Written evidence submitted by John Wiley
& Sons (PR 31)|
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. was founded in 1807.
Wiley's core businesses include scientific, technical, medical
and scholarly (STMS) journals, encyclopedias, books and online
products and services; professional/trade books, subscription
products, training materials, online applications and web sites;
and educational materials for undergraduate and graduate students
and lifelong learners. Wiley's global headquarters are located
in Hoboken, NJ, with operations in the US, Europe, Asia, Canada
and Australia. The company's web site can be accessed at www.wiley.com.
The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the
symbols JWa and JWb.
Wiley-Blackwell is the international STMS publishing
business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major
academic and professional field and partnerships with many of
the world's leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes 1,500
peer-reviewed journals and nearly 1,500 new books annually in
print and online, as well as databases, major reference works
and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com
or our new online platform, Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com).
1. Wiley welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the Science and Technology Committee's inquiry into peer review
which it sees as an essential part of the publishing process.
2. The journals published by Wiley (many in partnership
with societies) received around 470k submissions in 2010 for peer
review. This represents a 12% increase in submissions from 2009,
and a 29% increase from 2008. In 2010 we published 2% more articles
than in 2009, ie we increased our rejection rate to achieve higher
3. To quote from Peer Review and Manuscript Management
in Scientific Journals by Irene Hames (published by Wiley-Blackwell
in association with the Association of Learned and Professional
Society Publishers): "It is the quality-control mechanism
that determines what is and what is not published, and in most
scientific disciplines work will not be considered seriously until
it has been validated by peer review. It acts as a filter for
interest and relevance."
4. Along with the selection function peer review
plays an important role in many disciplines in improving the paper
5. Peer review does not normally deal with fraud
and plagiarism although reviewers will sometimes pick these up.
There are now tools such as CrossCheck which assist editors in
detecting duplication and therefore possibly plagiarism. New tools
also enable publishers to detect duplicate submissions to the
6. Wiley has been instrumental in working with
the leading online peer review system, ScholarOne Manuscripts,
to introduce features that increase the efficiency of journal
editorial staff and the peer review process. Such improvements
include: electronic copyright agreements, automatic deposit of
NIH-funded papers in PubMed Central, and plagiarism detection.
7. Peer review is a robust and evolving system
which has been capable of handling an increase in submissions
in recent years of around 10% per annum in our case without slowing
1. The strengths and weaknesses of peer review
as a quality control mechanism for scientists, publishers and
1.1 Ideally peer review filters out poor science,
(a) Design and methodology is sound.
(b) Work is reported clearly with acknowledgement
to previous published work.
(c) Results are interpreted correctly.
It should also help the editor select what will be
of interest to the journal's readers, ie within scope of the editorial
policy, and help the authors improve the quality of the paper.
The Ware survey (Mark Ware & Mike Monkman, "Peer Review
in Scholarly Journals - perspective of the scholarly community:
an international study", a Publishing Research Consortium
Project - see report at http://www.publishingresearch.net/PeerReview)
reported that only 8% of papers submitted are accepted without
revision; 64% of respondents reported that peer review of their
last published paper had identified scientific errors. To quote
Ware: "Testing of work through the criticism of peers is
in a broad sense at the heart of scientific method".
1.2 As is well understood by all users the quality
of journals varies. Authors will submit their best work to high
status journals and the reviewer will as instructed by the editor
apply standards appropriate to the journal. Users will be aware
of this hierarchy when searching the literature.
1.3 The system is remarkably robust. Its demise
has been predicted for decades yet it handles an annual increase
in submissions of around 5-10% in recent years across the industry.
1.4 The weaknesses of peer review can be minimised
by emphasis on publishing ethics. Reviewers, for example, should
declare any conflict of interest and not abuse their privileged
1.5 Peer review is also criticised for delaying
publication but this has to be set against the benefits listed
above. In some subjects, such as clinical medicine, releasing
a paper without peer review could have serious consequences.
