Published on: 22nd February 2018
A guest article by Sharon Hindley, International Journal of Population Data Science (IJPDS)
The International Journal of Population Data Science (IJPDS) is unique in bringing together all aspects of Population Data Science (PDS) in one place. From new technology to big data, information governance to public engagement, IJPDS is the open access publication for authors working with data pertaining to people and populations.
IJPDS places great importance on the content of the manuscripts, the impact of a study and the level of research when considering an author’s work for publication. With quality at the heart of what we do, our international peer review panel is essential in ensuring we maintain consistently high standards of published manuscripts through our rigorous double-blind review process.
In 2017, IJPDS received an overwhelming response to both the general and special issue calls for manuscripts. As a result, we need to increase the size and complexity of our review panel. IJPDS would like to extend an invitation to members of The Farr Institute to join our team of volunteers.
Population Data Science spans numerous fields and whilst we welcome anyone working within PDS to join, we have particular interest in recruiting experts in the following areas:
Peer reviewing can be very rewarding bringing numerous benefits and a great way to enhance one’s career. Experts that review on a regular basis can gain recognition as leading experts in their field, it is a valuable addition to your CV when applying for jobs, and it ‘ticks a box’ for additional scholarly activity. Peer reviewing other’s work can also help you to improve your own submissions.
Dr James Doidge, Senior Research Associate, Administrative Data Research Centre for England explains, “Being a peer reviewer for IJPDS gives me insight to the editorial process and helps me keep abreast of research being conducted in the field of population data science. Perhaps most importantly, critically reviewing other researchers’ manuscripts gives me a better understanding of how to prepare my own papers in such a way as to increase their likelihood of making it through peer review and transferring knowledge to the readers who are our ultimate targets.”
This is particularly true for early career or up and coming PDS professionals. Learning how to be a good reviewer will teach you how to be a good author as highlighted by Professor Sinead Brophy, Swansea University Medical School who says, “Reviewing can give ideas for your own work. Other researchers often use methods or alternative ways of doing things that you might not have thought of yourself. Seeing other people’s approaches and datasets also gives ideas for collaborations and helps you get to know other people in the field doing similar work.”
If you are new to peer reviewing and unsure whether you have sufficient expertise in your field to get involved, then here is a holistic view of the qualities a peer-reviewer should have.
Firstly, if you are considering peer reviewing, then chances are you already have sufficient expertise to get involved. Peer-reviewers are not all high-level professionals and thought leaders with enviable levels of expertise gained from years of experience in their field. With the right combination of skills and knowledge, and a generous helping of enthusiasm, less experienced peer reviewers can add enormous value to the overall peer-review process.
An effective peer reviewer will acknowledge that they can’t be an expert in all aspects of a topic presented to them for review, and will focus mainly on the elements most pertinent to their particular knowledge and expertise. So for example, if you are a statistician, then comment on the statistics, if you are a data analyst, then question the datasets, etc.
Moreover, remember – you are not alone! Two or three people, each from their own angle of expertise, will review a manuscript and collectively, this should produce a thorough review for the authors and Editors to determine the next action.
So, armed with the confidence of knowing that you can make a valuable contribution in terms of your expertise, here are some other essential qualities a peer reviewer will need.
Thoroughness – Journals have a responsibility to their authors to turn around manuscripts from submission to (hopefully) publication within the shortest possible time. Peer reviewers that can review quickly and accurately whilst consistently meeting the deadlines are key to helping this process run smoothly. The ability to determine the overall validity of a manuscript along with thorough and detailed proof reading skills are essential to quality control.
Fearlessness – At least not being afraid to give carefully considered feedback. Authors submitting to a peer-reviewed journal understand and expect their research to be returned with comments and suggestions. So be bold, exercise your expertise, and give constructive feedback with comments or suggestions that will help the author. Be prepared to question, for example, the validity of the research question, the robustness of the methods employed, how valuable the research is to the particular subject area, and offer the author suggestions as to how their research could be improved upon.
Conscientiousness – It is fair to say not all peer-reviewers are equal and Editors will soon get a feel for how reliable each member of the review panel is. Put yourself in the shoes of the author (a situation that you have already, or are likely to, find yourself in) and always make sure that you are able to respond to any request to review a paper promptly. Also, be aware of potential unintentional bias that can quite easily creep in to your review of a manuscript and try to remain unbiased throughout the process.
Open communication – Following on from conscientiousness and keeping the author’s best interests at heart, a valued peer-reviewer will read the manuscript in full as soon as it arrives. On doing so, if you feel that you are unable to provide a fair review for any reason, then notifying the editor immediately, which will enable them to re-assign the paper to another reviewer quickly to avoid unnecessary delays for the author. Reliable, communicative peer reviewers will always stand out from the crowd!
Altruistic – Well, perhaps you also want to boost your career, but essentially reviewing is all about helping your peers to attain the highest quality of work and adding real value by helping improve the standards of published research. High quality research stimulates further research; it creates real impact, and ultimately improves the lives of everyone.
If you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer and joining the IJPDS international panel of PDS experts, then now is a great time to seize the opportunity to get involved whilst the call is open.
All you need to do is email us directly using firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, organisation, area/s of expertise, and contact details.
All peer-reviewers who go on to publish a manuscript in IJPDS within 12 month of conducting a review will be awarded a 50% discount on the standard article processing charges.*
We look forward to welcoming you to the team!
Written by Sharon Hindley, International Journal of Population Data Science (IJPDS)
*To qualify for the 50% discount, a reviewer must conduct a thorough peer-review upon request, and then submit an article within 12 months of completing the review. Requests to review articles are based upon the areas of expertise required for the content of a particular manuscript and therefore, we cannot guarantee that every IJPDS peer-reviewer will qualify for this offer.