“Peer review can make or break professional careers and directly influence public policy”

ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2007, p. 148

Peer review refers to the assessment of research or researchers by others working in the same or a related field. Peer review is used in the selection of works for publication, in the evaluation of funding applications and in the selection and promotion of staff. Peer review plays an important role in research by helping to maintain high standards and encourage accurate, thorough and credible research reporting. It is therefore important that peer review is fair, impartial and independent.

All researchers can expect to have their work peer-reviewed. Participation as a reviewer is therefore a responsibility of researchers. Participation also provides advantages to individuals by affording them a better understanding of the peer review system and by honing their critical evaluation skills. Different peer review activities will require varying levels of assessment and reporting and researchers must follow the relevant guidelines (e.g., of a journal or funding body). The general principles of responsible peer review require that researchers act within their expertise to provide an assessment that is fair, thorough and prompt.

Researchers must comply with the University’s policy on the responsible conduct of research when undertaking or undergoing peer review. It is especially important that researchers acknowledge and disclose relevant conflicts of interest when undertaking a review. Researchers whose work is undergoing peer review must not seek to influence the process or outcomes.

Key resources

1.50.01 Code of Conduct

1.50.11 Conflict of Interest

4.20.02 Responsible Conduct of Research

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Additional resources

Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers (Committee on Publication Ethics)

How to Review a Manuscript Webcasts (Elsevier)