President's Message

Want real peer review? Publish in society journals

Gerald Hart
Sept. 1, 2019

Peer Review Week (Sept. 16–20) is organized by a committee of 40 people from 29 scientific and publishing organizations worldwide. This year’s theme is “Quality in Peer Review.” The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology supports these efforts to highlight the importance of peer review by encouraging all ASBMB journal editors, associate editors and editorial board members to participate in events and activities that highlight the critical role peer review plays in the advancement of science.

Merriam–Webster defines peer review as “a process by which a scholarly work (such as a paper or a research proposal) is checked by a group of experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or accepted.” Careful review of manuscripts by qualified experts in the same area of science is essential to ensure that the published literature is kept to high standards of accuracy, rigor and reproducibility. Without rigorous peer-review processes, the scientific literature rapidly would be filled with “fake news.” The ultimate purpose of peer review is to maintain the integrity of science by preventing the publication of invalid or poor-quality articles, including those that do not present novel findings.

Careful peer review by experts in your specific area of research is one of many reasons why we all should be reviewing for and publishing in nonprofit society-supported journals, such as those published by the ASBMB. Society journals do not have gatekeepers who are not practicing scientists; manuscripts are assigned to board members and reviewed by active scientists with research laboratories in the same areas as the submissions.

Society journals decide whether to publish a paper based on the quality of the science and its contribution to advancing a field. They do not base decisions to publish on whether a manuscript is newsworthy, a euphemism for “How will it affect our impact factor?”

In addition, any funds generated by a society journal go back directly to supporting science, as travel awards for young people to attend national meetings, education programs and advocacy for government funding of science. For-profit journals make money for their stockholders and do little to support the science community.

As we celebrate and extol the importance of peer review this month, remember this: If you want your articles to be reviewed by your peers, you should submit your papers to nonprofit society-supported journals.

Enjoy reading ASBMB Today?

Become a member to receive the print edition monthly and the digital edition weekly.

Learn more
Gerald Hart

Gerald Hart is a professor and Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar at the University of Georgia. He is a former president of the ASBMB.

Related articles

New ASBMB committee members
ASBMB Today Staff
ASPET announces new leadership
ASBMB Today Staff
A journey with scientists
Daniel M. Raben
Connecting by committee
Adele Wolfson

Get the latest from ASBMB Today

Enter your email address, and we’ll send you a weekly email with recent articles, interviews and more.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

James Bryant Howard (1942 – 2022)
Retrospective

James Bryant Howard (1942 – 2022)

May 16, 2022

He was an ASBMB member for more than 40 years, and he served on the Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial board from 1986 to 1991.

Welcome to the lab
Life in the Lab

Welcome to the lab

May 15, 2022

Having a formal onboarding procedure for new lab members can lead to a happier and more productive working environment.

A journey with scientists
Essay

A journey with scientists

May 11, 2022

“As I started my career, my first-choice journal was JBC, and my go-to meeting was the ASBMB annual meeting, where I met colleagues and made friends that remain in my life to this day.”

The first malaria vaccine is a leap forward, but we can’t stop now
Essay

The first malaria vaccine is a leap forward, but we can’t stop now

May 7, 2022

Next-generation vaccines, and a lot more money, are needed now to crack the stalemate in the fight against malaria

Deterring passive aggressive behaviors in the workplace
Professional Development

Deterring passive aggressive behaviors in the workplace

April 30, 2022

Steps you should take to eliminate “triangulation” intended to undermine or diminish colleagues.

Connecting by committee
Essay

Connecting by committee

April 28, 2022

“It was the wisdom of the committee, not that of any individual, that allowed good ideas to come to fruition.”