A year’s snapshot of Peer Review

IOPP and the scientific publishing community in general rely hugely on the peer review community and peer review is critical to the scientific process. These are the people who ensure quality and academic integrity is maintained across our journal portfolio and have a huge say in what we publish at IOPP. So, given their importance to scientific publishing, we need to ask who are the reviewers and what types of institutions do they come from?

As a result, and following on from last year’s peer review week, IOPP has again collated the data on our reviewers and created the above infographic. Below are some of the key take away points from this data and a few thoughts on what they mean for IOPP and the scientific community in general.

As with 2015 the biggest source of peer reviewers for IOP owned journals continues to be the United States (with just under a quarter of all referees coming from an American institution). The US & Germany retain their place in the top five as well with 22% and 7% of reviewers. This likely represents the continued dominance of US institutions in terms of both prestige and funding.

While over half of our reviewers come from North American or Western European institutions (27% and 28% respectfully) a shift has become apparent. In 2015 the top three spots were still all taken up by countries in those regions, whereas last year this was broken as China shot up from 4th to 2nd place with its share of reviewers boosted by 4%. While the US retains its top spot, the share of reviewers from US institutions dropped from 28% to 22%.

According to the OECD China is forecast to overtake the United States in research funding by 2020, and since 1978 there has been an average growth of 24% in students enrolled for doctoral courses. THE WEF (World Economic Forum) estimated that in 2016 China had 4.7 million STEM graduates compared to only 568,000 in the US. With a larger pool of academics, it shouldn’t be too surprising that this is having a spill-over effect into peer review. As the academic community in China matures and deepens further this is a trend which seems likely to continue and gain in strength.

As well as being a sign of growing scientific superpower this is also a sign of the growing internationalisation of IOPP published journals and journals in general. Researchers in nations like China are no longer solely publishing and reviewing for local language journals and are more likely to work with English language journals like those published at IOPP.

Two notable absences in this are the lack of any top rankings for countries in South America, Africa and the absence of India from the top five. Institutions in the largest South American nation (Brazil) provided us with 2% of our reviewers, India provided us with 3%.

To conclude this short analysis this new data seems to confirm the big trend in scientific publishing and the peer review community. That is, the growth of China as an academic superpower and the relative decline in North American and European institutions as scientific publishing becomes more internationally focused. This is a trend that seems likely to continue as IOPP seeks more referees from previously underrepresented countries.

Find out more about what IOP has been doing for Peer Review Week here.

Read about our initiatives since last year here.


This post was written by Rob Freeman, Editorial Assistant for Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and TheoreticalJournal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics, and Physica Scripta.

 

 


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