Peer-reviewing in Surgical Journals: Revolutionize or Perish?

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: The gold standard of safe-guarding the quality of published science is peer review. However, this long-standing system has not evolved in today’s digital world, where there has been an explosion in the number of publications and surgical journals. A journal’s quality depends not only on the quality of papers submitted but is reflected upon the quality of its peer review process. Over the past decade journals are experiencing a rapidly escalating “peer review crisis” with editors struggling in recruiting reliable reviewers who will provide their skilled work for free with ever-diminishing incentives within today’s restricted time-constraints. The problem is complex and difficult to solve, but more urgent than ever. Time is valuable and academicians, researchers and clinicians are overburdened and already extremely busy publishing their own research along with their ever growing clinical and administrative duties. Fewer and fewer individuals volunteer to provide their skilled work for free which is expected. The current incentives to review do not have a big impact on one’s career and therefore are not realistic effective countermeasures.As the limits of the system are constantly stretched, there will inevitably come a “point of no return” and Surgical Journals will be the ones to first take the hit as there is an overwhelming evidence of burnout in the surgical specialties and the Surgical community is almost 50% smaller than its Medical counterpart.This review identifies the potential causes of the peer-review crisis, outlines the incentives and drawbacks of being a reviewer, summarizes the currently established common practices of rewarding reviewers and the existing and potential solutions to the problem. The magnitude of the problem and unsustainability that will make it perish are discussed along with its current flaws. Finally, recommendations are made to address many of the weaknesses of the system with the hope to revive it.

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Authors: George D Chloros, Vasileios P Giannoudis, Peter V Giannoudis