2. Measures to strengthen peer review
2.1 It is in the interest of publishers to strengthen
peer review whenever possible. We compete for authors who submit
largely on the basis of the status of the journal. Most editors
are trying to increase the Impact Factor (IF) of their journal.
And some customers (libraries) are taking IF into account when
deciding on renewals or cancellations.
2.2 There are two elements to improvement:
(a) Technology - electronic editorial office
systems have enabled editors to manage the peer review process
more quickly and internationally, with feedback on performance.
(b) Conduct and best practice - Wiley, for example,
has been a strong supporter of the Committee on Publication Ethics
(COPE; http://publicationethics.org/) and issues its own guidelines
to editors backed up by surveys.
3. The value and use of peer reviewed science
on advancing and testing scientific knowledge
3.1 The value is clearly understood by users
as was shown in the Tenopir et al. study (Research Publication
Characteristics and Their Relative Values. A Report for the Publishing
Research Consortium, http://www.publishingresearch.net). It is
difficult to imagine how research would progress without the foundation
of peer-reviewed literature; presumably less efficiently and more
4. The value and use of peer reviewed science
in informing public debate
4.1 Sense about Science (http://www.senseaboutscience.org)
has shown the importance of public awareness of peer review, as
has the Science Media Centre (http://www.sciencemediacentre.org)
in briefing the media. Publishers like to see their peer reviewed
articles quoted by the media and encourage this through press
releases and agencies.
5. The extent to which peer review varies
between scientific disciplines and between countries across the
5.1 There is considerable variation between disciplines.
We do not attempt to standardize the process but support whatever
model has evolved in each community.
5.2 There is also variation between countries
but this is perhaps reducing with the widespread adoption of online
peer review systems, the efforts of COPE and other organisations
such as ICSU with its committee on Freedom and Responsibility
in Science (CFRS) and the larger international publishers taking
on locally-based journals.
5.3 There is some imbalance between the origin
of papers and the location of reviewers. For example North Americans
make an above average contribution to the process while the Chinese
are below average but this is likely to even out with globalization.
6. The process by which reviewers with the
requisite skills and knowledge are identified, in particular as
the volume of multi-disciplinary research increase
6.1 The greater accessibility of journal content
and discoverability enables editorial teams to identify potential
reviewers more easily and through online peer review systems their
performance can be tracked. As the multi-disciplinary approach
develops it will produce more researchers capable of reviewing
The challenge to find appropriate reviewers can be
more acute in niche subjects where it may be difficult to find
two independent reviewers without a conflict of interest.
7. The impact of IT and greater use of online
resources on the peer review process
7.1 This has enabled us to keep pace with the
growth in submission as outlined above. Nearly all of our 1500
journals use online peer review systems.
8. Possible alternatives to peer review
8.1 Most of our journals employ single blind
review but we monitor closely experience with double-blind review
and open peer review. One of our learned society partners (EMBO)
is also developing a more transparent approach.
Evidence for the efficacy and usefulness of post-publication
comment is not yet convincing, both in terms of the quantity and
quality of such comments, although we expect to see links to blogs
and other post-publication comments as standard practice, and
our systems and processes will accommodate this if the academic
and professional communities whom we serve want it. Post-publication
comment is likely to be a supplement to pre-publication review
rather than a substitute for it.
The real challenge is how to deal with the growth
in research data that sits behind the journal article. Policies
for data curation and sharing are emerging but there is no related
peer review process or quality control.
Peer review depends on the voluntary support of the
research community. The Ware survey indicated largely altruistic
explanations for their support. The most popular reason was "to
play your part as a member of the academic community", followed
by "to enjoy being able to improve the paper", and "enjoy
seeing new work ahead of publication". The second and third
explanations indicate why pre-publication peer review as opposed,
say, post-publication comment dominates the publishing process.
Researchers like to be involved before publication in producing
a better paper. It is our job as publishers to enable reviewers
to carry out their task as efficiently as possible. We do this
by investing in the appropriate technology, working closely with
editors, supporting and implementing the guidelines from COPE
and never taking our reviewers for granted.
Robert Campbell and Cliff
John Wiley & Sons