September 17, 2019

Peer review makes the world of science go round

Peer Review Week: Professor Siekhaus among best reviewers of Developmental Cell – Peer Review Week from September 16-20 puts peer reviewers in the spotlight

Professor Daria Siekhaus was nominated by Developmental Cell editors as one of their best reviewers. © Nadine Poncioni/IST Austria

“Peer reviewers are the first gatekeepers of scientific integrity.”

In the run-up to Peer Review Week 2019, Professor Daria Siekhaus, leader of the research group studying invasive migration at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), has been nominated as one of their best reviewers by the editors of the renowned journal Developmental Cell by Cell Press. A statement by Professor Siekhaus on her philosophy about peer reviewing appears in a special “Voices” article in the current issue of Cell. Peer Review Week is a global yearly event—this year happening September 16-20, 2019—to celebrate the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. We asked Daria Siekhaus to comment on her nomination—and found out that to her, peer reviewing is not only a regulated formal process but an indispensable everyday activity within the scientific community.

The currency of science

At IST Austria, Professor Siekhaus studies how cells move within the complex environment of an organism. Using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model organism, her research group analyzes the process of cell migration and seeks to identify ways in which it is regulated. The results of this research have been published in well-known peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Cell Biology, eLife and Developmental Cell. The time Siekhaus spends reviewing papers of peer scientists adds up to about one week per year, she estimates. “The currency on which science runs is papers. Just like publishing, I consider peer reviewing an integral part of my life as a scientist,” says Siekhaus. “Making sure that the data shown by other scientists was collected in ways that are reproducible and truly address the questions asked is essential to allow scientists to build on each other’s work. Determining that the conclusions drawn from a paper are justifiable is crucial for findings to be productively integrated, allowing the field to progress effectively. Peer reviewers are the first gatekeepers of scientific integrity, assigned by highly accredited journal editors. I am therefore truly honored by this nomination.”

 The peer review system serves to validate academic work and helps to improve the quality of published research. © IST Austria

A community to improve each other’s work

Prior to publication, journal editors carefully nominate reviewers—usually academics with enough experience in a field to be considered experts—to validate submitted work and thus to guarantee the quality of published research. According to Professor Siekhaus though, in the scientific world, reviewing is not restricted to the formalized procedure of evaluating the papers of fellow researchers prior to publication: “At all levels, the whole scientific community continuously reviews each other’s work. Scientists present their work to one another constantly, inside research groups, cross-institutionally and at international conferences elsewhere,” says Siekhaus. “The feedback about how convincing our fellow scientists find the data, the conclusions drawn and how exciting the implications are for them affects our thinking and the design of our future experiments. From graduate students to professors, we all are part of that process, receiving and giving peer review. We are all part of the community trying to make each other’s work better.”


Peer Review Week: September 16-20, 2019

Peer Review Week is a joint initiative by several high-profile publishing houses aiming to emphasize the central role peer review plays in scholarly communication, to showcase the work of editors and reviewers and to highlight the latest innovations and applications in the field of peer review. This year, the fifth edition of Peer Review Week is celebrated from September 16-20 with the theme “Quality in peer review”.

Follow @PeerRevWeek on Twitter to follow activities and events during Peer Review Week.

#PeerRevWk2019 | #QualityInPeerReview

www.peerreviewweek.wordpress.com



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