Study: Peer Review Increases Impact of Published Scholarship

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Tomorrow afternoon, the WAC Program is sponsoring a talk at Fall for the Book on “The Future of Academic Writing and Publishing.”  The talk will feature five panelists who will consider how academic publishing is currently evolving and how scholars and editors might respond to that continuing evolution.  One facet of this evolution concerns the prevalence of metrics that quantify the “impact” of a given article or journal.  While impact metrics have been critiqued for a number of reasons, their use has remained prevalent, perhaps increasingly so.  And that prevalence lead researchers John Rigby, Deborah Cox, and Keith Julian to wonder what impact factor metrics might reveal about academic writing beyond the circulation of a particular text. 

Drawing on previous discussions about the role of peer review in published scholarship, Rigby, Cox, and Julian studied the relationship between impact factor and editorial practices; they used the journal Business, Management and Accounting as a case study.  They published a brief write-up of their study in the London School of Economics’ Impact BlogTheir research suggests a positive correlation between the number of reviews an article undergoes and its impact: “We provide some statistical evidence from a study of a single journal’s reviewing process over a number of years to show that the more revisions a paper undergoes, the greater its subsequent recognition in terms of citation impact.”

Rigby, Cox, and Julian suggest that this finding has implications for the ways in which editors and authors interact.  Rather than understanding peer review “… as a decision-making process, where a binary choice is made to accept or reject a paper, or where errors are identified and then removed,” academics should understand peer review “as a process, often a long one, and one in which a constructive dialogue can take place. It is a process which writers from the business and management field could easily recognise as one of ‘open innovation’ or ‘co-creation.’”  That is, we should understand the relationship between authors, editors, and reviewers as less transactional gate-keeping and more as developmental collaboration.

To read the LSE Impact Blog post about this research, click here.

Rigby, Cox, and Julian’s full study is available here.

And don’t forget to join us tomorrow afternoon at 4:30pm in JC Room F.

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