Thank you from the BMC-series

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The BMC-series acknowledges the valuable work undertaken by referees in the peer review process.

You may have noticed that journals in the BMC-series have recently each started to publish a Reviewer Acknowledgement article thanking all of the reviewers that have given their time to assist the journal during 2013. This is the second year that we have decided to publish these articles, as a way of drawing attention to the crucial role provided by peer reviews in scientific publication.

Many of you reading this may well have acted as reviewers yourselves, or been on the receiving end of their comments. But how often do we (and we include the BMC-series in this) actually stop and think about the purpose of this role, and why do people wish to act as reviewers anyway?

There are many reasons why researchers and clinicians choose to adopt the role of reviewer, in additional to their already busy workloads. For many, there is the appeal of being the first to see the latest research that is taking place in the field. Additionally though, most researchers will recognise that the reciprocal assessment of each other’s work is a necessary element of the scientific process, without which publication of new works would be severely compromised. For this reason, many  reviewers will happily step forward to offer their scientific advice, in the knowledge that when their manuscript requires assessment, others will do likewise. Some may even keep an informal tally of their “peer-review debt”, in which they do not take on new reviews unless their own papers have been reviewed. A further exploration of why people choose to peer review, as well as what makes a good report, is outline in this recent blog from ‘The Boreal Beetle’.

As we are sure that most of you reading this will be aware, it is the ethos of the BMC-series to assist people in getting their scientifically sound research published. Clearly reviewers are at the heart of this, and we would therefore hope that authors see referee’s comments as a valuable tool for improving their work, rather than as a barrier to publication that needs to be overcome. It is because of this that we have decided to take some time at the beginning of the year to thank all of those people who have reviewed for us. Around two thirds of these reviewers will already have been named at publication due to our policy of open peer-review on medical journals, but these articles are our way of collectively thanking everyone for their time and effort, and of openly declaring how grateful we are.