Peer reviewed articles (or refereed articles) primarily appear in academic, scientific or other scholarly publications and are judged by an impartial panel of two or more experts in the field. The judgment criteria for any peer review article varies depending on the publication and subject matter, but peer reviewers (or referees) primarily focus on ensuring that an article is factually accurate, provides new information in a specified field and meets the proofreading and editorial guidelines of the publication.
According to the University of Texas at Austin, the peer review process is intended to maintain academic rigor and relevance in scholarly journals. The peer review process begins when an author composes an article on a subject within her field. After composing the article and selecting a place for publication, the author sends the article to an editor for review. The editor sends the work to two or three scholars, who review the accuracy and importance of the work.
In order to keep the process fair and impartial, many publications use a blind process within the peer review system. According to the University of North Florida, the blind review process requires the removal of the author's name from a manuscript, so the work is judged without the influence of his reputations or previous works. In some cases, a double blind process is used: the author does not know who is reviewing her work and the reviewers do not know whose work they are reviewing.
Some scholarly publications do not rely on the peer review process. According to the University of North Florida, journals like the Harvard Business Review rely solely on the criticisms of editorial staff. While this review process is similar to that of consumer magazines, the Harvard Business Review is highly regarded in both the business and academic communities.
The biggest benefit of the peer review process is that it fosters integrity, innovation and scholarship in academic journals. Because of the blind review aspect of peer reviews, published works are evaluated based on their content rather than the previous works of the authors. The peer review system also ensures that the works presented in a journal or other academic publication are adding new and important material to the field. Finally, peer reviews helps scholars maintain communication within the academic community.
Although the peer review process is meant to reduce personal biases in the publication process, it is not without flaws. According to an article published by the Center for Science and Culture, the National Council for Science Education (NCSE) published an article on intelligent designed that passed their rigorous peer review process. However, the NCSE had earlier instituted a policy in which scholarly work on the controversial topic would not be published in their journal. Although the peer review process is meant to reduce personal biases in the publication process, it is not without its flaws.
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