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The vital role of the peer reviewer

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Concept of peer review: magnifying glass formed by people

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Peer review and the peer review process is central to the publication of scholarly and research manuscripts in journals. Key opinion leaders and internationally renowned experts dedicate a large amount of their time, often outside their day-to-day responsibilities and working life and on an anonymous basis, to assess the suitability of an article for publication. Reviewers provide recommendations and constructive comments to authors and often compile detailed reports that take time to prepare. These are invaluable to help editors decide whether to accept the article for publication or reject the manuscript.

In this way, peer review acts as a filter, providing each manuscript with a fair assessment and appraisal by members of the scientific community. The process is not without its flaws and its value often debated but, at present, it is the best tool we have to authenticate information and the implementation of a robust process is often viewed as measure of a journal’s quality.

To celebrate peer review, a number of organisations have worked collaboratively to provide a week of activities and events from 19–23 September 2016. This year’s theme focuses on ‘Recognition for review’, and explores all aspects of how those participating in review activity — in publishing, grant review, conference submissions, promotion and tenure, and more — should be recognised for their contribution.

Clinical Pharmacist relaunched in January 2016 as a peer-reviewed journal, a process which relied greatly on the generosity of the community — including pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, active clinicians, clinical academics, health policy experts and others —to produce detailed commentary on our continuing professional development (CPD), review, perspective and research articles. Peer review week is therefore an important time to acknowledge this contribution and for us to thank these reviewers for their dedication, time and efforts.

Through a rigorous double-blind peer review process, we aim to ensure that articles published in Clinical Pharmacist are unbiased, scientifically accurate and clinically relevant. All articles are reviewed by at least three specialists in the field, selected on the basis of experience and expertise.

All peer reviewers for Clinical Pharmacist are invited personally by one of our in-house editors to review a manuscript. This ensures that peer reviewers have a named contact, who is available to provide help and assistance throughout the review process. Each reviewer is asked to complete a report form and we have developed specific guidance documents, including ‘How to be an effective peer reviewer’, to help with its preparation.

Since January 2016, 108 individuals from a range of disciplines and roles have kindly donated their time and expertise to act as peer reviewers for Clinical Pharmacist. While the majority of our reviewers are UK-based (64%), collaborative involvement from experts across Europe (18%), the USA and Canada (14%) continues to grow, alongside an emerging reviewer base in Australia (4%).

Recognition for review was a factor we considered at length during the relaunch of Clinical Pharmacist. Because the process is anonymous, providing outward recognition is not easy — however, there are ways in which this can be done. The names of our reviewers are included in the next print issue, as soon as their review is submitted (rather than on publication of the article they have reviewed) and all reviewers receive an email from the editor thanking them for their contribution. A large number of our reviewers are also invited to join our Advisory Board, which consists of individuals who have given their time, provided editorial advice to the journal and publishing team and supported editorial processes. The collective expertise of the Advisory Board ensures that Clinical Pharmacist continues to provide credible authoritative and high-quality resources on the clinical management of disease in relation to medicines and up-to-date information about advances in pharmacy and drug development.

Logo of Peer Review Week 2016

We are always looking to continue to build our network of peer reviewers, so please do get in contact if you would like to be involved (submitcp@rpharms.com). You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using #PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview. 

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