Policy Peer Review Procedure

Peer Review Procedure


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Intent

Peer review has an important role in research and research management such as in the assessment of research grant applications, selecting material for publications and in the review of performance of researchers and teams. Peer review can also assist with the assessment of research quality, engagement and impact undertaken by government bodies and agencies.

JCU encourages participation in peer review processes, as it provides expert scrutiny of research and helps maintain high standards and encourages accurate and thorough credible research reporting. Peer review may draw attention to deviations from the principles of the JCU Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (Research Code), such as identifying duplicate publication, errors and misleading statements and is important in the detection of fabrication and fraud in research.

In compliance with the principles of the Research Code, this Procedure seeks to assist researchers to understand and apply best practice in conducting and participating in peer review. Some of the definitions and other text in this Procedure are reproduced from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Peer Review Guide.

Scope

This Procedure sets out the University’s expectations for the conduct of all persons engaged in peer review under the auspices of the University.

Definitions

Peer Review - is the impartial and independent assessment of research by others working in the same or related field

Peer Reviewers - JCU researchers participating in peer review processes

Procedure

1. Participation and Conduct in Peer Review

Researchers must recognise the importance in participating in peer review processes and JCU encourages their involvement. Researchers in receipt of public funding have a responsibility to participate in peer review processes. To ensure the quality and integrity of the peer review process, researchers should ensure that they have the appropriate expertise to participate in any peer review activity.

Peer Reviewers must act in a way that is fair, rigorous and timely and ensure that the confidentiality of any peer review process is maintained. Researchers must engage in peer review appropriately and respectfully, and must not use the peer review process to disparage other researchers. Peer Reviewers must:

  • Ensure that they are informed about and comply with the criteria to be applied in the peer review process, including funding agencies and publishers specific peer review policies, guidelines and expectations;
  • Review research objectively with respect to the review criteria;
  • Apply standards equally to all research under review;
  • Give proper consideration to research that challenges or changes accepted ways of thinking, which may include innovative, interdisciplinary or collaborative research;
  • Maintain professionalism in the tone of their comments, ensuring that peer reviews are as constructive as possible.

Peer Reviewers must not:

  • Contact the author/s or other reviewers unless authorised to do so;
  • Delegate responsibility or ask others to assist with a review, unless authorised to do so;
  • Take into account factors that are not relevant to the review criteria;
  • Seek to unduly influence the review process;
  • Permit personal prejudice to influence the process. Reviewers should be aware of personal biases in relation to gender, ethnicity, nationality, institutional employer and research discipline;
  • Take advantage of knowledge obtained during the peer review process or use information from research projects under review without permission;
  • Conduct a review for which one lacks appropriate expertise;
  • Intentionally delay the review process.

2. Confidentiality

Peer Reviewers must ensure that they adhere to confidentiality requirements of all bodies utilising peer review including; universities, publishers and funding agencies. Peer reviewers are required to maintain confidentiality of the peer review process and must not disclose the content of any projects under review or the outcome of any review in which they are involved.

3. Disclose and Manage Conflict of Interests

Peer Reviewers must declare all material (relevant) interests and abide by any requirements established to manage conflicts of interest in accordance with the Research Code and other JCU Policies and Procedures. Researchers whose work is undergoing peer review must not seek to influence the process or the outcomes of the review.

4. Training and Education

Researchers have an obligation to engage in the training and education provided by JCU in regard to their responsibilities under the Research Code, including peer review. Supervising researchers are responsible for developing research trainees under their supervision in the necessary skills for peer review and understanding their obligations to participate in peer review and conduct peer review responsibly.

5. Breaches of the Research Code

Any concerns or complaints about potential breaches of the Research Code, including any allegation regarding peer review, must be managed in accordance with the JCU Procedure for Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Research Code. Examples of breaches of the Code that are related to peer review include, but are not limited to:

  • Failing to conduct peer review responsibly and fairly;
  • Taking advantage of knowledge obtained through peer review processes;
  • Disclosing the content or outcome of peer review processes;
  • Failing to disclose relevant interests.

Related policy instruments

JCU Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (Research Code)

Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Code Procedure (to be developed)

Administration

NOTE:  Printed copies of this procedure are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Provost

Version no

19-1

Date for next Major Review

18/11/2022

Revision History

Version

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

19-1

15/11/2019

18/11/2019

Procedure established to implement the JCU Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Manager, Research Grants, Ethics and Integrity

Contact person:

Manager, Research Grants, Ethics and Integrity

Keywords:

Peer review, research, research output, responsible research, research integrity