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Where can early career researchers learn how to peer review a scientific paper?

Issue: 44(1) February 2018. Original articles Pages 4 – 7

Mariana Pinto da Costa
Hospital de Magalhães Lemos, Porto, Portugal; Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto, Porto, Portugal; Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry (WHO Collaborating Centre for Mental Health Services Development), Queen Mary University of London, London, United Kingdom;

José Oliveira
Centro Hospitalar Psiquiátrico de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal

Jibril Abdulmalik
Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria


Background: The ability to peer review a scientific paper is an important skill for researchers, but many early career researchers do not obtain relevant training. In this article, we aimed to identify and describe the different resources available for researchers to learn how to peer review.
Methods: We conducted a web-based search, looking for resources that teach how to peer review. In addition, we contacted authors who published with the terms “peer review” or “early career researchers”, enquiring about the resources they were acquainted with. We used a SWOT framework to analyse the resources with a direct focus on practical teaching of peer review and widespread availability.
Results: We found seven formats of resources available: practical structured peer review training courses; online guidelines; online webinars/videos; journal clubs of post-publication reviews; critical appraisal meetings of pre-publication reviews; editorial board experiences and support from supervisors/mentors. The authors contacted described the main purpose of each resource and how directly they focused on the purpose of teaching competencies to peer review. These resources also vary in their format: either online or face-to-face, independently or in a group. Only one resource was directly focused on practically teaching how to peer review and was readily available online at no cost.
Conclusions: The utilization of these resources may be the answer to the expressed needs of the academic community to see support for peer review in place, guiding early career researchers on how to peer review and addressing the current difficulties that editors face in finding reviewers.

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