We surveyed 5,000+ reviewers in 2015 and discovered…

The Source
By: Guest contributor, Tue Dec 15 2015

Author: Guest contributor

The team formally kicked off in January 2015 and our first task was to thank our reviewers from 2014 and find out what reviewers actually wanted. We emailed all reviewers who had completed one or more reviews for either a Springer, SpringerOpen or BioMed Central journal in 2014. In the email (sent to over 400,000 reviewers), we thanked each person for their help in reviewing for one or more journals and asked several questions. We wanted feedback on their motivation for reviewing, on their general workload as it pertains to reviewing, the resources they need to get their work done, and of course, feedback on what kind of recognition would be suitable and what rewards would be appealing for their efforts (if any).

Written by Celia Carver

We received over 5,000 completed surveys between February 18 and March 2 (our survey time period) with 1,400+ write-in comments. Here’s an overview of what we discovered:

  • Reviewers stressed the importance of modesty in rewards, with  59% strongly agreeing that they choose to do a review based on their expertise and the subject of the paper, not on any expected rewards
  • Reviewers were generally against a points-based system or rewards based on number of reviews and instead preferred being rewarded and recognized based on the quality of the review
  • 43% fully agreed that a stronger recognition of their work could motivate them to do more reviews; many stating that they preferred recognition through signed certificates from Editor(s)-in-Chief, acknowledgement in the journal, and in exceptional cases, being invited to join the Editorial Board
  • As for type of rewards, information or content access (i.e. print or eBooks) was most popular followed by discounts on publishing open access articles and receiving certificates
  • 72% of respondents would like access to see all their current and past review history
  • Many open comments reflected the need for reviewer training as a resource

The written comments themselves were rich with input and sound advice: One reviewer commented “In addition to sending this survey to reviewers, perhaps it would be useful for Springer to also ask for feedback from editors and publishers of journals.”

And so we did that, too, in the form of a communication and survey to all Editor(s)-in-Chief of our Springer, SpringerOpen and BioMed Central-branded journals in late summer of 2015. We’ll report our findings from that survey in due course.

For now, though, we recognize the importance of sharing these initial results.

So I’ll leave it at that, and end on my favorite write-in comment. The one that, when reading and reading (and reading) more than 1,400 comments, brought a smile to my face.

On the topic of rewards, one of our reviewers simply wrote: “Ice cream is always nice.”

To that I add: Yes. Yes it is.

Thank you to all reviewers who have contributed to the peer review process in 2015, and thank you to those who completed our survey and shared valuable comments. We look forward to working with you again in 2016, and to working from within as a company to meet your needs better in the near future.


Author: Guest contributor

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