributions across institutions.

This open letter sets out the rationale for the adoption of standard and accurate measures of peer review activity, as well as the best practices for incorporating and reporting on peer review contribtions.

The signatories goals are to:

  • encourage institutions to adopt standard measures of peer review activity to ensure the full gambit of researchers' contributions to the research environment are adequately recognised
  • ensure appropriate incentives are in place for researchers to undertake the critical task peer review
  • continue to enrich and safeguard the quality and integrity of research through peer review.

Why adopt standard peer review measures across institutions?

Peer review is the fundamental mechanism ensuring the quality and integrity of published research.1 The academic community collectively undertakes 30 million hours of peer review every year. At present there is no standardised measure of, or weighting given to, researchers’ peer review contributions across institutions. As a result:

  • the full extent of researchers' contributions to their field are unknown.
  • the full extent of Institutions' contributions to science and research are unknown.
  • researchers are less likely to review as their efforts go unnoticed. This causes the rate at which peer reviewed research can be published and tallied against both researchers' and institutions' outputs to slow.

Institutions are in a unique position to ensure peer review outputs are formally acknowledged as a valid research-related output while also benefiting. Increasingly, government reporting criteria and institutional world ranking methodologies require more evidence of research-related outputs and engagement in the research community. By committing to standardised measures of peer review activity, institutions will equip themselves with additional evidence of their own standing as a pillar of research excellence.

Additionally, researchers want their institutions to better acknowledge peer review contributions. In a Wiley survey conducted in 2015, 70% of U.S-based reviewers agreed that "reviewing is not sufficiently acknowledged as avaluable research activity by research assessment bodies / my institution"2

Best practice guidelines for adopting standard peer review reporting tools and metrics

[To come]

Signatories

We, the following researchers, starting in 2016 request that research institutions adopt standard measures for tracking and reporting on all peer review activities. We encourage others to join us in this initiative and are optimistic our action will inspire the community to begin formally recognising peer review activity as the critically important research-related output that it is. Our goal of rewarding researchers for all of the work they do to enrich and safeguard science and research.

1 PRC Survey 2016
2 Wiley Peer Review Survey 2015

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