May 28, 2024

Reflecting on new directions for peer review

min read

Peer review is facing a moment of reckoning. A recent article in Science Editor, “Peer Review Innovations: Insights and Ideas from the Researcher to Reader 2024 Workshop,” by Tony Alves, Jason De Boer, Alice Ellingham, Elizabeth Hay, and Christopher Leonard, delves into the Peer Review Innovations workshop at this year’s Researcher to Reader (R2R) Conference in London.  

The workshop shed light on the need for substantial improvements in the existing peer review framework. In this blog, we share our perspectives on the excellent insights that emerged from it.

Peer review, often considered the cornerstone of academic validation, faces several challenges today. From inherent biases and frustrating delays to the dangerous “publish or perish” culture, the system struggles with inefficiencies that hinder scientific progress. The consensus within the workshop group, which we believe is reflective of the broader industry sentiment, is that significant change is necessary in peer review.

Going beyond high-level discussions, the workshop yielded various tangible and actionable points to address the things in peer review that need fixing. One portion of the article that particularly resonates with us is the “technology-focused” ideas put forth by the group, focusing on gaps that need addressing and areas for innovation.

The workshop group collectively emphasized the importance of reducing friction and delays in the peer review workflow. The group discussed the implementation of automated tools to alleviate administrative burdens on journals, including triaging submissions and conducting integrity checks upstream. Additionally, there was consensus on leveraging automated reviewer finding and matching tools, as well as embracing AI to enhance the review process. Importantly, the group highlighted the value of enabling collaborative peer review to promote greater transparency and engagement within the scholarly community.

These insights resonated with us because they speak to the objectives we are pursuing through the Kriyadocs peer review platform. With 20 years of publishing expertise, we have created tools to empower authors, reviewers, and editors in refining the peer review process, ensuring efficiency and upholding quality standards. Kriyadocs is committed to minimizing friction and eliminating delays through innovative solutions.  

Amid ongoing industry discussions about the pressing issue of integrity, Kriyadocs Presubmit—a solution that provides an authoring environment equipped with automated checks for high-quality journal submissions—was unveiled earlier this year at the London Book Fair. With this solution, we aim to streamline the transition from submission to review and leverage automation to handle integrity checks and metadata validation. This will take the heavy lifting off journal staff and help maintain the rigorous standards of peer review.

When it comes to transparency and collaboration, we participate in initiatives that pave the way for standardization across the industry, helping to create an environment where different journals can work together seamlessly. This means more innovation, more experimentation, and ultimately, better research for everyone.

We are building an ecosystem designed to help address present-day challenges in scholarly communication while also ensuring its readiness for future developments as the landscape evolves.

During the R2R workshop, the group embraced "blue-sky thinking," delving into ideas unrestricted by concerns such as finances, resources, or time. Inspired by this approach, we are indulging in some wishful thinking of our own regarding the researcher experience aspect discussed in the Science Editor article.  

One prominent issue is the lack of formal training for peer review. Insights from the 2024 CSE Annual Meeting breakout session, "Sustaining through training: Preparing the next generations of editors and peer reviewers," (featuring speakers Barbara Gastel and Ann Tennier and moderated by Ginny Herbert and Kristin S. Inman, PhD, ELS), emphasized the importance of structured training and mentoring to address this gap. Establishing a mentor-mentee setup is key for effective knowledge transfer, with frequent opportunities for editors and stakeholders to connect and brainstorm.

Several innovative approaches were highlighted during the session. One strategy that stood out to us was the concept of an editorial fellowship, where early career researchers (ECRs) undergo an internship shadowing a handling editor. This involves pairing trainee fellows with editorial board members for guided learning. Moreover, formalizing roles like "senior editor mentors" can leverage the expertise of senior editorial board members who wish to be actively involved in their societies.

Peer reviewer partnership programs, where mentors and mentees review papers together, and student peer review programs were recognized for providing practical experience and formal recognition (through letters from editors or, potentially, platforms like ORCID). Strategies such as these can help integrate peer review participation into the researcher journey, ideally during the phase where research skills and ethical mindsets are being moulded and developed.

There is a need for standardized training programs integrated into curricula to move away from the ad hoc, pay-it-forward approach currently prevalent. The relevance of this only grows with rising concerns around research integrity in scholarly communication. And for training to be standardized across the globe, recognizing and addressing cultural differences in the peer review process globally is crucial. This calls for a truly global community that develops guidelines and frameworks for formal training and mentoring, especially for ECRs. By integrating formal training on ethical research practices, sound science, and collaborative peer review into early graduate or even undergraduate-level programs, we can establish a solid foundation early on.  

Ultimately, these efforts will contribute to a shift that nurtures a robust peer review culture built on integrity and excellence.

With technology growing rapidly and global collaboration becoming easier and easier, we stand at a pivotal juncture today. We are excited to be a part of this transformative shift in peer review, and we are keen to do our part in this collective journey towards a more efficient, transparent, and equitable peer review process—a journey that promises to shape the future of academic publishing for generations to come.


Alves T, De Boer J, Ellingham A, Hay, Leonard C. Peer review innovations: insights and ideas from the researcher to reader 2024 workshop. 2024;47.  

Abhaya Ranganathan & Janani Krishnan
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