#PeerReviewWeek – Interview with Simon Linacre, Director of International Marketing & Development at Cabells and member of Peer Review Week Communications Committee


This Peer Review Week, Inspired Selection asked Simon Linacre all about the Peer Review process and the week’s theme of ‘trust’.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about Peer Review yourself or want some material to share with someone who is, this is a great, concise read about the process: 


      1. In a nutshell, what is peer review?

For me, peer review is one of the defining aspects of the whole scientific process. It enables society to depend on scientific progress without having to know the science themselves, as well as providing a system for recognising and rewarding academic research through publications.


      2. This year, the theme is Trust. Why is it so important to have trust in the system?  

If we are to rely on scientific research without knowing the science ourselves, we have to trust that whatever is being published is being done so to the highest level. When you think about it, trust is not just important for peer review, but for knowledge development as a whole.


      3. What measures are put in place to make sure it’s robust? 

At every stage, publishers and editors try to ensure that their processes are as robust as possible. Double blind peer review, sophisticated submission systems and increased transparency mean that any author submitting their work - and anyone reading the final publication - can depend on a system that is also trying to reduce lead times for the whole process as much as possible. At Cabells, we see this when we do our audits of journals to check paper trails of peer review processes. Even quite small journals have been able to take advantage of the digitisation benefits that submission systems can bring.


       4. For those of us working inside a publishing company, what skills are required to ensure the peer review system remains trustworthy?

I think it is important to understand what peer review means for those other people involved in it. For authors it is often a stressful and long process that requires a lot of patience, so regular communication and transparency is key; for editors the process can sometimes be overwhelming with so many papers at different stages of peer review in the system at any one time, so they need as much support as possible; for reviewers who give their time and expertise for free and are increasingly being asked to review more, any recognition or benefits they can receive will help enormously. As a result, any skills or actions that help the key actors in peer review in these ways will be positive for the publisher and, ultimately, the progress of science.


      5. Where would the world be without peer review?

It is really not possible to understate how crucial peer review is to the world. Almost any scientific advance you can think of would have involved peer review at some stage to validate the creation of new knowledge. Also important is the check it has on science where it identifies problems with research and rejects them so that they are not published and consumed by other scientists and the general public. The absence of peer review can also cause major problems, such as the articles published in predatory journals which are accessible to the public but contain completely unverified research.


       6. And finally, what’s your involvement with Peer Review and what should we be looking out for / getting involved with this week?

Hopefully, you won't be able to miss it this week with the number of activities going on! I work on the communications committee, and there is a huge number of webinars taking place this week that are taking advantage of people's increased use of Zoom and other platforms. We're co-hosting one with NISO about increased collaboration between organisations that are improving peer review processes (http://www2.cabells.com/webinar) and you can find out more about all the other activities on the Peer Review Week website (https://peerreviewweek.wordpress.com/) which also provides resources for everyone who rely on peer review in some way.


Simon Linacre is Director of International Marketing & Development at Cabells having previously spent 15 years at Emerald Publishing, where he had direct experience in journal acquisitions, Open Access and business development. His background is in journalism and he has been published in academic journals on the topics of bibliometrics and knowledge transfer. Simon is also an ALPSP tutor and COPE Trustee. He holds Masters Degrees in Philosophy and International Business, and has global experience lecturing to researchers on publishing strategies and publication ethics.